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Professional Learning Network Plan

Updated: Apr 16

Professional Learning Network Plan

1. Thought Leadership Goals: My current and planned professional area of expertise and influence

I would like to be known for a thought leadership role in science museum education. A thought leader in the development of museum educational technologies could be described as being a trusted source for reliable and accurate information that leads to collaboration on and creation of fun learning technologies. In order to be perceived as being reliable, I could link my PLN to published works in open-sourced journals. A good thought leader in this type of science communication would be someone with a background in science, as well as disseminating technical information in ways non-experts can understand.

I have set a high goal of becoming a successful science educator via the development of museum learning technologies. My current professional expertise is continuously under construction. I love to collect knowledge about many subjects, so I’ve developed skills in many different areas. I am currently employed by The University of Colorado’s Systems Office which allows me to develop important skills I’ll need to further my career in the education business. Information and Learning Technologies is a degree program that many of my coworkers have graduated from, which gives me hope that I am going in the right direction. I have set a high goal of becoming a successful science educator via the development of museum learning technologies. I plan on learning from experienced museum professionals to help me understand how the best exhibits and displays operate and why. I draw influence from many places including my own experiences with fun learning activities at museums I’ve been to or researched. I am greatly influenced by interactive technology that is placed in museums like the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland. As far as I know, OMSI has the widest variety of hands-on exhibits that use learning technologies. Put simply, my thought leadership goals are being known as an expert in museum learning technologies and science communication.

2. Professional Learning Network: Description of network

My professional learning network can be described as a small platform for the exchange of ideas and resources for museum education professionals. My network consists of my base camp website with networked learning space. I have decided to integrate my networked learning space with my base camp site since Wix.com allows that capability. I have a variety of pages and subpages. The Home page has subpages of my teaching philosophy as well as a video gallery. Next I have an About page detailing why I created the website. Under the main page there are three subpages; Resume, Design Plan, and Implementation. My Portfolio page will provide my audience with information regarding Interpretation, Outreach, e-Learning, and Crowdsourcing. I chose these for my portfolio section since they are the focus areas I’ve been working with most recently, also they are both relevant to my career goals. The next page is my blog, Reflections, which I hope to grow more and more each day. I also provide people with a Resource page, Forum, and Membership pages. The Forum page will eventually contain everything that’s currently in my Google+ Communities Networked Learning Space and the Membership page is also under construction. I hope that people will use the sign up sheet to “join” the learning space which will allow them to add content to the Forum page. Finally, I have an email newsletter that people can choose to sign up for that will keep them up to date with the latest blog post and news in the museum industry.

​3. How I’ll use my PLN to address my thought leadership goals

I will use my personal learning network to address thought leadership goals in the following ways. Thought leadership begins on a foundation of trust, so I aim to always give my followers a factual and updated set of resources. If your website becomes out of date, people will notice right away and quit following you as a thought leader. Being factual and accurate are always pertinent when providing information to people who trust you. As soon as you provide inaccurate information - knowingly or unknowingly - it jeopardizes your standing as a thought leader.

My learning network will grow, which will help me attain the status of a thought leader. My hope is that the personal learning network will become a popular site for a group of museum education professionals, who will then share the network with friends and coworkers. My thought leadership goals will be achieved through my professional learning network by forming relationships with peers, mentors, experts, or colleagues. I will make an effort to use social media to help direct people to all my network’s offerings.

4. Description of the current social networking and media tools I use, and how I use them

My Networked Learning Space site is intended to broadly interlink educators and students who use and design museum technologies so that they may gain ideas, resources, and connections for creating interactive exhibits and lobby displays. I will continue to encourage educators, designers, and students to collaborate using the platform I’ve created, so that they may exchange ideas and gain inspiration for new projects. People who use lobby display technologies will be able to give feedback using polls and comments about which projects interest them, how they’d like to see them modified, and how they could be improved in order to attract more visitors. I hope this becomes a fun platform for people and that this concept of a community around museum education expands beyond the realm of Google+ Communities. It could be that the ideas people gain while interacting with this community I’m building will have real impact on museums in Colorado and beyond.

