The Connected Educator: Ch 2

Developing a Connected Learning Model

This chapter shares the differences between a Professional Learning Community, a Personal Learning Network and a Community of Practice and discusses how these three “prongs” together lead create model for Connected Learning Communities.

Professional Learning Communities:  Southwest Parke has been a PLC for many years and I feel that we have carried this concept out well.  The chapter did make me think, however, that over the years we have allowed our PLC concept to suffer a little as we have pursued other initiatives and models.  Is SWP the PLC we claim to be?  Are we still the PLC we once were?  I am currently working towards trying to empower more teachers to be building experts in different areas (Common Core, Curriculum Mapping, specific digital content resources and tools, etc.) so that the leadership is more shared and not all driven by me.  It isn’t easy, though.  Teachers are crazy busy and overwhelmed as it is. But I hope that over time, we can reach a point where every teacher in the school is the “go to” person for something. Although there are many other areas of PLC’s that we should consider, I think we will have arrived at a good place when we can say that.  One aspect mentioned that I can absolutely say we are doing well is with our online collaborations.  Although I would really love to see more participation from teachers in our discussion boards, it has come a long way from the early days of our journey.  Visit the SWP Digital Curriculum Group on MBC to see what we do!

Personal Learning Network – Where PLC’s are all about connecting as a team, school and district, a PLN is more about connecting outside of those circles to grow your own individual professionalism with inspiration from a wider range of educators.  This is where technology has really changed the world of professional development.  Teachers can now take charge of their own learning towards better practice.  I have to thank My Big Campus, Twitter, and the IDOE Office of E-Learning for helping my PLN to explode over the last 18 months.  The people I have “met” and learned from have been amazing and I cannot encourage educators enough to start building these connections and getting involved.  If you’re reading this, you are probably the sort of person I want to connect with.   Here’s some links to get you started:

Community of Practice – The book defines CoP’s this way:

“According to cognitive anthropologist Etienne Wenger (1998), communities of practice have three distinct criteria: (1) a shared domain of interest, (2) collective competence among equals who are skillful and talented, and (3) a shared practice or a common sense of purpose. Members of a community of practice are situated practitioners. Communities of practice are made up of people with a common interest, who collaborate to learn to do it better.

Nussbaum-Beach, Sheryl; Ritter Hall, Lani (2011-11-01). The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (Kindle Locations 766-769). Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition.

I feel like my PLN is leading to a CoP.  In fact, there is an opportunity on the horizon (forgive the “Awaken” theme play-on-words) that would create an amazing CoP for Southwest Parke Schools.  I’m excited about the prospects for learning – both for my own professional growth and for the ways it would impact students and teachers across the state.


I’m wondering if this blog-about-the-book I’m reading idea was a good one.  If you’re still reading… bless you. I realize that not everyone wants to read my thoughts-turned-to print.   But…. that’s the idea behind a blog, right?  No one is forcing anyone to read this, and maybe…. just maybe… finding this page will make you and I both become a more connected educator.  But I really hate blogs that just seem to be someone’s attempt to show how much they know.   I don’t want this to be that.   So… I want to hear from you!  Post a comment below or follow me on Twitter and let’s talk!  Be part of my PLN and we can help each other’s PLC’s grow, and maybe we’ll find ourselves part of the same CoP someday… OK?  😉


#INeLearn Chats

twitter-in-the-classroom-1Do you tweet?  If you aren’t sure what I mean by that… you don’t.  If you know what I mean but haven’t ventured into the world of Twitter, I encourage you to do so.  I only use it professionally, but it has become a great source of research, tools and a network of people who I feel like I’ve come to rely on for advice and ideas.

But Twitter isn’t really what this post is about.  (For more about getting started with Twitter, click here).   It’s just a necessary first step to what I wanted  to share today – #INeLearn Chat on Thursday evenings.  I hesitate a little because as the popularity of this little chat group grows, I find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the pace!  But the discussions, lead by various educational leaders and sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of eLearning, never fail to give me something new to expand my professional knowledge.

Here’s how it works… each Thursday evening teachers from around the state of Indiana (and I suspect a few other states as well) follow the hashtag  #INeLearn starting at 8:00 PM.  The topics are all related to eLearning and cover aspects such as various components of implementing a 1:1, flipping, digital content, etc.  Tonight’s topic is “Teachers as Learners”.  You’ll learn from other educators around the state who may be involved in the same initiatives your pursuing in your school – a great opportunity to bounce ideas off of others, learn that you aren’t alone, and be inspired.

  1. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, get one!
  2. Find me @mrsporterDCIS and click “follow” (not necessary at all for the chat, but I’d love to connect with you)
  3. At 8:00 on Thursday evenings, search #INeLearn and let the professional networking begin!

I highly recommending using something like TweetChat to help you follow along more easily.  It will automatically add the hashtag to your tweets.

If you miss a chat, or find yourself struggling to keep up…. no worries.  Go check the archives at Storify!



It starts in less than an hour!