My PLN At A Glance

Last night I promised myself I would get started on my grad work (I’m currently taking a course in assistive technology through Lesley University) and not participate in the digital citizenship Twitter chat which I co-moderate alongside Marialice Curran, Susan Bearden, Sandy Kendell, Craig Badura, Glenn Robbins and Kay Connors. However, I couldn’t resist.

I ended up being a part of the discussion which centered around the role of parents in digital citizenship education. This is something I feel passionate about not only as an educator, but as a parent myself. My seven year old has been begging me to tell her my password and she’s promised me she “won’t spend a lot of money on apps.” She gets the same response every time. A simple and direct “no.” There are some things I may give in to now and then, but a lesson on digital citizenship, even though she doesn’t realize that’s what I’m teaching her (yet) is not one of those things. Once she is ready to get some type of online account which requires a password, she’ll understand the importance of keeping passwords confidential. And she’ll have learned that lesson from me. As her parent, it’s my responsibility to educate my child about the world she lives in, both the physical and the digital world. My mission, and I think it is one that is shared by my fellow #digcit moderators, is to empower all parents within our school communities to take an active role in educating their own children about the broad concept of digital citizenship.

I realize this isn’t something that will be accomplished overnight. Fortunately, appropriate use of technology is a topic that is gaining more attention through various media outlets, so I think the odds are in our favor. That being said, I know how busy parents are juggling work, kids, school, and maybe some personal time is sprinkled in here and there. So how can I get them involved in the broader conversation of digital citizenship? What can I do to convince parents in my school community to devote an hour of their already over-booked schedule to spend an evening learning about digital citizenship? Thanks to last night’s chat, I may propose to develop something similar to “coffee nights” for parents in Burlington, which was an idea that Susan Bearden mentioned. We’ve already offered a workshop on Parenting in the Digital Age and provide a collection of resources on the Help Desk blog, but because it’s such a broad topic and is changing all the time, I’d like to see digital citizenship become a more consistent theme for parents.

Last night’s chat also focused on showing parents positive examples of student use of social media and that too has my wheels turning. Maybe a student panel is another option for this coming spring? But what I’d really like to offer is a hands-on workshop targeted to parents and students and give them the opportunity to create their first LinkedIn profile
and/or a digital resume. I know many students and parents are thinking about next steps after high school, or if they aren’t they know they should be, and what they can do to be competitive and get noticed by employers. Students coming out of Burlington have so many accomplishments to showcase. With the right amount of coaching , students could create an online presence that helps them build a network and ultimately helps them achieve their goals. Bottom line is that last night, although I did lose an hour of time I had originally planned to devote to my online course, was time well spent. So when I read the news today that Twitter may be beta testing new features, and getting rid of hashtags, I started thinking about the implications that could have on the thousands of educators who connect and share via Twitter. I think doing away with hashtags would be a huge mistake. Hashtags allow educators to follow certain topics, and they also serve as a source of entertainment.

I personally use Twitter as a source of inspiration, a place to showcase the work of students and colleagues within my district, and for professional networking. For me, Twitter isn’t about 140 characters. It’s about connecting with the stakeholders of my school community and fellow educators from across the world. Many of the people in my PLN I see everyday because I work with them, or they take my classes. Others I’ve met in person at conferences and have remained connected thanks to Twitter. And a few folks in my network have become legitimate friends of mine.

So when last night’s chat ended, I got straight to work. I dove into the discussion thread and I came across a very honest reflection authored by one of my classmates. He disclosed how he wanted to start integrating more technology into his math lessons so he could increase student engagement and spark creativity among his students. After reading his reflection, I decided to share with him some resources that might help him achieve his goals. I passed along Jerry Blumengarten’s math page. I forewarned him that it might be overwhelming due to the sheer number of resources, but I recommended he start with a few tools and start building his own library of links that are applicable to his curriculum. The last thing I encouraged him to do was join the math chat on Thursdays at 7:30. I don’t know if my classmate will take my advice, but I hope he does. I remember when I discovered Twitter and what it could do for me, or should I say what the people in my Twitter network could do for me, in terms of my growth as an educator. I’m fortunate to have such great people in my PLN.

So last night, I decided to give a try to create my own custom background for my Twitter page. When I was done and I was able to look at it, I saw so many faces of people that play a meaningful role in my life. Leaders I admire who helped me during my capstone project on tech-savvy leadership, former students who are either in college or who have highly successful careers, my current students whom I get to work with everyday, my Burlington colleagues, folks I’ve met at Edcamp Boston (last May) and Maine (just a few weeks ago!) and people that I’ve “hungout with” via the Help Desk Live show. Basically, my new background represents the eclectic mix of the people who make up my personal learning network. I’m glad to be connected to them and for the things I am able to learn from them every day. So what does your PLN look like?


  • All I can say is, “I sure feel bad for all the other organizations Jenn may have interviewed at, or was part of, that overlooked the potential and value that Jenn could add to their organization… BHS really added an asset to their team when thu hited Jenn. I wish I had a full-time position available when Jenn was searching for her next opportunity…. Hiring her would have been like hiring three people in one! Keep up the fine work, enthusiasm, and spreading the good word about business education and digital citizenship! (After all when she offered to show me her blog I replied, “oh Jenn I’m not into that kind of stuff…” She said, “just try it…” And look at me now… Following her posts and having her as a speaker at last year’s 89th annual NHBEA Conference to discuss Technology in the Classroom!)

    • Hi Mike,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my post. Your kind words mean a great deal to me. I’ve found blogging for “personal” reasons to be somewhat challenging, especially now that I’m in an online graduate course, but I am squeezing in posts as often as possible. Thank you again for being so supporting of my efforts! I hope all is well and that we can connect at a future NH conference.

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