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Creating Your Own Online Professional Learning Community
posted by: Melissa | January 16, 2013, 08:39 PM   

For all the research out there pointing to the benefits of having school-wide Professional Learning Communities or PLCs, the fact remains that many schools still operate in such a way that isolates their teachers instead of inviting collaboration.  Teachers in this type of environment are not left without options for forming an effective PLC.


As the internet, social networks, and connectivity grows, there are more and more tools for teachers to both learn and collaborate online. This new tech-driven world allows a teacher to create their own Professional Learning Community online, even if time for collaboration at work is limited.

Setting up an online PLC for yourself is a little harder than just logging into your favorite social network and adding a bunch of teachers as friends. PLCs are more than just talking to other teachers.  The key difference between a PLC and a social group is that the PLC is formed with a shared purpose of improving the craft of teaching and all interactions revolve around that goal.

Since teachers creating an online PLC do not have a group or school wide goal that they are already working on, North Carolina’s Department of Education suggests that the first thing a teacher creating an online PLC needs to do is decide on a personal goal for their teaching.  This could be something like finding more resources on a topic, writing better tests, or exploring new strategies for approaching a topic.

Once a goal is set, you can figure out the best platform in which to do it. There are many platforms that teachers can use for building PLCs. Options for teachers include creating a blog and reading and participating in other’s blogs, joining a forum or website dedicated to professional learning (such as, leveraging an existing social network like Twitter,  or creating your own social network through a site like Ning.

Of course, none of these sites needs to be used in isolation. Teachers can combine different sites and platforms together to find what works for them.  It is also important to maintain your professional face while exploring and using these tools.  Your professional Facebook page is not the same as your personal one.  You will find that even when using sites you are familiar with on a personal level as part of your professional learning community, that the way you use and approach these sites changes.

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