PLN awareness

Posted: October 24, 2011 in collaboration, participatory art

When we were first asked to determine or to think about what our Personal Learning Network was, I was at a bit of a loss. My PLN consisted mainly of myself, I thought. Sure I sometimes bandied ideas about around the proverbial “water cooler”, but I didn’t consider that as learning. I have to change my view on that, Because it IS learning. As a professional photographer I constantly read up on the latest in cameras, lenses, software, and a variety of other facettes of photography. I attend lecture and speeches by visiting Photography legends. One of them, noted American Ralph Gibson, said during a Q&A that everything he learned or watched made him a better photographer. Paraphrasing, he said that every dance performance he attended, every movie he saw, and every language he learned made him a better photographer. Everything he ever read, saw, or heard, was available to him as he framed his shots, made decisions on composition, exposure, and aperture. And this next part I thought was particularly interesting: he added “whether he was aware of it or not”. The more art he saw and learned about, the better was his own art.

And so it is with teaching. Every unit I plan, every lesson I develop, every activity I envisage, is influenced not only by what I’ve done in the past but by what I’ve read, seen in Alan November’s latest video, or a TED session, read in a blog, refered to in a Tweet, discussed in my cohort, and yes, by the “water cooler discussions”. I know this now; and knowing it affects how I teach. Acting on new ideas, suggestions, and concepts has already made me a better teacher, and made my students’ learning experience more engaging, and effective. By engaging more actively with my PLN I am forced to think about what I’m doing, how I am doing it, and especially why I am doing it. The more I interact with my network the better I get at teaching, and being aware of it is crucial in maximizing the benefit to my students and myself.

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