Personal, professional, passionate. These three words can be used to represent the “P” in a PLN. What better way to describe a learning network? My PLN supports me with rich, daily personalized professional development. With them I can explore and pursue my questions, learning needs and professional growth in ways that are virtually impossible in other PD settings. The learning experiences that are generated through my PLN are relevant, relatable, supportive, and motivating. Being a part of such a network makes me feel so fortunate. Shelly Terrell takes the “P” one step further as she feels it also stands for “passionate”. Will Richardson would agree as he believes PLNs enable us to connect around ideas that we are passionate about; passion feeds the network. According to Richardson PLNs have a profound impact on how we learn as they allow us to participate in transformative ways.
I feel the transformation stems largely from the passion in the PLN. When people come together with energy and enthusiasm it is both contagious and propelling. That passion ignites more passion but also it fuels new learning, more “What ifs” and greater possibilities. I think the passion resides on many levels in a network. Within a PLN individuals and the group as a whole are passionate about the topics, the learning process itself, the connections being made, and trajectory of knowledge and understanding.
Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. ~Henry Ford
Project PLN is an example of a wonderful byproduct of a Passionate Learning Network. It was started in September 2010 by two fantastic bloggers that I faithfully follow, Nicholas Provenzano of The Nerdy Teacher and Kelly Tenkely of iLearn Technology. Project PLN is a monthly digital magazine with articles written by educators all around the world. There is so much I absolutely love about Project PLN:
- Variety of contributors: Leading up to an issue there is an all-call on Twitter for submissions from anyone and everyone who would like to contribute.
- Variety of themes: Each month the articles centre around a key topic. Some past themes include favourite web tools, passion, goals for the new year, new educators, and lessons learned from mistakes.
- Variety of information, ideas and viewpoints
- Variety of articles (links, personal anecdotes, videos, practical ideas)
- Housed in an environment of openness, inclusion, collaboration, positivity and support
- Nick and Kelly envisioned the beginning of the project but have not defined the endpoint allowing for it evolve quite freely
- The PLN is guiding the shape and direction of the project
- Their aim “to connect educators” is simple on the surface but it is rich in its depth
Project PLN is always looking for contributions. Their monthly themes are so thought provoking and relevant to educators that I have been considering them for possible starting points for some of my blog posts. But then I wondered, “Why wouldn’t I just write a contribution for Project PLN?” Truthfully my answer to this resides in another question: “What do I have to contribute?” I am constantly in awe of all that is shared in my PLN (for example the content in Tweets) and I wonder how I could ever begin to weigh-in or add to the learning. I know that my evolution as a Tweeter has helped me develop and expand my PLN. However each stage (joining Twitter, following people, reTweeting, Tweeting a question, Tweeting my own thoughts) has been a leap and a risk for me. I know I am now at the stage where I should start sharing and contributing (on Twitter, Project PLN, blogs that I follow outside of class) but this stage feels the scariest of all.
This ties in well with one of Shelly Terrell’s great messages when she spoke to our EC&I 831 class last week. She really encouraged us to actively share within our PLNs. If there is something you are excited about, passionate about, interested in or that you have created-share it. There will be someone out there who needs it or hasn’t seen it before or can use it. It could be stories, resources, links, passions, lessons… Shelly reminded us that even if you think everyone has seen it or heard of it there will be someone who hasn’t and you may reach them. So what is it that I am worried about? What do I tell my students when they are feeling shy or apprehensive about sharing? In order for me to fully engage and participate in my PLN I have to raise my hand, speak up, move up from the back of the classroom and share. So I am going to give it a shot. I trust my network and I know it will be worth it. I feel it is important to pay the learning and the sharing forward. Pay the passion forward.
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~Attributed to Howard Thurman
I am wondering: How did you evolve in your PLN? Do you share and contribute or are you building up to it? What did you start sharing in your PLN to get the ball rolling? What does the “P” in PLN represent to you? Do you have an example of your PLN being a Passionate Learning Network?