This is a post about how important it is for teachers to create their own PLN (personal learning network), and how it might help their students connect!

In 2009 I was fortunate to be able to travel to Brazil and participate in the Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Education Forum. My school was chosen as the only Pathfinder school representing Norway. During this event I met educators from all over the world.

The most inspiring teacher I got to know was Moliehi Sekese from Lesotho, a small African nation completely landlocked by the Republic of South Africa. Thanks to Facebook she and I managed to keep in touch, and we could hardly wait to see each other again at another Microsoft event in South Africa the following year.

Keeping in touch is not easy when the only internet option you have in Lesotho is a distant internet café. Moliehi has an amazing story to tell — about how one teacher with determination and an innovative mind could win a technology competition representing a school with 800 students, two computers and no electricity. With financial help from a school in Stockholm, Sweden that I connected with during the South African Forum I was able to invite her to visit schools in both Norway and Sweden.

This Easter she came and stayed with me and my family for a week. We were so fortunate to have her talk to students in both schools, and she also participated at a conference in Bergen Moliehi has a wonderful ability to reach out to teachers and young people alike, with a clear message. As one student wrote:. Listening to her presentation made us realize how lucky we are here in Norway. We have food, clean drinking water, clothes, textbooks, and computers. (Marie) After the conference the organizers donated three laptops Moliehi was able to take home to her school.

Since my students all have their own blogs and are used to writing and sharing their work with others, the task of writing about Moliehi’s story and visit was easy for them. It is so powerful to read the students’ blogs! They are personal and heartfelt, and I would love to share all of them with you. Some of their comments with links to their writings can be found here. They have written factual texts, poems and interviews.

The value of writing blogs in class became so apparent when we were able to read Moliehi’s own comments about my students’ writing! I end this post by quoting her and leaving some links on how to start building your own personal network. This encounter would not have been possible without my ability to connect through Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Blogs.  All these social media tools combined give you the power to create learning networks on a global scale. And the benefits are not yours alone. Your students will soon learn to appreciate how open the world has become!

[May 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm]
I’m really overwhelmed with your report. It shows clearly that you were listening attentively to what I was saying. With the use of technology like this blogging it shows clearly that the world can become one village where everyone is learning from one another. Keep up the good work and I hope one day we will be able to collaborate on different issues.

(Twitter comment from conference: Moliehi Sekese var invitert som del av supernettverksbygger Ann S Michaelsens globale kontaktnett) Translated: Moliehi Sekese was invited as part of super network builder Ann S Michaelsen’s global contact network!


Social networking in plain English

Blogs in plain English

The Educators PLN

Sue Waters’ PLN Yourself! wiki

My students interviewed Moliehi and filmed her when she was giving presentations at our school. See it here!

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Ann Michaelsen

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