Tag Archives: PLN

Workshop: Making PLNs work for you

MC900439356-1‘Personal Learning Network’ (PLN) is a term that’s every where at the moment, but really it only captures half the story – the half that’s about the individual and what they want from their network. The other side is what the individual can contribute to their network, and how that whole network grows stronger as a result. That’s why I probably prefer the wider term ‘community of practice’:

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger, 2006).

Sounds like a perfect description of #AusELT to me 🙂 So, anyway, when Karen Benson (@eslkazzyb) and I heard that the theme of the UECA PD Fest 2013 was communities of practice, we obviously had to put our hands up to present.

In our presentation, ‘The networked teacher: Making PLNs work for you’, we wanted to explore the notion of a PLN as a personalised community of practice. We wanted to help attendees clearly visualise their current PLN, and not only to identify ways in which it could be developed, but to get a sense of why it’s worth developing, both personally and professionally. On a more practical note, we wanted participants to be able to explore what a PLN (this one!) looks like in practice via a range of online platforms and talk over some of the issues involved. And we wanted them to leave with a) some concrete ideas for how a PLN could help them in their individual situations (you can read some of their ideas here), and b) a plan for how to get started.

We humbly offer up our workshop Powerpoint, teacher’s notes, and summary handout here in the hope that it might help people running similar sessions in future. Feel free to use it and adapt it as you wish, but please credit/link to us where appropriate and remember to retain the original copyrights on other images used. And let us know how you go!

Acknowledgements & further reading

Several #AusELTers have already presented on this topic, or something along these lines, and their advice was invaluable in putting together our session. In fact, ours looks pretty shoddy by comparison 🙂 Please take a look at these presentations if you get a chance, there’s plenty more to explore:

If you would like to learn more about communities of practice, Etienne Wenger’s website is a great place to start (the definition of communities of practice in this post is taken from there).

Jacqui McDonald at the University of Southern Queensland has done a great deal of practical exploratory work with communities of practice, and actually used #AusELT as an example in her plenary at UECA PD Fest (#pride!) It was great to see her ‘view from above’ of many of the stages we have experienced in our evolving group, and to learn what we might expect in our future. A version of her presentation is available online here and is recommended for those who want to learn more about the inner workings of communities of practice.

This post by @sophiakhan4

What do teachers want from a network?

MC900439356-1Karen Benson (@eslkazzyb) and I recently delivered a short workshop on “The Networked Teacher: Making a PLN work for you” at the UECA PD Fest in Sydney. We are planning to develop parts of the workshop into downloadable materials for interested managers/senior teachers/trainers to use for in-house professional devlopment, so look out for that. As part of the workshop, we asked participants to complete a few sentences about what they wanted from their network. Here is a sampling of what was said*:

(*in one or two instances the wording has been changed for reasons of clarity)

I want to learn more about . . .

  • management in ELT
  • ways of presenting material and grammar in student-centred and helpful ways
  • the active classroom
  • using technology to engage and simplify learning
  • using Twitter for chats more easily
  • the #AusELT resource wiki
  • student engagement using technology
  • how to teach pronunciation
  • new ideas/activities in the classroom
  • blogging
  • how to observe/being observed in teaching practice
  • writing and publishing worksheets and activity sheets
  • blended learning
  • finding ELT work

I want to talk to people who . . .

  • are heads of centres
  • are involved in English programs at universities
  • are interested in being positive and creative and inventive in their teaching
  • are interested in maximising student benefit and enjoyment in the classroom
  • are inspired by the ELT/ESL world
  • are experienced teachers who use various forms of classroom technology
  • are more experienced than me
  • want to share and talk about learning and student motivation
  • I can help and learn from
  • teachers and managers in the ELT sector
  • are also fairly new teachers
  • are interested in designing PD systems/workshops/plans
  • have experience and expertise in my areas of interest
  • are professionals in the field of ELT
  • share my research interests

I want feedback/advice on . . .

  • dealing with relationships between universities and their English language centres
  • English program outcomes at the university level
  • reflection
  • strategies I use in class
  • how to improve my teaching
  • career advancement opportunities for teachers into management and other related fields
  • developing online courses
  • dealing with challenging situations
  • effective strategies to limit the use of L1 in a multilingual classroom
  • job-hunting skills

I want to be able to . . .

  • focus on strategies/solutions
  • share ideas and learn from fellow colleagues
  • get enough courage to contribute/participate in a Twitter chat

A huge thank you to all the lovely people who came to the session and contributed their ideas. We (or you!) can put forward many of these as poll topics for future Twitter chats. I’m particularly interested in the “I want to talk to people who . . .” section though. In a networked community all of these are possible; each person can build the network that best suits their purposes. Hope to see you out there!

This post by @sophiakhan4