Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s) or Professional Learning Teams (PLT”s) are becoming more pervasive in the world of education. It is a simple idea; educators get together to share, learn, create, discuss, argue or whatever comes from engaging with one another to take on initiatives in curriculum, technology, or anything they feel is important to making a better learning environment for their students.
Computer software was developed in these type of networks. Software developers or engineers naturally crave to collaborate outside of their work environment, free for the distractions, where creativity is optimal. They got together with others who had the same interests and pioneered some of the most influential products and services we use today. Check out Apache Software Foundation.
Anyone can develop a PLN and we are finding that more professionals are interested in this type of format for professional development. It makes your job more stimulating, and you can get engaged in meaningful, even groundbreaking ideas. You observe the talents of others, people who will motivate you, challenge your thoughts, provoke new views and give you honest feedback. In this type of environment the group dynamics are what raises the bar, improves the quality, and gets everyone to think outside the box.
We need to do this more in special education. Who can you network with? How about a publishing company that will take your ideas and publish them? Isn’t your curriculum unique to your classroom? Who can you share it with. What about collaborating with other professionals from different schools and ask them to meet once a month to collaborate. You can Skype with them, participate in Twitter chats, or blog and connect with people in your own community, the next town, other states or countries. You will be surprised by what you see people doing and creating.
A group of professionals will be smarter than any one individual. When people network and connect on their own, outside of the work environment, amazing things can happen.