I will continue to build a learning audience by developing digital resources to extend lessons beyond the physical museum exhibit. After a class field trip teachers might share activities they saw posted on my network that accompany museum exhibit lessons, for example. Teachers could then assign homework and print out worksheets posted and easily located by index/tag. I’ll eventually provide a modest platform for people designing a scavenger hunt type of app, in addition to my general platform that is intended for anyone interested in the topic of technology in museums. A scavenger hunt activity in a museum would increase the dwell time at exhibits, especially if small puzzles had to be completed before the learners could proceed to the next clue. These are some of the topics we’ll discuss in my community and I expect that if educators share materials from community with their friends and colleagues the learning audience will grow naturally over time.

5. Role of Base Camp Site and Networked Learning Space: Description of the role my base camp/ blog will have in realizing my thought leadership goals

My base camp and blog will support the realization of my thought leadership goals by helping boost my personal learning network. Building my personal learning network is necessary for finding connections with people in my career field of interest, especially since it’s a niche specialization. The base camp is a place I can direct people to for instruction, resources, and advice. Once people respect me as a thought leader, I will gain a strong platform for career success. Ultimately, the role of my site is to have a place where I can direct people to find out about my personal expertise, as well as providing a network of like-minded individuals who have knowledge to share.

This networked learning space will be focused on museum and planetarium technologies, and how they impact the depth and scope of learning. I’ll moderate a forum for a target learning audience of young entrepreneurs and educators in order to connect, exchange ideas, and describe their experiences. My site will help me to realize my thought leadership goals by being a superior source of curated information. I will made sure to address the needs of my audience and take the advice I get, using it to modify the space as needed to make it the most helpful.

I am currently utilizing Google+ Communities in an educational setting by allowing people to connect with each other and exchange ideas after a field trip to a museum. Using forums at home or at school to connect with a network aids in extending a lesson well beyond the field trip, and it helps educators design activities for afterwards.

6. Strategic Plan for Establishing Web Presence​: How I will achieve the (10) SEO strategies (Lowenthal and Dunlap)

  • Getting a professional website and a domain name with my full name in it

  • Regularly update my site

  • Maintain a blog

  • Post manuscripts

  • Post presentations and teaching materials

  • Track my traffic

  • Publish my work in open-access journals

  • Publish my work via social media

  • Leverage social networks

  • Increase my search engine ranking by submitting my basecamp and NLS sites to Google for indexing

  • I’ll be a good user of others’ content

  • Review others’ work

  • Contribute to other sites

  • Organize professional resources into an open access repository

  • Complete all profiles

  • Title things in a “Googleable” way

  • Promote new publications/ presentations

I will continue to strive to meet the 10 SEO strategies outlined above. I eventually plan on investing in my own domain using my full name in the web address. This will improve and increase the scope of my reputation as a thought leader and education professional. In order to establish a web presence I’ll regularly update my site, maintaining a current and relevant blog. I will make sure to post any manuscripts I create, and I will continue to post presentations and teaching materials. I plan on tracking the traffic to my site since Wix.com has a widget that allows you to do so. I’ll publish my work in open-access journals so that they may reach a wider audience. Leveraging social media to advertise my website will be a challenge for me but I am working to have a better relationship with social media. Something else I might do is increase my search engine rankings by submitting my basecamp and networked learning space to google for indexing.

7. Privacy Concerns and Strategies: How you will protect information while still contributing to online communities

Like Paul Miller in his TEDxEutropolis talk “A Year Offline, What I Have Learned,” being connected to people has definitely been a struggle for me since "quitting the internet". But leaving the internet will not totally fix the problem of being overwhelmed with privacy concerns. Staying up to date with current events in the world and in the lives of your loved ones has genuine value that cannot be ignored. Now I'm even learning that social media can be used for educational purposes and I'm very excited to find out more about this positive use of the tool. It's tough to figure out how you use the power of the internet. You have to decide to have an intentional relationship with technology and not let it control you. In order to protect information while still contributing to online communities, I intend to share only information that I’m okay with being critiqued and reshared.

Considering issues and concerns surrounding the use of social networking and media tools, I’ve gathered some resources I considered helpful when debating this issue. Digitally networked public spaces are something Boyd talked about in Danah Boyd: The Future of Privacy in Social Media and it made me think about how people gather in public forums like town squares, parks, etc. and talk loudly about their thoughts, but those thoughts are not necessarily recorded so there's an extra level of "privacy" in that type of public space. Participation online is public by default and private by choice, so you have to be conscious of what image you're projecting about yourself. Young people online are using strategies like compartmentalizing their lives, creating different accounts for family and friends.

