Connected Learning: Improving LSL Outcomes, Part 3
By Hearing First Team November 23, 2015
Personal Learning Networks (PLN) allow you to decide when, where, how, and from whom you want to learn. Digital tools provide unprecedented access to personalized professional development. Learn how to start building your PLN.
We recognize the need for a network of people who are helping us navigate our worlds — parents or other professionals who have chosen Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) — for support or suggestions, counsel, or commiseration. Today, there’s no reason to go it alone, thanks to the “global village” with a population of 7 billion and counting. The Internet offers us access to somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 billion people, and that number is growing due to the fact that we live in an increasingly networked world. This global village is quite literally in your pocket, your purse, or wherever you keep your mobile phone! That means it’s easier than ever before to connect with the LSL “tribe” — individuals who are pursuing the same outcomes and wrestling with many of the same challenges — from anywhere, at any hour.
We conducted research on the current state of our industry, and the report revealed that many professionals feel isolated if they haven’t been able to connect with others. But there is a solution: online networks offer access to greater connections within the LSL community and the ability to form your Personal Learning Network.
Remember Personal Learning Networks (PLN)?
We first wrote about Personal Learning Networks a few weeks ago in Part 1 of the Connected Learning posts. Today, we’ll frame it up for you a bit differently.
Imagine being able to walk into a room filled with the very best Listening and Spoken Language professionals that you have personally selected. Now imagine that you can have a conversation with them about anything you'd like! You might discuss techniques they have found to work. Perhaps you'd learn about resources that others are using, or have conversations that challenge the way you think about your practice. These conversations can be long or short, in-depth or quick hits - whatever you have time for.
One way to think about a PLN is “your personalized classroom.” You get to choose your teachers and your curriculum, the courses you take and the lectures you attend (so to speak!). LSL practitioners can access independent learning experiences at their own pace and based on their own interests and needs.
Sounds great. How do I build my own Personal Learning Network?
The “personal” nature of a PLN means that there’s not one-size-fits-all approach to creating one. There are different ways to establish and grow your own Personal Learning Network. Any PLN will require a growing “digital literacy” (ability to use technology to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information) for your PLN to thrive. You may consider starting with a conversation among your local colleagues or community — then branch out to blogs, social media, and online learning communities.
Here are a series of questions that can guide you in building your PLN:
1. What tools would you like to use?
You have likely noticed by now that Hearing First is built for Connected Learning! In the months to come, we’ll share specific training on how to leverage social networks (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest), blogs, and other online tools. Don’t worry, you don’t have to use all of those; you can choose which channels you want to engage with.
2. Who would you like to connect with?
Think about the type of people you want to add to your network. Are you looking for mentors? Peers? Are there particular perspectives you would benefit from accessing? Are there contributors in this space whose experience you feel you could learn from? Who’s journey do you relate to? Who’s approach do you admire?
3. How do you want to learn?
How do you best like to learn new information? Are you longing for written resources? Instructional videos? Participatory webinars or peer-led chat groups? Setting up a PLN that utilizes digital technologies will allow you to connect to people and consume information in the way that suits you best.
For some, connecting to relationships may be quite appealing. For others, not so much! This type of networked learning connects you to content as often as people. A news feed can be part of your PLN as much as a relationship with a fellow LSL practitioner. You can choose which suits you best.
4. When do you want to learn?
The digital age offers us a real 24/7 dynamic — providing “just-in-time solutions” when they are needed most. Whether you make your Personal Learning Network a fixed “professional development,” time in your workweek or find yourself searching with a quick minute in your car before an intervention session — the timetable is yours.
We at Hearing First are excited to journey with you as you build your own Personal Learning Network and begin sharing what you have learned back with the community. The LSL world will be richer for your contribution — and together we will see more children who are D/HH reach their full potential!
Start building your Personal Learning Network! You could start a conversation with colleagues to share your favorite online learning sources, like blogs from subject matter experts.