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PLC vs. PLN and the Benefits of Both

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November 2011

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I can’t really describe the emotion I have after walking away from discussing something I’m passionate about with a like-minded individual.  The thought I have if generally, “Wow.  She actually gets it.”  I’m energized, I’m excited, and I’m typically eager to take another step.  This is what happens when I collaborate with my Professional Learning Community (PLC).

I also greatly appreciate my Professional Learning Network (PLN).  I typically think of this group as being broader, less personal, and more encompassing.  I am pretty focused on following people on Twitter, and connecting with people on LinkedIn that I feel I can learn from and/or with.

I think people usually have more than one PLC.  I have people that I would consider in my leadership PLC.  I have those that I go to with technology integration questions or ideas.  Other people are in my ELL PLC.  Get the picture?  All of these combined make up my PLN.  I know there are well-known education gurus who have coined their own definitions for PLC and PLN, but this is how it makes sense to me.

The other night I needed to get photos for my daughter uploaded to a site that required them be 100KB or larger.  I tried and tried, and couldn’t get it figured out (I know that it’s fairly simple – at least I know that now – but I don’t claim any great skills in photography editing. Find someone else to put into that PLC of yours).  Finally out of frustration, and my daughter’s hounding to just ask someone, I put out a plea on Facebook.  In seconds a friend in Peru had “liked” my status.  And in a few more seconds, a friend in Italy responded with a suggestion.  We messaged back and forth a couple of times, but within minutes of my post, I had a solution, and successfully edited photographs.  This was more of Personal Learning Community example, but I’ve had similar experiences when needing help with something professionally.

The best part is that social media allows us to enlarge our PLCs and PLNs beyond school walls and city limits.  And I have yet to find someone not willing to help.  It’s great to work, learn, and discuss together.  It is pretty easy to find someone who “gets it” and is willing to talk, tweet, message, or email – leaving me happier and more adept in my professional life.  Anyone want to talk shop?

 

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