Tag Archives: PLN

Webinars and Live Twitter Chats

Over the past three weeks, one of my assignments was to actively participate in 4 webinars and 4 live chats. At first I was not excited about this assignment. I was in Utah for family events and getting ready to leave for the UK. The assignment began just two days before I left for the UK – where I spent 2 weeks on a road trip through England and Scotland. When it was first assigned, I thought it would be due less than a week after my return home. My family had decided to do family pictures and have a brief reunion, besides there was the 4th of July and my sister was in town from Texas and I was still facing an 8 hour drive back to California. Basically, I was not thrilled to have an assignment that I couldn’t complete on my own time. Because the required events would all be in real time, I had to be available when they were scheduled. Keeping all of those stressors in mind, imagine my surprise when I found a virtual conference with several interesting webinars on the same day! I was able to participate in these webinars in the morning on the day of my flight! My sister thought I was just giving them lip service, just participating to get credit. I finally had to ask her to stop talking to me because I was actually interested in the content.

Webinars: Library 2.016 

Defining the Library as Classroom

The first webinar in which I participated was “Defining the Library as Classroom”. This was the kick off webinar of the conference and was an hour long. I was fascinated to hear the presenters speak about the many learning functions a library (school or public) can provide for a community. I loved the library in my home town and was fascinated to realize how many of those same services it has provided over the years. I enjoyed being able to participate in the conversation. Since this was my first love webinar, I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I made comments about similar programs I had experienced. I don’t really love the library where I live, so I mentioned that it would be nice if they had the same type of expansive, inclusive outreach programs.

The Library MakerSpace as Classroom

The second webinar fascinated me. The presenters are librarians at North Carolina State University. They discussed bringing classes to the library for students to create projects in alignment with the curriculum. I missed the first couple minutes of this webinar, and I thought, at first, that they were talking about a K-12 school with a maker space in the library. I was fascinated by the idea of including such a space in a k-12 school. Sadly, I was wrong, but my imagination was piqued. My school has 2 3-D printers, and I could see this idea taking hold in the STEM environment we have created. One of my questions in this webinar was the age of the students. One idea I particularly liked was that they lend maker tools. I’m not sure this would work in a k-12 environment, but it’s an interesting idea.

Building Learning Communities through Libraries 

The third webinar was focused on using the library specifically for building learning communities. The presenter discussed how her library hosts several types of community ed classes. Sewing was one of the specific classes mentioned. One person commented that her library offers classes as well, but excludes anyone under age 14. I commented that I had attended a chocolate making class at age 12 and I still use the skills I learned then several times a year. This webinar didn’t have much participation in the comments. Most of the comments were questions for the presenter which were ignored until the end. Participating in this webinar reminded me of why libraries are so important in our communities. They offer the types of services that many people cannot otherwise afford and enrich a community culturally, socially, and intellectually. Participating in this webinar made me want to get involved with my local libraries.

Library Learning Community Webinar 1.1

Incorporating Making Culture into the Curriculum

This webinar outlined the process of creating a maker space and hosting a mini maker fair. It was an interesting presentation, but there wasn’t much participation. One idea I liked, was having students compete in a Shark Tank-type contest to decide who would be able to present at the mini maker fair. My comment was on that topic.

Making in Curriculum Webinar 1.1

Live Twitter Chats

Because of all the driving, I was unable to participate in Twitter chats until the past two days. I discovered that many of the chats listed on the Twitter Chat schedule I found are either no longer going, or have become “slow chats” instead of live chats. This made completing the assignment a little more difficult. So far I have participated in 3 chats. If I am able to participate in any of tomorrow’s chats, I will update this post. However, I will be in the mountains, volunteering at my church’s girl’s camp, so I’m not sure I will have reception.

Overall I liked the Twitter chats better than the webinars. They were more interactive and I felt like I was contributing to a discussion, rather than commenting on a presentation. One of the Twitter Chats in which I participated asked for volunteer panelists earlier in the week and live streamed their participation in the discussion.


One of the live chats I participated in was #EduMatch. This was a blended chat with a live stream on Google Plus. It is similar to a Webinar, but takes place weekly. This week’s discussion was on student work ethic. The moderator asked panel member questions in the live video stream, and asked the same questions on the live chat for the Twitter participants.

I enjoyed this discussion because I was able to see perspectives from people from different parts of the country who teach students at all age levels, including university professors. I was able to make several comments about engaging students and making the topic engaging. One teacher mentioned moving the focus away from grades, so I asked how he accomplished that and we had a short discussion of methods.


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This Twitter chat was focused on what educators are doing to get ready for the school year to begin. One thing I liked about all of the chats was that the moderators asked everyone to introduce themselves. This way, I knew who I was talking to and I didn’t feel like there was an established crowd.Like #EduMatch, the moderator for #21stedchat posted the questions during the discussion, and we had a good chat. I got some ideas for flipping my classroom, and having an open design.

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This chat for California educators was focused on how to tackle tough topics with your students. We discussed how to get teachers to tackle the topics, how to introduce them, how to distinguish between fact and fiction, etc. I really enjoyed this chat, because I was able to contribute what I have done in my own classroom. I learned about resources for current events.

