Mapping your PLN

In 2010, I read David Warlick’s Gardener’s Approach to Learning: Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network and was inspired to map out my PLN (personal learning network). I’m glad I did because it gave me a different perspective of my learning landscape. I saw how I was connecting with colleagues and professionals, what places were most productive for me, and I was able to identify gaps worth exploring for future growth and weed out connections no longer meeting my needs. Growing my PLN became more purposeful.

Remapping my PLN a couple of years later, gave me further insight; I became aware of how the tools were shaping me, how they were shaping my online relationships and that I was growing from being a consumer towards being a collaborative, creative producer in my network. The activity was inspiring, rewarding and produced concrete evidence of professional growth. The map is a highly visual artefact that can be used in professional development plans and performance review conversations.

If you have never mapped your PLN before you may want to start simply with:

  • Face-to-face associations – eg. Teaching faculties, school/organisation learning teams, professional organisations you meet with in person.
  • Online associations – eg. nings, online organisations, Twitter hashtags you follow like #vicpln, groups on social media sites like Facebook
  • Access/aggregation – places you go to for learning and things you subscribe to eg. blogs, newsletters, curation tools like Diigo

Concentrate on your cohorts and the types of connections you have developed, don’t worry about naming individuals.

Once you are confident mapping your own PLN, why not take it a step further and have your students try mapping theirs? Most young people already have informal networks for learning, especially those involved in online gaming. Mapping then discussing as a group places they go to obtain information could help them to see connections between informal and academic learning. It might also be a great way of introducing them to a broader range of resources and ways that cultivating their PLN can help them achieve at school.

Social media and new online behaviours

Seth Godin’s written a short blog entry about social media’s ability to spout and scout. By that he means:
Spout: to talk about what we’re up to and what we care about.
Scout: to see what others are spouting about.

Godin also points out that up until now this information was pretty much private, and our activities were not commercial. Now we are seeing a flourishing of sharing activity – access to information about our interests and passions has never been easier.

For example, it has enabled like minded people to pursue their interests together, collaborating with strangers, or learning more about our friends; and has enabled new ways of doing business – such as self promotion via blogs, and businesses gathering information about ourselves to better customise their products to name a few…

You can read more of his thoughts here.

Back for 2012

Welcome back to a new year of Bright Ideas. Hopefully you’ve had a relaxing and restorative break and a chance to sort through your email!

At the start of the year when everything is beginning, it’s often worth taking time to be inspired by the great ideas that transform how we work, live and see the world.

RSAnimate is a wonderful source of videos to get you thinking. Some stand out talks include:

The RSA channel on You Tube also includes other RSAnimate videos, talks and presentations.

We look forward to another year of sharing, inspiration and bright ideas.

Reflection – SLAV Conference: Reading Culture

The National Gallery of Victoria was the perfect venue last week for the School Library Association of Victoria conference Reading Culture: Collaborate, Create, Celebrate. Presented in collaboration with NGV Education and Programs, the relaxed and collegial atmosphere for the day was set when delegates gathered in the morning sunshine for coffee and catchup chats. The blending of culture, literature, learning and technology amidst the treasures of the National Gallery once again proved to be an inspiring combination.

Bunjil's nest

Bunjil's nest

Sue McKerracher, National Year of Reading (NYOR) spokesperson opened the conference with an invitation to the audience of approx 210 to join the excitement of this special year that puts the love of reading and the sharing of its pleasures into the spotlight.  The range of resources and ideas on the official NYOR website indicate that 2012 will be an exciting year for reading in Australia.

Author talks are always an opportunity to get to know the person behind the story.  Alison Lester’s engaging conversation with Laura Harris of Penguin Books, gave us a glimpse of inspiration behind her career as an illustrator and writer.  Alison’s book Are we there yet? is the feature book for the 2012 National Year of Reading.  Her discussion with Laura focussed the book she wrote in collaboration with Coral Tulloch, One small island (set on Macquarie Island) and a special preview ‘peek’ at her forthcoming title Sally Scott goes south.

Petite and articulate author Alice Pung took the audience on a journey back to her father’s life as a survivor of Pol Pot’s Cambodian Killing Fields through her eloquent story telling.  She spoke of the lives that contributed to her books; stories of hardship and survival, full of emotion, yet shared in a way that emphasised humour and poignancy in the telling.  Her latest book Her Father’s Daughter has been a journey for Alice herself as she came to know and appreciate her father on a different level.

Workshops exploring the interaction between literature and art are always popular.  The linking of art, literature and Medieval history; explorations of the work of Albrecht Durer and the use of art to stimulate creative writing and thinking inspired a buzz of conversations.  I attended the inspiring session Bunjil’s Nest which had a strong focus on sustainability, Koori culture and environmental awareness.  It celebrates Bunjil the Eagle, creator spirit of the Kulin Nation and has involved numerous schools and community groups.  This is an ongoing collaborative project with resources available online that provide learning support and inspiration. A wonderful class activity.

After lunch in the beautiful Great Hall, delegates ventured into the ‘nuts and bolts’ activities of school libraries which included establishing an online bookclub, an exploration of apps, ipads, digital storytelling and the experiences of the SLAV/FUSE Web Elements Engaged Project.  At this time, I attend of the knowledge sharing session of SLAV members Joy Board of Beaconhills College and Anne Whisken of Carey Baptist Grammar School in an attempt, like many others present, to gain an understanding of the complex options available in setting up a library management system to handle the range of resources in today’s library.  The resources from these sessions will be available on the professional development link (past papers) on the SLAV website

The conference concluded with delegates being taken on a journey of the restoration of the painting The Crossing of the Red Sea by Nicholas Poussin with NGV Painting Conservator, Carl Villis.  Truly fascinating. You are invited to follow the progress of this major project online.

Presentation of SLAV achievement awards was the highlight of the conference.  The following awards were presented and our congratulations go to these worthy recipients:

 John Ward Award – Joy Whiteside, Overnewton Anglican Community College
Innovator’s Grant – Sally Sutherland, Melbourne Girls’ College
SLAV Research Fellowship – Pam Niewman,  Clairvaux Catholic School
School Leader’s Award – Julie Ryan, Principal, Our Lady of Mercy College

SLAV Awards 2011

SLAV Awards 2011

 This was another day celebrating the knowledge and ideas of library and learning professionals.

Camilla Elliott is Head of Library and eLearning Coordinator at Mazenod College, Mulgrave.  She is also Chair, SLAV Professional Development Committee.

Two simple measures of your school’s relationship with technology

Brad Ovenell-Carter, Head of the Think Global School recently posted on the integration of ICT in schools.

He talks about how visible new technologies are in the learning process in 2 simple ways to measure the success of your school’s tech program.

Do students use devices in a lab or are they available anywhere learning happens?

Do staff and students notice new technology or is it just another tool in the classroom?

It’s interesting to think what would have to happen in schools for devices like smart phones and tablets to be as ubiquitous as a pencil or notebook.

Or maybe they already are? What are your experiences?

2 simple measures of your tech program