Connecting for Over a Decade: A #SquadGoalsNetwork Reflection from Jane Moore
A reflection by Jane Moore on the power of personal learning networks.
ACCESS – Does regular access to other individuals from other institutions and institutional perspectives challenge your definition of access and what it means? If so, how?
Regular access to individuals from other institutions helped me navigate uncharted territory early in the “information age.” As an early adopter of technology, I was trying to implement technology in an institution that did not necessarily value or support technology. Being able to communicate with others who were also early adopters built a support system that has continued despite the fact that what we started doing is now “old hat.” Virtual access to creative minds and caring hearts helped all of us to build our knowledge, our ability to work as a team, and personal and professional friendships.
Access used to mean connecting with the people in my office building, if I was lucky, or with those who grudgingly attended monthly faculty meetings. Now access can mean people all over the world, shared problems, suggestions, and support.
FACULTY SATISFACTION – How has your participation in the PLN benefitted faculty and colleagues at your home institution?
I brought ideas from my PLN to those in my institution on a regular basis, incorporating best practices I learned from others into my own classes.
LEARNING EFFECTIVENESS – When you reflect on your work, how has meeting and learning from individuals from other institutions and institutional perspectives helped you to clarify or re-define what it means for learning to be effective?
Having a group to share insights, problems, and possible solutions has made all the difference in evaluating what effective learning is, and how best to reach students. For example, my editorial board reviewed the Accessible Syllabus site. That site changed the way I wrote syllabi from that point on. Later at a conference, where my PLN expanded to those who were connected to members of my PLN, I learned about doing a virtual “walk through the syllabus.” Again, it changed the way I taught.
SCALE – Is the PLN scalable and/or replicable by others at other institutions/organizations? If so, how? What challenges do you encounter?
Finding a common goal is probably the best way to develop a personal learning network. It can be, like mine, an editorial board for MERLOT; but it can also be a working group for a conference proposal or presentation, or to solve a particular problem or deal with a particular issue.
The challenge is consistent meeting times that get on everyone’s calendar; keeping things fresh by occasionally adding new members to the group, while maintaining the interest of those from the core group; recognizing that at different points in their professional or personal life, that people do need to move on, or change their participation level. I think the secret is developing caring personal relationships. What has kept my PLN going for over 15 years is that we are more than colleagues, we are friends.
STUDENT SATISFACTION – Do you feel that your involvement and/or collaboration with the PLN has helped you create better student experiences at at your institution?
Yes….the syllabus is one example of that. Students became more engaged once I started using the interactive syllabus. My colleagues work with “lecture capture” changed the look and feel of my online classes. Student feedback was that I was “present” in the course, unlike some of their other professors.