Whether you refer to them as Professional or Personal Learning Networks, there is no mistaking the fact that discovery, involvement and implementation of social media into your own world manifests itself ten-fold into both personal as well as professional growth. Those who tweet, blog and communicate otherwise via the world wide web all concur it has tremendous advantages. I like to think of them as being harmonious in nature.
I have been involved with social media for several years but only recently began to learn the power and influence that both blogging and connecting with educators world wide has had on me, both personally and professionally. To be able to learn at your own pace, in your own desired direction has to me, become invaluable. It has, without a doubt, been the most rewarding and satisfying of my ventures over the last 24 years as an educator. All of the innumerable staff development sessions and trainings I have received prior over the years pale in comparison.
My eyes have always been open to the continued blending and narrowing of this vast world via the Internet. As an avid participant on Twitter, I have been able to get news first hand before it is released to the major networks. I have learned differing viewpoints, and have greater appreciation and understanding of global issues and problems in which would have taken me years to develop through continued reading and books. The resources are infinite in which are shared amongst people who are actively involved in social media. I have had the opportunity, and continue to do so, develop personal and professional relationships with people whom are regarded as famous and leaders within the realms of their respective fields of expertise. To that end, even after communicating, exploring and reading what they have to say, you now have the power to collect, store and share these vast amounts of information and resources with whomever you choose and whomever is interested. One memorable comment made by a distant colleague referred to our continuing inquiry and sharing of information via these forums as a graduate degree in itself, without the cost and time consumption! All of these advantages, in which takes much time and effort, which many of us unfortunately as professionals do not.
Most of what I have learned involve the topics and issues revolving around leadership and the implementation of 21st century resources in to classrooms. Additionally, I have gained tremendous knowledge referencing the scope and complexities of political, ethical and moral issues from a global viewpoint. Most all of this has come from the perspectives and voices of people who are firsthand in the midst of turmoil and strife.
Most importantly, I firmly believe that my persistence and dedication to using and voicing through these mediums have been instrumental in assisting me in procuring my first leadership post at the building level of school administration. Although never explicitly referenced to, I think in the process of continuing to establish, develop and promote my digital footprint has been invaluable in getting my name out their to both colleagues and potential employers.
I am very interested in what other colleagues and professionals have to say regarding "what the heck is a PLN?"