Connecting & Sharing with Networks

Teacher leader uses the professional learning network (PLN) structure to get connected to fellow educators to improve their practice.
Made by Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Learning at USD
Earn Graduate Credit
Graduate-level credit is available for this micro-credential. You can apply for credit through one of our university partners after successfully completing the micro-credential.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Teacher leader uses professional learning networks (PLNs) to connect with other educators, share work, seek feedback, and stay abreast of best practices.

Method Components

Suggested strategies for getting connected and sharing with networks:

  • Get connected on social media (e.g., Twitter, Edmodo, Instagram, Google+, etc.) and grow your PLN. Follow leaders, researchers, speakers, published authors, and other educators you admire and want to learn from.
    • Share your thinking and practice.
    • Post pictures. Pose questions. Repost other people’s ideas. Give feedback to others.
    • Seek feedback and advice from other practitioners in the field.
  • Use hashtags. Hashtags are useful for finding information as well as curating information.
  • Attend conferences to physically connect and grow your PLN.
  • Participate in Twitter chats to push your thinking and get experience sharing your thoughts in a virtual space.
  • Subscribe to a blog on a topic of interest.
  • Write your own blog, using hashtags to gain an audience.
  • Attend webinars on topics that interest you or align with your professional goals
  • Designate professional and personal accounts for the different spheres of your life.
  • Use a bookmarking or curation tool (e.g., Diigo, Pinterest, Curata, etc.) to manage your resources.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Trust, T. (2012). Professional Learning Networks Designed for Teacher Learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(4), 133-138.

Many teachers have extended their learning by developing online professional learning networks (PLNs). PLNs connect teachers to other individuals worldwide who can offer support, advice, feedback, and collaboration opportunities. PLNs also allow teachers to collect information from various websites and access it in one organized area so they can efficiently stay up to date on the latest teaching techniques, pedagogies, and changes in the field of education.

Educational reform networks are particularly well suited to making use of new technology and institutional arrangements. By their very nature, they are flexible, borderless, and innovative; they are able to create collaborative environments, focus their efforts, and develop agendas that grow and change with their participants. Teacher educators who collaborate with, learn from, and make use of the knowledge created by these networks are helping to recreate the meaning of scholarship itself, not only for teachers, but for themselves as well.

Microblogging as a form of expression has gained momentum recently: a widely popular version is Twitter, which began by asking ‘What are you doing?’ This paper reports on a case study with eight participants during a teaching practicum, posting to Twitter from their phones or computers, examining the question ‘Does microblogging help teacher education students develop selfäóreflective practices?’ An identified benefit was a sense of community. Participants appreciated reading others’ tweets and receiving messages of support when they faced challenging situations. And while 140 characters were initially difficult and limiting for explaining ideas, it honed participants’ reflective thinking. This was highly valued in the very individual experience of teaching practicum.

Implementing studentäócentered, inquiryäóbased science pedagogy in secondary classrooms, though identified as the goal by all science education professional organizations, is rarely a reality in today’s classrooms. Therefore, teachers committed to reform often lack a “local” network with whom they can interact around this new professional discourse of reformäóminded teaching. Emerging social networking technologies such as blogging offer potential to support professional learning through the development of likeäóminded communities not geographically or temporally constrained. This article reports on how 15 secondary science teachers committed to reform used blogs to support their efforts to develop reformäóbased practices. Findings illuminate varied ways in which participants did so and what they gained as a result.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview question

(300-word limit)

  • Please describe the networks you joined, including the details of your involvement in the PLN. This may include things like: connections you have made, ideas and/or resources you have shared, feedback you’ve received, etc.

Part 2. Work examples/artifacts

Please submit several artifacts that demonstrate your activity in your PLN, including such items as:

  • Link to social media account
  • Screenshots of interaction with other educators
  • Screencast showcasing activity from PLN

Part 3. Reflection

(300-word limit)

Provide a reflection on your experience, using the following questions as guidance:

  • How has involvement in a PLN improve your practice?
  • What is one of your most impactful learnings from your PLN, and how might you integrate that into your practice?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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