I love looking at visual representations of information, and I believe I learn best when abstract and complicated topics are displayed in a visual format. Ironically, I have little ability to design visually appealing graphics. Designing anything is tough, but if you want me to display abstract ideas in ways that convey information clearly….watch out. I have the hardest time coming up with an idea. I ask my self questions and post a variety of visual analogies. When none of them seem to work, I do what I tell my students. “Just try something. Once you have something, you can make it awesome.” I found that following my own advice was the only way to get this assignment to move from endless possibilities swimming in my mind to something visual. I tried several tools, some of which I am familiar with, and others I am not. I finally decided to use LucidChart. It was not nearly as easy to manipulate as I expected, but l know that powerful learning comes from persistent struggles. And it was through the struggle that I learned to use a tool I have never used before.
The tool itself was one aspect of learning, but more importantly, I realized how interconnected my PLN learning experiences are. With each group, I share, learn, collaborate, and organize- all of which allow me to be a better educator. Some of my PLN resources and groups are better for served for some purposes than others, but in reality they all help me grow as an educator. What I might learn in one learning community might be transferred to another learning group or curated in another. What I decide to curate in one learning community might be shared in another group. The overlapping ideas shown in the Venn Diagram are intended to show the interconnections of each learning group I associate with. No one group is too far from another.
After reviewing a number of classmates’ diagrams, I realized that I could benefit from a graphic design course. But all joking aside, I realized that many of us shared of the same ideas about our PLNs and the manner in which they connect. The ways in which we show those relationships differ, but it is certainly clear to me that we all recognize that each PLN group serves its purpose in relations to the other groups we learn from and share with.
Many of my classmates opted to label their diagrams much like I did. Some tools and groups are used for very specific purposes (i.e. connecting, curating, etc.) while other communities serve several of these purposes at once. One diagram in particular caught my attention. Megan Gooding’s diagram showed the cyclical nature of these learning communities with a simple circle of arrows in the middle of all of her learning communities. That is exactly what I was trying to capture with my Venn Diagram!
Through the process of the creating this diagram, I realized that my PLN is much wider than I realized. I am connected to many communities, each of which provides me with tools, resources, and a platform to share that allow me to grow as an educational leader. I am just now realizing how much of a powerful influence my PLN has been on my development as a teacher.