Learning to create, manage and promote a professional learning network (PLN) will soon become, if it’s not already, one of the most necessary and sought after skills for a global citizen, and as such, must become a prominent feature of any school curriculum.
Few progressive educationalists would argue that a personal learning network (PLN) is not incredibly valuable and important. Passionate advocates including Murray, Whitby, and Sheninger lead with clarity in such discussions. The wealth of professional development that stems from such a network is quickly defining it as an essential tool for teachers, and will, I believe, replace organised costly professional development undertaken by organisations.
However presently, few discussions and promotions of PLN’s venture further than lauding specific benefits for teachers. But why just teachers, and not students? Could students benefit from a network of learners? Considering the importance of exams in determining futures, it seems that professional development for students not only has unbounded potential, but must be taught as a matter of urgency.
Establishing a PLN seems simple enough on the surface, but to do it successfully and optimize its potential contains within in it a challenging and vigorous set of learning opportunities. Curating, managing, and promoting a PLN develops critical, creative, 21st century, and an increasingly important set of socio-emotional capabilities. Integration into modern curriculums would be seamless. Of course the best way to teach is to show, not tell, so here is a list, but by no means a definitive list, of the skills that are learned:
What does it mean to be a good leader or a better leader or a best leader? Some of these steps might just get you to reach your best leadership. (When we invest in people, we are investing in our leadership.
Recent trends show that people increasingly value material goods over relationships—but neuroscience and evolution say this goes against our nature.
Lieberman’s new book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect hits the shelves this month. It’s a book about relationships and why relationships are a central—though increasingly absent—part of a flourishing life. Lieberman draws on psychology and neuroscience research to confirm what Aristotle asserted long ago in his Politics: “Man is by nature a social animal … Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.”
Read Montague is interested in the human dopamine system — or, as he puts it in this illuminating talk from TEDGlobal 2012, that which makes us “chase sex, food and salt” and therefore survive.
Specifically, Montague and his team at the Roanoke Brain Study are interested in how dopamine and valuation systems work when two human beings interact with each other. Twenty years ago, studying a topic like this was all but impossible because scientists relied on worms and rodents for insight into the brain. But today, in addition to animal research, neurobiologists have at their disposal functional MRI (fMRI), which allows them to make “microscopic blood flow movies” and map the activity of human brains in action.
“We have a behavioral superpower in our brain and it at least in part involves dopamine,” says Montague in this talk. “We can deny any instinct we have for survival for an idea. No other species can do that.”
So how do we assign value to ideas, process the gestures of those around us, make complicated decisions, and create informed judgments about each other? Montague’s lab hopes to discover much more about how these processes work by “eavesdropping” on the brains of 5,000 to 6,000 participants all over the world as they play negotiation games. It’s fascinating research that could tell us more about our social nature. Because as Montague says, “You often don’t know who you are until you see yourself in interaction with people who are close to you, people who are enemies to you, and people who are agnostic to you.”
To hear much more about Montague’s work, watch this talk. Below, hear insights from 12 others who are working hard to give a clearer picture of how our brains work.
Socrates, this ancient philosopher holds the key to an essential leadership skill: asking great questions. The challenge is that too few leaders, managers and employees ask great questions. This is a big problem. Cultures that embrace a culture of questioning thrive and those that fear it either fail or are doomed to mediocrity.