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March 11, 2013


Summer Project Proposal – Establishing a Personal Learning Network (PLN)

plntoolMy project involves establishing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) for myself and faculty on our campus. It involves establishing an online presence and building a community on various social media sites for myself and our CTLE. I will research blogs, organizations and professionals to include in this community, as well as produce content for our blog covering the best pedagogical practices in online teaching. The goal of the PLN is to get faculty “to connect, collaborate and contribute so that we can become aware, connected, empowered, and confident learners.” I will spend time researching and learning about creating a successful PLN and how to get others involved. Attending a national conference, researching and reading will help me produce PLN content and connections.

As an online instructor and eCourses Faculty Lead for my college, the general purpose of my project is to increase my knowledge and the knowledge of our ecourses faculty of the best pedagogical practices in online teaching by establishing a Personal Learning Network (PLN). “Personal Learning Networks are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning.” It’s a system of lifelong learning and provides support for learners to manage their learning and to communicate with others in the process of learning. This PLN will be used for professional development and will help myself and other faculty learn from content-area specialists and each other. In order to create this network, I need to improve my skills and knowledge in the process and learn about best practices for creating such networks, as well as learn how to help and motivate others to join the network. The true value of this project is that the learning doesn’t end after the final report is submitted.

My goal is to do this by first attending The Teaching Professor Conference to learn theoretically sound ideas covering the following topics:  course design, teaching and learning with technology, learner-centered teaching, active learning techniques, teaching and engaging unprepared students, and assignment strategies. My participation in this 3 day conference will equip me with new skills and strategies that will augment my strengths as a teacher and leader for eCourses on our campus, and give me a chance to make connections for the PLN, but also to gain ideas for content for our contributions to the network.

We currently have social media on our campus: Twitter, Google+ and a WordPress blog; however, these tools are not currently being used effectively, not in the manner I know they can be. I will do research to learn from other institutions who have developed PLNs, find appropriate communities to join and create an easy plan for others to join our network. Considerable time will be spent on learning about Google+ and the new “Communities” feature, as well as developing my own resources. In addition, I plan to set up several new tools that will add value to the PLN, those being LinkedIn and Diigo.

This project aligns with my college goals in that we are piloting Google+ right now as a way to distribute communications across the campus. It hasn’t taken off as our marketing department had hoped, but my project will help with that. My project gets at the why and how of connecting, collaborating and contributing that is important for learning new things. Our eCourses Strategic Plan Mission Statements states that our plan provides guidelines, course management goals, and strategies within the context of the changing environment of distance education. Participating in this projects helps me stay abreast to the changing environments, gain the skills and knowledge necessary to support our strategic plan goals and help our ecourses faculty in the process.