I am really interested in the idea of educators creating and developing their own Personal Learning Networks (PLN) because through such networks, each individual is able to tailor his or her learning to fit personal needs and interests. In Personal Learning Networks for Educators: 10 Tips, Dr. Mark Wagner (2012) suggests that a personal learning network is beneficial because it is “a global network of like-minded professionals.” Further, he notes that such individuals who create these networks will “broaden their experience and challenge their thinking on an ongoing basis” (2012). With the increase of technology in our daily lives, it makes sense that educators utilize technology tools to support professional needs. Wagner (2012) advocates that mediums such as blogs, Twitter and Google+ can become powerful tools because they allow for limitless connections with other experts in our field.
Will Richardson, author of Weblogg-ed, agrees with Wagner on the subject of PLNs and feels that schools and teachers need to create their own PLNs so that they may teach students how to navigate their own. He claims, and I agree, that today’s students are already participating in their own networks, but no one is really teaching them how to participate in those networks fully and effectively. Therefore, teachers need to be able to practice, and foster in their students, “safe,” “ethical,” and effective” literacy development (2007).
As I consider how I will develop my own Personal Learning Network, I took the opportunity to examine what I currently utilize. What I found is that I gather and use information mainly from Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and my colleagues. The digital tool that I chose to represent my PLN is MindMaps. Since this is my first experience working with MindMaps, I had to spend time learning about its affordances and limitations. After using this tool just once, what I found was that it is actually quite intuitive and easily navigable. I did run into a few roadblocks with formatting, but was able to get through them by viewing the tutorial that is included. Since I can foresee myself using MindMaps with my students as a brainstorming, organization and even presentation tool, I certainly plan to continue working with it so that I can master it myself before sharing it with my students.