Despite their best efforts, school districts everywhere struggle with providing teachers with professional development activities and opportunities that meet the needs of all teachers. While we all educate students, we all have different needs due to the variety of subjects and ages we teach, not to mention the variety of learning styles we each have as adult learners. Some activities are a no-brainer…when there’s a new student information system that all teachers will be using (think Infinite Campus), everyone will benefit from a workshop that shows teachers how to use it. However, when it comes to professional growth related to instructional practices, a one-size-fits-all doesn’t usually work. This is why some districts are encouraging teachers to develop professional/personal learning networks (PLN’s). A PLN is basically a personalized social network, developed by the individual teacher, full of digital resources that pertain to his/her specific needs or interests as an educator.
One great way to start developing a personal learning network is by reading blogs, using an RSS feed aggregator, like GoogleReader. This article does a great job discussing the role of RSS feeds and wikis in developing PLN’s. To learn about the basic concept of RSS, click on the video below.
Another great PLN tool is Twitter. This article by New Milford High School (NJ) principal Eric Sheninger explains why Twitter should be a vital component to anyone’s PLN. How many of you are on Twitter and use it as a means for professional growth? Leave a comment below to share your experiences. Then hit me up on Twitter…my handle is @MadisonITS.