The Expanding Learning Horizons (ELH) Conference is over for another year and I am left, once again, feeling lost and flat now that I am back in the real world of work and daily minutiae. I miss the connection with like-minded educators and the stimulating conversations that accompany such connections. However, I am also mindful of the need for all of us to keep connecting outside the conference if we truly want to keep expanding our learning horizons.
Expanding and Learning are action words.
Maintaining an online personal learning network (PLN) is one of the most important professional development activities I undertake in any year. I can structure a learning path to suit my own context and needs without leaving home. I can connect with others who share similar contexts and really learn from them. It takes time but it also saves time. Imagine how long it would have taken me to find, research and review six quality educator blogs or wikis on my own without the help of my PLN? Using my connections on Plurk saved me hours.
Exploring and Sharing are ALSO action words
My PLN also supported my ELH Discovery workshop: Exploring Web 2.0 Teaching Ideas by providing feedback on the wiki I designed to support the session. Many also indicated their intention to share the wiki with colleagues in the U.S. Hopefully it will continue to be of use to educators for some time.
The networking during ELH took many forms: Twitter (See #ELH09 for our collection of Tweets); Ning; Facebook and various wikis: elhwikimania and my own Exploring Web 2.0 Teaching Ideas. However, such mediums are only starting points for exploration and expansion of learning horizons. It is ongoing connection and reflection, educators sharing ideas and learning together, that will make the most difference in the long term. Maintaining the passion, learning and enthusiasm of ELH will be the real challenge for all of us over the next year!