September 22- What does your PLN look like? What does it do for you teaching?
My PLN started over 30 years ago - back in the days of online BBS and 300 baud modems. A teenage boy from St. Johnsbury Academy who was running his own BBS helped me set up my first telecommunication account. Back them a BBS was the pony express of what we know today, but it was invaluable in connecting me to some of the education's early adopters of technology. Living in the northeast kingdom of Vermont (one of its most rural parts) could have been very isolating, but because of the power of technology to connect me with others, I was able to not only remove the isolation, but also become stay ahead of the curve regarding emerging technology. I would say it gave me a head start on establishing myself as a leader in educational technology, despite the fact that I lived in one of the most rural areas of Vermont.
My network of professional colleagues started to grow and has not stopped since those days. I've been involved in some amazing list-servs (my favorite of which is the School-IT listserve filled with Vermont educators who work with IT in schools). In 2007 I joined Twitter and have met the most amazing educators. Most recently I have added Google+ to my PLN and have been able to enrich it with Google Communities and Google Hangouts.
My PLN has brought me opportunities that I would have never have heard about or had the opportunity to partake in (including an incredible trip with 30 educators to visit schools in Taiwan or team blogging with some amazing leaders in educational technology for the Infinite Thinking Machine). But mostly it has brought me with valuable bits of knowledge about current trends in education or answered questions I've had just when I needed the answer.
In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the central role that three personality types–that he calls Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen–play in social epidemics.
I would definitely say I'm a connector. I like to connect people who might benefit from knowing each other. As a matter of fact, just a few years ago I got married to an amazing man who I met online through my PLN over 20 years ago. Who would have thought!