Data permanence (NPR "All Things Considered" with Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen -- executives at Google -- on the topic of privacy and security in the digital age.) is a huge issue because people don't realize how easy it is to dig up information on someone from their past since platforms do not always allow you to delete your data. Especially if you created an account with an old email address which you cannot access anymore. Putting things out online can reach many people but might not always be the thing you want to get out and spread. People don't want to hear about your serious concerns, as Boyd brought up. Anything negative you put out there online spreads so much faster and is so much more permanent than the information you actually want people to know about you. I was surprised to hear that the average blog gets only 6 readers (discouraging). You have to navigate your "invisible audience" and sometimes you don't even reach your target audience but you get the attention of those who might be counterproductive to your community.

8. Next Steps with Social Networking/ Media

  • How you will use social media in supporting your PLN thought leadership goals

  • What social media and networking tools are you going to try and why

Social media and networking have supported my personal and professional learning in many ways. I've recently graduated from the department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at CU Boulder. Since I'm not naturally strong in math or physics I relied heavily on social sites like YouTube, WolframAlpha, and KhanAcademy. When I was looking for work I used sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor. As I work on my professional learning network I’ll continue using the sources I’ve always relied on to fill in gaps in my knowledge base, but also explore many new resources so I can share them with others. I plan on exploring all the offerings of Wix, Google+ Communities, and WordPress.

I was inspired to look at social media through a more positive lens, and what helped me do so is some of the materials we watched and read in this course. In John Seely Brown’s description of social learning online he describes the use of networks and re-imagining libraries online. I agree with what he says about the Internet, nobody agrees and topics have no boundaries. I think he’s onto something when he says libraries must make the most of digital technology in order to stay ahead of the game. Libraries play so many roles in our communities. Libraries are communities and ecosystems. I know the Boulder library has an amazing makerspace now associated with it, which would be an example of what Seely is talking about. I liked his description/ diagram of Homo Sapien, Homo Faber, and Homo Ludens. This idea intrigued me and wanted to know more about theories on how to blend knowing, making, and playing. Seely has elements in his presentation that mirror those written in Siemens’ learning and knowing in networks. Both, for example, described how playing is a key part of learning. Sometimes, the best learning occurs through minimal guidance.

In Don Tapscott’s open world he has a theory about openness that has four main components; collaboration, transparency, sharing, and empowerment. I agreed with his point that an open Internet and, free or low-cost education is key to the decentralization of power, which really spoke to me. He gave examples of how open Internet is key to democracy because it basically holds people accountable, no matter who they might be. His positive outlook on life and the future is inspiring. Tapscott’s segment on collaboration is similar to what Seely described as a digital “ecosystem.”

George Siemens’ learning and knowing in networks: Siemens’ views on education most closely reflect my own. I strongly agree with Siemens’ assertion that global competitiveness and education are two keystones of advancing prosperity and quality of life. I agree that in order to teach younger generations you need to develop new ways to meet their learning needs. Educators should adopt tools and approaches to teaching and learning that reflect the experiences and communication habits of that age group. These tools might include blogs, wikis, social networking, podcasts, online video, and virtual worlds. Simply put, teaching methods in today’s classrooms are somewhat outdated. “Through the use of tools and technologies familiar to learners, educators may be able to foster higher levels of learner engagement required for effective learning.”

Siemens’ views most reflect my own because I’ve come to the conclusion that informal education and learning through making or playing is the most crucial to our development. I often think back on the experiment described in Siemen’s piece. Substance Mitra conducted an experiment in India in which he placed a computer with an Internet connection in a wall facing a ghetto. Within days children with no education taught themselves how to use the computer and browse the web. I strongly agree that children are curious enough that they do not require direct instruction to acquire basic computer literacy skills. Teachers interact with learners in a different manner because the Internet has caused a power shift. This is very important because learners now have access to any information, expert, or resource they could ever want on their smartphones. How is a teacher supposed to compete with Google? Instructors, due to the developing complexity of tools and availability of open education resources, play a role of directing learners to tools and resources. Social media and learning technologies have the capability of connecting learners from all over the world.


Lowenthal, P. R., & Dunlap, J. C. (2012, June 5). Intentional Web Presence: 10 SEO Strategies Every Academic Needs to Know. Retrieved April 23, 2018, from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2012/6/intentional-web-presence-10-seo-strategies-every-academic-needs-to-know

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