Today, I will facilitate a learning session at the TechForum in Atlanta. The session is called Promoting & Supporting PLNs for Professional Development. The original focus of the session was personal learning networks. But coming down to the line, I’ve come to wonder if schools and districts could or should promote personal learning networks. My own notions of the concept have an individual, with specific and shifting problems and goals, crafting and maintaining an array of connections to information resources and other networked learners, generating new knowledge through the conversations that he or she engages in. ..and it’s personal.
I am adjusting my focus away from PLNs and toward techniques for crafting a culture of learning in our schools and other learning environments.
Here are just a few suggestions for administrators for promoting schools that provoke learning in every person who passes through the doors:
- Fill your school(s) with learners.While interviewing prospective employees, ask them to “Tell me about something that you have learned lately.” “How did you learn it?” “What are you seeking to learn more about right now?” Also ask how they learned it. To what degree and with what proficiency are they utilizing networks.
- Open your faculty meetings with something that you’ve just learned – and how you learned it. It does not have to be about school, instruction, education managements, or the latest theories of learning.
- Make frequent mention of your Twitter stream, RSS reader, specific bloggers you read. Again, this should not be limited to job specific topics.
- Share links to specific TED talks or other mini-lectures by interesting and smart people. Then share and ask for reactions during faculty meetings, in the halls, or during casual conversations with employees and parents.
- Include in the daily announcements, something new and interesting (Did you know that a California power utility has just gotten permission to sell electricity from outer space?).
- Ask students in the halls what they’ve just learned and how they learned it, and if they would mind writing something up about it for the school web site.
- Plant around the school and especially in the library curious questions that might spark a desire in learners (How many steps does a centipede have to take to travel a foot? Who was the youngest person to sail around the world?).
- Ask teachers and other staff to write reports on their latest vacation, sharing what they learned – and publish them on the school web site.
- Ask teachers to devote one of their classroom bulletin boards to what they are learning, related or unrelated to the classroom.
- Talk about the role of research in learning and encourage learners and teachers to engage in independent research on topics of personal interest. Persuade some to submit, for the school web site, multimedia reports about what they’ve learned and how they learned it..
- Learn what the parents of your students are passionately learning about, and ask them to report (text, video, Skype conversation, or in person to be recorded).
- Plant a mystery in your school with hidden clues that require further research on the part of learners.
- Find ways to be playful at your school — and perhaps feel less grown-up. (see Do Grown-ups Learning?)
This is an update of a list I posted a number of months ago.