A Plan for a Pre-service PLN by Tom Whitby

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Before I start out on my explanation of fast tracking pre-service teachers with Personal Learning Networks, I would like to Thank Shelly Terrell for the opportunity, the help, and the location for this presentation. Shelly has been a large influence in my PLN, and a good friend.
Teaching Pre-service Teachers
Over the last six months I have developed a Personal Learning Network, which has influenced my educational philosophy as well as my teaching methods. I am an adjunct Professor of Education at St. Joseph’s College in New York. This semester I am working with sixteen students preparing to do their student teaching assignments in secondary English. For their preparation I am giving them the gift that keeps on giving, their own Personal Learning Networks.As I have explained in other blogs I have developed and now maintain an extensive PLN of several thousand educators. It has become as much a part of what I do as teaching. I spent a great deal of time developing it, and I also spend a great deal of time learning from it. My pre-service teachers certainly could take as much time as they would like to learn from their PLN’s, but there is not enough time in the semester to really develop one. Students cannot learn from what they did not yet have. I needed a plan.
My Plan
I was not worried. I was dealing with the youth of America. They are tech savvy and eager to learn. I only had to mention two or three applications they needed to know and we would be off and running. To help out I created a Ning site and loaded it with many of the sources that I gleaned from my own PLN to help guide these students through their training to student teach. I was confident that I could accomplish this with the Ning site, Twitter, and Delicious. I would keep it simple. Of course you remember the best made plans of mice and men…
Surprises
On the first day of class I discovered first hand three applications that Tech Savvy American youth have never seen-Ning, Delicious and Twitter. Only one of the sixteen students had even seen Twitter. No one knew what a Ning was, and forget about Delicious. To complicate things further I broke my own cardinal rule as an educator. I had no plan B. I loaded the Ning site with video tutorials and plodded on. I needed cooperation from everyone and I needed it fast.
A Great Gift: A PLN
My friend Shelly Terrell volunteered to gather the names of my students as they opened their Twitter accounts. That was a great way to introduce collaboration on Twitter and provided a needed deadline for them to get on Twitter. My next step was to get them education followers who they could follow in turn. I once proposed that a great gift for Administrators would be a preloaded Twitter Account. Since that proposal, I believe that I have altered my opinion. The preloaded account does not enable the owner to understand the process. I believe I have found a better way.As each one of my students opened an account I introduced them to my PLN. The PLN responded to my request to follow each of my students. The Twitter Timeline being what it is gave each of my students a different set of educators in each PLN. I am now going to refer my PLN to a list of all of my students so they can follow en masse. My students in turn will follow back. At the end of this process each student will have acquired a vetted PLN, since it would have come from educators I have gathered and trust.Any educator with an effective PLN can do the same thing for an administrator. This is a blueprint for involving anyone in this process which is a growing movement among educators. This demonstrates the power of the Personal Learning Network in its ability to help people accomplish goals. Until the next best thing in technology comes along this social media is providing a platform for information exchange, discussion, and collaboration. Those are important components being offered globally to educators to promote learning.
Help Tom Whitby’s pre-service teachers by being a part of their PLN! Just add the names by clicking on this button!

====================================Tom Whitby is a Professor of Education in Secondary English, Linkedin group founder and owner of Technology-Using Professors, TWITTER-Using Educators, as well as NING-Using Educators.Read Tom Whitby’s PLN Blueprint series to learn how to develop an effective PLN.

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