Melissa Giddins

Exploring technology and literacy in education.

PLN in Action

I spend a lot of time talking to teachers at the beginning of their journey into the integration of technology and I promote the idea of a PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network) to each and every one of them. As part of this I recommend getting on Twitter and following educators there. On Twitter, there is a constant flow of information and you can partake in more professional development in an hour on Twitter than you could at a full day workshop, both from the accumulation of resources and practical suggestions, and from the philosophical discussions.  Beyond that though is the ability to ask a question and receive suggestions, ideas and alternative resources. To illustrate this for all the newbies out there, let me show you an example of what happened yesterday.

I posted on Twitter that I was going to be using Google Docs with my students for the first time on Monday and that the principal would be watching, did anyone have any suggestions? hints? tips? Firstly, it got Retweeted by @sandynay to reach a wider audience than just the people who follow me:

 sandynay RT @melissagiddins: Going to use Google Docs for the first time with kids on Monday, with principal watching! Any hints? tips?

Then the responses started rolling in:

After receiving these, I put out a message saying that Google Docs was blocked, so maybe I would try wallwisher and did anyone have any tips or suggestions about that? The responses continued to roll in:

I then sent a tweet back explaining that the students would be brainstorming ideas and that normally I would just have the students write all their answers on the whiteboard but then they have to copy it into their books so I was looking for a digital solution to cut down time. The responses continued:

As you can see, this is now a flood of information, suggestions and alternative resources. I then said that I had forgotten how to do a filter check to see if students had access to a website. Two instant responses:

Then I checked out Nota that Pip had suggested, and asked whether I should create a private version rather than a public version.

I felt like I had received plenty of info and suggestions and said thanks to all those who had participated in the conversation. The responses, however, just kept rolling in, long after I had gone offline, and were waiting for me when I returned:

Not bad for a Saturday morning. I had access to numerable suggestions and resources, philosophical advice, past experiences and all of it answered when I needed an answer – on Saturday when I was doing the preparation, not on Monday when maybe I could make phone calls. For the record, here are the statistics:

  • 49 responses in total
  • 5 links to other websites with lists of alternative tools
  • When Google Docs was clearly unavailable the following suggestions were made: wallwisher, Nota, Lino-It, Sticky Notes, Wikis, IWBs, Moodle wikis,, Freemind and Moodle 2 wikis.

Really, people, that is incredible. Why be on Twitter? Why have a PLN? If this doesn’t demonstrate a practical application for both, then I don’t know what will convince you!


May 16, 2010 - Posted by | PLN | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Great post, Melissa. It effectively highlights the value of Twitter, especially, as well as PLNs in general. I totally agree with you on the enormous value of Twitter. Since joining last year I have learnt so much about technology, found heaps of valuable resources and been able to ponder the ‘big issues” with like minded people. In fact, I have learnt more in the past year than ever before. As well, I have met wonderful people from around the state and around the world. Not bad, not bad at all!

    Comment by Paula Madigan | May 16, 2010 | Reply

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