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Twitter as part of my PLN

This week I began following several education hashtags (#) on Twitter. Following these hashtags will allow me to keep up with new ideas in my educational areas of interest. Here are the hashtags I’m currently following: #GTChat, #kidlit, #midleved, #Engchat, #educhat, #edchat, and #edtech. This is a picture of the Tweetdeck I set up on my laptop.

And here is a picture of how it looks on my tablet – which is what I am using while on vacation for two weeks.

 Following #GTChat has already led me to a great article on the tie between emotions and learning. This article, on MindShift, is an a excerpt from a book by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang. According to the author, we only think deeply about things we care about. We only understand deeply when we “make emotional connections between concepts” (Immordino-Yang, 2016). This is why intrinsic motivation is so important. Students must be interested and emotionally invested (interest is an emotion) to make learning effective. Of course we know that students learn better when they are engaged, but this article shows the neurological reasons why. I am fascinated and may have to buy her book, Emotions, Learning, and the Brain, (c) 2016 by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang.

A resource I have discovered through my Twitter PD is an article discussing, and listing, the research behind Maker education. The author, Benjamin Harold, argues that Maker Ed is underreasearched, but briefly shares a list of sources with summaries on some research. Since I am new to MakerEd, I plan to check these articles out when my schedule slows down a bit. I’m glad I began to follow #MakerEd on my Tweetdeck.

Following #Engchat has given me a great idea for my classroom this coming school year: paint my tables with dry erase board paint and my students can use those surfaces for group brainstorming, etc. Thanks to @MrFerguson85 for sharing this great idea. Here is a screenshot of his post :

So far, Twitter has been very useful for my professional development. I can see how following specific hashtags will allow me to discover all sorts of previously unknown resources and ideas. My previous use of social media for PD was not very purposeful. Basically it involved Pinterest and the random articles about education my friends shared on Facebook. Now I can be more purposeful about my learning. I like that Twitter allows me to follow specific topics. It seems easier to look for ideas by searching a hashtag than by googling the topic. I can also participate in the discussion and receive feedback. I am looking forward to this new way of learning!


Harold, B. (2016, Apr 27). The “maker” movement: Understanding what the research says. EdWeek Market Brief. Retrieved from https://marketbrief.edweek.org/marketplace-k-12/maker-movement-understanding-research-says/.

Immordino-Yang, M. H. (2016, May 31). Why emotions are integral to learning. MindShift. Retrieved from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/05/31/why-emotions-are-integral-to-learning/?utm_content=buffer85d44&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.

Nonverbal representation of connectivism, communities of practice (CoP), and Personal learning networks (PLN)

I created this nonverbal representation of connectivism, communities of practice, and personal learning networks on Explain Everything and uploaded it to YouTube.

The visual begins with Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) because that seems to be the basic unit of connectivity. The learner chooses her own network of people with whom to interact to learn about a topic. This type of learning is often informal and functions best when done informally. One benefit to PLNs is that students self-regulate their learning (Dabbagh & Kisantas, 2011). One skill that learners (hopefully) master as they create PLNs is the ability to create, cultivate, and activate connections with appropriate people (Rajagopal, Brinke, Bruggen, & Sloep, 2012). I chose an image showing the interconnectedness of social media because most people now rly on social media, like Facebook groups, Twitter, YouTube, and forums to crowdsource ideas and get just-in-time information to complete projects and assignments.

The next slide shows groups of people working together because the overarching goal of a community of practice is to improve some type of work function (Hoadley, 2012). In a CoP, members often work together to complete some project they have in common. While they work, inexperienced members may learn from more experienced members (as in a quilting bee) or all members may grow in knowledge as they seek to solve a problem (Smith, 2003 ; Wenger & Snyder, 2000). Each member, experienced or inexperienced is an important part of the community.

The fourth slide shows people holding hands around the world. This represents the interconnectedness of the entire world, and the importance of connections over personally stored  knowledge. The connections people make will allow for further learning and growth (Duke, Harper, & Johnston). Stored knowledge is static unless acted upon by new information, which is received through the connections people have.

The final slide is a drawing I created to show how these ideas are related. The person in the center is related to all of the people on the outside through his personal learning network. The people on the outside can be part several different communities of practice with other people in the circle, including the person in the middle. Finally, everyone on the world is now connected through the Internet, so the people in the circle have access to knowledge through their connections with any of the people in the circle. Each person just needs to create, maintain, and activate his own connections.

Note: I mislabeled the puzzle picture in slide 3. I will fix it soon and reupload the video.


Dabbagh, N. & Kisantas, A. (2012). Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 3-8. Retrieved here.

Duke, B., Harper, G., & Johnston, M. (2013). Connectivism as a digital age learning theory. The International HETL Review: Special Issue 2013, 4-13.

Hoadley, C. (2012). 12 What is a community of practice and how can we support it?. Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments, 286. Retrieved here.

Rajagopal, K., Joosten-ten Brinke, D., Van Bruggen, J, & Sloep, P. B. (2011). Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday, 17(1). Retrieved here.

Smith, M. K. (2003) Communities of practice. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved here.

Wenger, E. C. & Snyder, W. M. (2000). Communities of practice: the organizational frontier. Harvard Business Review, 78(1), 139-146. Retrieved here.