My project involved establishing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) for myself and faculty on our campus. It involved establishing an online presence and building a community on various social media sites for myself and our CTLE. I researched blogs, organizations and professionals to include in this community, as well as produced content for our blog covering the best pedagogical practices in online teaching. The goal of the PLN was to get faculty to connect, collaborate and contribute so that we can become aware, connected, empowered, and confident learners. I spent time researching and learning about creating a successful PLN and how to get others involved. I attended a national conference, researched and read to help me produce PLN content and connections.
A description of your experience and the achievement of expected learning outcomes of the project.
I now have a better understanding of the effective uses of discussion in online courses, strategies for preparing students for effective and productive discussion, ground rules that help make students feel sufficiently safe to participate in discussion, and how to structure discussion to help achieve learning goals after attending a pre-conference workshop at the Teaching Professor conference in May. After I returned from the conference, I was able to immediately improve my online summer course to include better student to student interactions as prescribed by the best practices presented at the workshop. I picked up lots of best practices, not just in the pre-conference workshop, but in many of the sessions as well. Students in my summer online class expressed appreciation for the new, small group led discussions.
For the PLN part of my project, I was able to create a list of possible content for our blog, which is the hub of our PLN and the mechanism for sharing with other faculty within the network for these best practices for teaching online. I was able to research and find free Twitter curation tools to enhance the PLN. I also learned more about hashtags and how to get more out of your PLN using Twitter and hashtags. I wasn’t able to work closely with our CTLE, but the completion of the project resulted in some good professional development activities, not just for me, but for all faculty on our campus. I created content for workshops on building online lessons with numerous online lesson creation tools. I’ve presented on that twice so far this fall. And I’m putting the final touches on a workshop on How to Get More Out of Your PLN. So I was able to improve our workshop offerings for faculty to include information learned at the conference, as well as during the development of the PLN.
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