I have to be honest, my community engagement has been lower than I expected for the past three months. Building, developing, and maintaining a PLN takes time and perseverance and it just never ends. When Course 5 started in September, we were having a very intense time at my school as both a LMS and an ePortfolio were introduced to the whole Lower School. I also attended two week-end workshops and launched my course 5 project. In other words, although I had a look at some of the new Coetail bloggers posts, I had not left any comment on their page. Yet, I see the value of being bound up with one another, but I failed in doing it at that time.
I tried this week to catch up with some of them and introduce myself, but I know it is a bit late to do so. I sincerely hope that I will be able to maintain this relationship during the year as getting and giving comments was extremely useful to me when I was at that stage of my Coetail journey.
I have noticed that Twitter was a great extension of the one-to-one relationship I have with my colleagues and that we actually shared and retweeted a lot through this media so that our PLNs overlap more and more. We sometimes start a conversation offline and continue it with Twitter or vice versa.
The real surprise for me was that my PLN could grow outside Coetail. For instance, my PLN integrates now people who share common interest for Ron Ritchhart’s Culture of Thinking, SDGs, project-based learning, UN, etc. What I have also noticed is that you gain new followers when you share something authentic.
For instance, Nora Vermeulinand I have been creating visuals both in English and French for Project zero thinking routines and understanding map. Because I tweeted them at Ron Ritchhart, everyone who was also interested in this pedagogy could potentially see my posts. Moreover, each time I attended a workshop or a conference and met educators from everywhere, we kept in touch through Twitter. Except Twitter, I used different spaces to communicate with my learning community. I usually share my Coetail posts with my school colleagues by email because that’s how it works so far. Now that we have introduced Schoology, it could become an appropriate space to set up a group. I also used Linkedin too, but in a different way. I post less on Linkedin as this is more a formal network than a community of learners. For instance, I have been part of a UN project which has nothing to do with my school and I really enjoy this experience. On Linkedin, I am linked to UN officers and members of this project.
On a more personal side, I also have a PLN on Facebook messenger, mostly made of former colleagues who work in various International schools. They are real friends and good educators so it is another level of relationship than Linkedin and Twitter.
FInally, I have tried a few times Google +, but it is not a natural online space for me and not a lot of my PLN members are using it. The challenge I face is to develop a PLN on more than one online space and to be consistent. I clearly struggle to maintain my online presence when I am too busy at school. Moreover, if your PLN grows, it also true for the number of posts you have to read and I feel like I often miss some good posts because they are sometimes lost in the feed. I wonder if I should almost have on my calendar a dedicated time to read my PLN posts and respond or create new posts. Wouldn’t it be great if schools could include this on teacher’s schedule?