Sometimes it’s the unexpected learning that surprises and captures us. For many teachers in the PLP Victoria, Australian community, the journey through PLPConnectU and their project-based learning showed them how powerful collaboration can be.

The teams will be attending their culminating on November 29. Led by Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Alan Levine, known as CogDog to many of us, the #plpconnectu teams will present their final work and hear from Alan about story-telling. The groups have been collaborating on a range of topics from creativity to digital literacies, and they are excited to meet face-to-face once again after working primarily together online for many months.

“For me, having the courage to communicate via Elluminate and Skype, where we got to see and hear each other was a little more daunting but very rewarding, and I have built some great professional relationships through the project,” said Delia Jenkins, a member of the Environment group who organized a “flash mob” for the students.

Though many teachers were connected through Twitter or their blogs, for others this was the first time for collaboration with teachers from outside their schools. Using tools to connect, the teams planned and carried out their projects and shared their reflections on their own blogs as well as the Australian Global2 blogging platform.

“This has made me realize how powerful a network can be to draw on knowledge, reflect on my learning and other’s learning, pose questions and have discussions with depth and passion.  I have made connections and friends, which I know I can draw on in a time of need,” said Mel Cashen from the Creativity group. “I loved how everyone was on the same journey of learning, and it was certainly powerful to be able to discuss what we were learning with our team, other PLPeeps, coaches and experts.”

Though PLP is not about tools, having a chance to use the tools together was a great plus. “The sharing of professional knowledge and experiences and the support from each other was definitely a major plus for me. To actually be able to put into use – in a meaningful way – many web2.0 tools that I had heard about,” Delia said.

Several of the groups were able to tie their learning to the standards of learning. The Animals group, for example, created a presentation, explaining how the curriculum standards fit into their project. And the New Literacies group tackled how reading and writing can be improved through blogging. Their project teaser shows how excited the students were to get started!

For me, the chance to meet and learn with such talented, hardworking folks has been a joy. I have enjoyed our Google Plus and Elluminate chats (even if they were in the middle of the night!) Laughing at their jokes as well as watching them work through deep learning in this collaborative process has paved the way for strong friendships.

Kynan Robinson, a member of the Creativity team, captures the experience well: “The process of learning in the PLP project was a exciting, stimulating, confronting and messy one – much like it is in the rest of life. The greatest part for me was the opportunity to connect with so many inspired educators around the world, which gave me a real opportunity to debate ideas and think deeply about how I teach, why I teach as well as new learning theories. Absolutely fantastic.”

Keep an eye out for the artifacts from this community. Groups were formed by passion, a new approach for a PLP community. The groups worked together to create some incredible projects, and they will be sharing soon.

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Susan Carter Morgan

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