Sunday, January 23, 2011

Growing the PACER PLN

As I mentioned in an earlier post On Becoming a Tweep , I joined Twitter back in October thanks to the encouragement of Terry Ainge (@terryainge).  Since that time I have realized the benefits of establishing a Personal Learning Network (PLN).  Twitter has enabled me to:

- build my PLN and connect with educators globally
- establish face to face connections with other educators
- exchange resources (teaching & leaderships tips, blogs, publications, videos, etc) with others
- access and contribute to collaborative documents such as GoogleDocs
- ask questions and find out how other educators are approaching similar challenges
- answer questions and provide creative approaches for other educators
- share my persepctive with other educators
- challenge my own thinking by reading the perspectives of others

The beauty of Twitter is that I can constantly update and customize my PLN so that I can explore my own areas of interest. Other advantages of Twitter is its 'anytime', 'anywhere' accessibility.  Finally, Twitter breaks down any type of formal hierarchical structure.  Teachers, school-based administrators and district administrators interact freely with each other, sharing experiences, opinions, perspectives and resources with one another.

Over the past few months, Terry Ainge and I have been regularly sharing our positive experiences about Twitter with our colleagues.  In his post Using Twitter to Build a PLN  Terry describes some of the professional connections he has established and re-established through Twitter.  Our goal is to gradually build our PLN to include as many of our Delta Secondary colleagues as possible.  Much like Brian Kuhn (@bkuhn) says in his post, we are encouraging people  One Person at a Time to join the PACER PLN.  The response has been very encouraging. In a short time, the PACER PLN has grown to include 15 educators.

@agoelstevens (A. Goel-Stevens - Vice-Principal)
@gharkley (G. Harkley- Business Ed & Career Prep teacher)
@kgadowsky (K. Gadowsky -Delta Work Options Alternate Program teacher)
@rheagunning (R. Gunning - English teacher)
@dssev  (C. Mynott - Automotive & Math Teacher)
@jenheiden (J. Heiden - Learning Assistance & Communications teacher)
@samotohashi (S. Motohashi - Science teacher & Edublogger: ' New Teacher on the Block' )
@nic0lecruz (N. Cruz - Spanish teacher)
@stvcwn (S. Cowan - counsellor)
@robinjwait (R. Wait - English teacher)
@delta_wing  (G. Addison - Computer Animation teacher)
@danahuff75 (D. Huff - SS & Eng teacher)
@northdelta007 (B. Pannu - Science teacher)
@aakune (A. Akune - Vice-Principal & Edublogger: ' Educating in the 21st Century)
@terryainge (T. Ainge - Principal & Edublogger: 'Pacer Post' )

Each of us is at different stages in our use of Twitter.  The PACER PLN includes active tweeps, bloggers, beginning tweeps and passive tweeps.  Regardless of how each of is using Twitter presently, the important point is that each of us has jumped in and is experimenting with social networking as a means of continuing our professional development beyond the usual boundaries.

At Delta Secondary, staff participate in face-to-face collaboration time for one hour every second week.  This continues to be time well spent as teachers work on new and ongoing projects together.  As positive as collaboration time has been this year, the limitations of any face-to-face collaboration is that it can only happen at scheduled times, scheduled locations and can only involve a limited number of people.  The PACER PLN offers an extension of the conversations that are occurring during face-to-face collaboration.  Without the already mentioned limitations being a factor, ongoing conversations, planning and projects can be continued through Twitter.

During our upcoming collaboration day this Wednesday, the PACER PLN will be gathering to discuss how we can use Twitter in the most effective ways to connect Delta Secondary colleagues with each other and with others beyond the school. It's safe to say that I am extremely encouraged by the growth of the PACER PLN and I look forward to its continued growth over the coming days!


  1. One of the things Iike most about twitter is that it I the ultimate personalized learning. Unlike Facebook that is about the relationship twitter allows us to personalize our list of followers. While many of us likely share some that wefollow, my list and your list are different and that is ok.

    Congrats to you and Terry on building out the network at your school. It is a great model for the rest of us.


  2. Thanks for the comment Chris. I agree, the ability to personalize my learning by customizing who I choose to follow is a great feature of Twitter. As a result, very time I sign in to Twitter, I find myself drawn to someone's tweet or blog post. Sometimes the comments are reaffirming and inspirational, other times challenging and almost always quite informative.
    The challenge that lies ahead is to enable others to experience the value in creating their own PLN and contributing to it on a regular basis. When I sit down with colleagues in the Pacer PLN you will be one of the first people who I suggest they follow if they aren't already doing so. The process of growing the PLN requires patience but I'm optimistic that we have the right people interested in moving the conversations forward!


  3. What a great post. Thank you for sharing, Aaron! I think that is such a positive step your school is taking. I hope that I will be able to work at a school where so many people are taking such an active role in their profession and professional development. For me that is the most exiting part of being a teacher! I am looking forward to hearing what comes out of your meeting on Wednesday and what each individual has found during their time using twitter to build their PLN.

  4. I too, am excited that so many colleagues have signed up for Twitter. As with anything new, I think it's important to share 'why' Twitter is important and 'how' we can use the technology to our benefit. As a relative newbie to Twitter I continue to be inspired by others I network with through my PLN. I'm hoping that I can do the same for my colleagues here at Delta Secondary. Ultimately, I hope that our Pacer PLN contributes further to a collaborative culture at the school.

    It is great to see student teachers like yourself engaging in the use of technology. I appreciate you sharing your perspective and thoughts. I look forward to more sharing of ideas with you in the future.


  5. As you and I have talked a lot about in the past, there are those who 'talk' about change and forward movement, and those that actually 'promote' it. This shows how you are 'doing' it. Great stuff. I have been thinking of using Twitter to build PLN's for pro-d that are on-going and self-directed. Your entry shows it is working and gives some insights in to the possibilities. I look forward to trying it as you have done.

  6. Thanks Bernie! Building the Pacer PLN has taken patience. Much like I experienced myself, it is easy to sign up for a Twitter account and silently lurk. The part that requires time is for a person to gain the confidence and willingness to tweet to the world. Much like yourself, two Pacer teachers have started blogging. I am encouraged by the number of people at school who have expressed interest in joining and sharing with each other. I believe that Twitter enhances face-to-face collaboration and also contributes to a collaborative culture of learning in the school. I see it as my role to help support these people so that they can use Twitter in the most efficient and productive ways.

    I look forward to hearing about the creation and growth of the Marlin PLN!