Apr 5, 2011

How do we Create an Alternative Education PLN?

I've been fortunate enough to have some planning time this week. It comes just in time to prepare for the IAAE 2011 Spring Conference, where I will be facilitating a technology round table discussion. I don't know how many people, if any, will come to the discussion; but I've still been trying to plan things to share with anyone who stops by. It is difficult, though! There is so much out there in terms of technology that it is hard to narrow down what is most important for alternative educators. In the end, what I've considered is what has most impacted my life as an educator and therefore my students' learning. That impact comes from my newfound ability to communicate with other like-minded educator from across the globe through Twitter and blogs.

In Iowa (and in other places) alternative educators are often isolated. We teach in one-room schoolhouses or in small programs with very few colleagues. District-wide inservices rarely cover topics that relate to what we do in our classrooms. We don't fit into any other department in the district. For professional development purposes, I'm often left unassigned to group meetings or lumped in with special educators or guidance counselors. On a day to day basis, I miss having colleagues with whom I can brainstorm and share stories. The Iowa Association of Alternative Education's annual State Conference is the first place where I made connections with colleagues who do what I do. Each year when I attend the conference it feels like I'm going home.

But the conference only comes once a year--what about some daily interaction?

That's where Twitter comes in! Through Twitter, I've met a few more alternative educators from across the U.S. and I've met some traditional educators who think alternatively. It is wonderful to exchange ideas with these people! Our interactions make me strongly believe that my IAAE colleagues should try to join in on the conversation. I would love to see more alternative educators on Twitter! I've advertised on #edchat and joined the Educator's PLN at-risk/alternative group to look for other alternative educators; but so far only one more person has joined me... How do I find more alternative educators? Are they out there? Are alternative educators nationwide lagging behind when it comes to having an online presence? or are they just too busy to interact with each other?

If you were looking to start an online PLN of alternative educators, where would you start?

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