PLNs: Learning in Global Communities

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Community is a word I love. I am the kind of person who thrives on coffee and good conversation about the deep and meaningful things of life. Community is in the title of this blog. The only post I wrote that had nothing to do with COETAIL is also entitled Community 

However, a Personal Learning Community has been a totally new experience for me. Before I started this journey, my opportunities for professional development were limited to whatever interactions I had with colleagues who happened to be in close proximity to my classroom. I am thankful that this course has pushed me beyond the walls of my own classroom and into the virtual world where I have been able to discover things I would have never known before and where my ideas could also be heard.

Here are some of the ways that I interacted with my PLN from my small patch here in Hanoi, Vietnam.


I started my twitter account when I knew I would need it for COETAIL. I had heard of twitter but I had no idea of it’s power and potential for professional development. Now I would say this is my number one favorite way of staying connected, following educators that I love and developing my craft.

Through Twitter, I connected with others in COETAIL and some of my favorite educators like @JoyKirr and @ajjuliani and @spencerideas. They have huge followings and thanks to them I was able to share out my ideas to a larger audience.

Twitter helped me begin communicating with others who were interested in collaborating on our toy design challenge. I met Tyson at the Vietnam Ed Tech Conference in HCMC last Spring and since we follow each other on Twitter, it was easy to begin discussions.

Hanoi Ed Tech Group and Vietnam Tech Conference

The monthly Hanoi Ed Tech meetings have been another place for me to build my PLN. Each month educators from schools in Hanoi meet up and share ideas for redefining learning with technology. I was able to share my project at one of my monthly meetings and get input from other members.

My favorite educators to follow in this group are @teachertechpaul and @michellelmatias. They were both a huge source of encouragement along the way. Michelle gave me the idea to use Padlet as a tool for global collaboration. We usually meet in job-alike sessions for part of our time together and that is where I met Adam.. He always seems to have a great idea for me to try. Fellow COETAILer Sitwath Khan was also a part of this group until she recently moved. I was glad to have someone in the COETAIL trenches with me each month.

Every year, I attend the Vietnam Tech Conference. Last year I met My Nguyen who is the Maker Academy Coordinator for Orphan Impact. We have begun discussions about her work and my interest in learning more. 

Google + Communities

This was one way I tried to connect that didn’t really gain any traction but I might try and use it again in the future.

The Concordia Community

I don’t want to neglect the great community that exists within the walls of my school. I am fortunate to work with other passionate teachers. Our grade 3-5 team has been a great source of inspiration as we work on our Makerspace. This was a place where I could share ideas about helping our students develop a design thinking mindset. My principle, Kristin Kappelmann, our former director of technology David Elliot  and of course my 3rd grade partner teacher, Anne Stuart Gunay have all shared their expertise and helped me grow.

And last, I don’t want to neglect to mention the awesome Alexis Snider, who, in spite of her crazy busy life of being a mom of three small girls, comes to work full of new ideas and excitement. It is great to work just two doors down from a fellow COETAILer. While there is great benefit to being connected all around the globe, there is something special about having that synergy that comes from being face to face.

I look forward to continuing to grow my PLN and encouraging others to do the same.