The Educator's PLN

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Hi everyone,

Do you have a moment to share your thoughts about your experience here?

Background: my school is one of 33 participating in a statewide (NJ) program exploring professional learning communities (called "PLC Lab Schools".) I believe in the power of OLCs so I've offered to help the NJDOE set one up for the initiative. The problem: these communities are so easy to build - but so hard to get "right!" I'm doing some research before we go any further.

Here are my questions ... I'd be grateful if you'd answer any of them (or even share something totally unrelated):

1) What makes this community successful?

2) What keeps you coming back?

3) What are the key roles in an OLC - who does what - to keep it relevant, interesting and meaningful?

Thanks so much!

-kj-

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“Leadership is the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.”
- Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge

Kevin Jarrett
Technology Facilitator, K-4
Northfield Community School
Northfield, NJ USA

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I think seed topics and good, rich questions along the way help keep the conversation going. Just like they do in a classroom.
1. I think questions 1 and 2 are the same. What makes the community successful and what keeps me coming back are the people. Where else can your openly ask questions without reservation? It is exciting to be a member of a group that will support you when questions/problems arise.

3. Key roles in an OLC? I don't really know as I am new to the PLN/OLC idea. I would say that there are natural leaders that emerge and help facilitate discussions. Without those key leaders, the conversations might be dead in the water.
Thanks for weighing in, Bridget!
I'm definitely interested in the answers to these questions, since I've just started two very different projects, both involving a Ning. One includes people already well-versed in the concept of online learning communities, and the other involves a group of complete novices. I'm curious how they will both play out.

Here are my answers to these questions:

1. This specific community for me is still in the developing stages. I don't feel anchored here yet, but getting involved in the discussions I think will help. The conversation and information sharing is the whole point of a PLN for me.

2. I'm not sure yet what will keep me coming back. I'm still exploring.

3. I think it depends on the OLC. If it's a task-oriented one, then there needs to be one or two designated point people to monitor and keep things moving. If it's an open community like this, then I think different circles will begin to form organically, and I'm not sure it needs a leader--sub groups will determine their individual interests and needs and spin off their own conversations.

Take my answers with a large grain of salt, too--I'm still pretty new to this whole process and time will tell how I end up using it.

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