The People Of A PLN

Cross posted at the ISTE Connects blog.

A PLN, or Personal Learning Network, is a great way to get globally connected to thousands and thousands of educators all over the world. The medium used is Twitter and it never ceases to amaze me the learning and collaboration that is happening 24/7/365. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, “You cannot buy this kind of professional development.” What’s even better is that there’s something for everyone. Teachers, counselors, administrators, instructional technology specialists, special education teachers, ESL/ELL teachers; you name it and you can find like minded educators to connect with. However, this made me think of all the people I have come to know as professionals, as well as friends. It’s the people that make this great. Plain and simple.

It is less than one week way from ISTE 2010. Thousands of educators will board “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” bound for Denver. Without a doubt, I am going to be surrounded by many amazing educators. Some of whom I have met in person before, and many I will be meeting in person for the first time. It’s exciting to think about, yet a bit overwhelming to think about isn’t it? In a good way of course!

I have talked with many of you so many times via Twitter, Google Docs, Google Wave, Skype, and email. We have collaborated, created, and learned from each other. It’s so cool that I have been able to connect with so many people over the last 2 1/2 years. There’s been much sharing, much humor, and much camaraderie. I am thankful for every bit of it.

As so many begin to converge on Denver this week, I have anxious anticipation for this conference unlike I have had for any other educational technology conference in the past. This will be my 3rd time in attendance. I attended in San Antonio and in Atlanta (when the conference was known at NECC), however, this one I know is going to be incredibly different. I will be traveling there alone this time, yet I know I will be far from it. I travel there as 1, but I know I am united with so many. I am united with the people of my PLN. Fellow educators, lifelong learners, and friends.

You see, it’s important not to forget the people side of having a PLN. Whether we’re using Twitter, The Educator’s PLN, or connecting via one of the countless other mediums, it’s the people that make this work, not the technology. Does the technology make it easier? Absolutely! This is the real-time web! It’s living, breathing, thriving force! Don’t underestimate its potential to bring change and be a true catalyst for a revolution in education! However, it’s the people who will initiate it.

I can’t wait to meet so many of you; the likes of Beth Still, John Carver, Naomi Harm, Nick Provenzano, and so many others I could keep going and going. The sessions, panel discussions, Social Butterfly Lounge, and the tweetups are going to make this an unforgettable experience.

I can’t wait for all the learning, laughing, and leading. Those are some important Ls! The people make them all possible.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and I hope you will find the tools and resources I tweet out beneficial as well. You can follow me on Twitter @kylepace.

Thank you for reading.

Where do you EdChat?

If you are in my PLN then you know what EdChat is all about. It happens at two different times every Tuesday. 12PM

EdChat column in TweetDeck for iPhone

EST for our PLN friends in Europe, Asia, and other points west. Then it happens again at 7pm EST for North and South American members of our PLN. No matter which time you participate (and if you aren’t why not?!?) it’s always a highly engaging, lively discussion about education. Don’t forget to follow @web20classroom (a.k.a. Steven Anderson) so you know to vote on the topic for the week between Sunday and Tuesday!

So, where do you EdChat at? What’s your device of choice to use while participating? I was fortunate enough to participate in both editions of EdChat yesterday and during the evening edition I really began to wonder, “Where does everyone like to participate from and what device/tool is your favorite?”  I am amazed in particular how mobile technology has allowed us to participate in a great discussion with hundreds of educators from all around the globe. Where some of you tweeting while holiday shopping? Where some of you tweeting during dinner? Your favorite armchair? Inquiring minds want to know! Maybe in an upcoming edition of EdChat we can have some of us upload to TwitPic in real-time to share with our PLN where we Tweet from and with what device?

Almost every Tuesday night when I participate it is using the TweetDeck app on my iPhone. As if I weren’t addicted to my iPhone enough already right? TweetDeck in general is my preferred Twitter tool of choice but the fact I can from my phone still amazes me. I had to laugh last night towards the end of EdChat when I tweeted, “Should multi-tasking be a skill required for 21st c. teachers? I just participated in edchat and gave two kids a bath! Ha!” Humor was the intent of that tweet but the more I thought about it the more cool I thought it was. I received a couple of jokingly replies wondering if my kids were being attended to I promise they were! Some of you were as equally worried about my iPhone as well to make sure it did not accidentally go for a swim in the bathtub!

Think about all the ways educators participate in EdChat every Tuesday. We have mobile phones, laptops, netbooks. etc. at our disposal to contribute the discussion. We are in our homes, schools, offices, airports,  and cars (hopefully not while in motion) while we’re communicating and collaborating with our peers. What would student engagement look like if more of these devices were in students’ hands during class? Before you comment to disagree with me let me just clarify that this post is not intended to be a debate as to whether or not cell phone should be allowed at school. The point I’m trying to make is look at how educators can become engaged in a lively, professional discuss using a wide variety of tools. Isn’t it important for students to get to experience the same type of growth and learning that we do?

If you are an avid observer of EdChat, I strongly encourage you to participate in the discussion. Vote for the topic, and jump in on Tuesday no matter your location or device. We’d love to see you there. Don’t sell yourself short, you have knowledge and expertise to share with all of us.

There’s Power In The PLN!

twitter_logoWhen I started using Twitter last October, I really had no idea about the power it had to make me a better instructional technology specialist. I work with 6 great, highly talented individuals in our district’s instructional technology department. I can always go to any of them and get feedback about how to best assist a teacher, get editing suggestions on a new handout I’ve created, or just offer a new perspective.

Then I slowly began to realize that, “Wow! There’s a lot of EdTech folks on Twitter!” I found many of the more widely known leaders in EdTech such as Tony Vincent, David Warlick, and Larry Ferlazzo had a large presence on Twitter already and immeidately began to follow their updates. Very quickly I was receiving news on edtech initiatives in other districts, learning about best practices, and was being exposed to countless new online resources.

My first thoughts quickly went to, “I really wish I had this kind of professional learning network when I was getting my undergrad degrees.” I mean, just look at the amount of practical, current, and highly relevant information that a pre-service teacher can obtain almost instantly! I see it happen on Twitter every day to hundreds of K-12 educators across the globe that make up my PLN. I keep my Twitter use professional, which pretty much everyone I follow and everyone that follows me does too. Am I so professional that I won’t make a humorous comment now and then (or at least attempt to)? No way! We all take our “mental vacations” on Twitter now and then to dish out a bit of sarcasm or share a funny link. I believe it helps us be even better at what we do when it comes time to refocus and get back down to business.

If you know someone in college that is an aspiring K-12 teacher, encourage them to get on Twitter and begin building a PLN of educators in the same content area. There are loads of online resources to help a teacher find other teachers on Twitter. One such resource is a wiki called Twitter4Teachers.

It’s great to see higher ed edtech teachers such as Tom Whitby require his students to understand the power of a PLN and I’ll gladly follow any of his students that are using it.

I would like to thank everyone in my PLN for the resources they’ve shared, successes, failures, and recommendations about the ever-changing world of EdTech. I am humbled as my number of followers continues to grow, which just hit 800 yesterday!

I wanted to make my 1000th tweet meaningful and of substance. I don’t plan on posting to this site every day but when I do I want it to be worthwhile time spent for anyone that decides to read it.

Bottom line: Twitter rocks!! If you’re a teacher, use it to your advantage! You won’t be disappointed!