Online Professional Learning- Virtually There?

May 12, 2012

I first met Peita late last year at a North/West Sydney REsearch Group Cocktail Party. It was an inspiring night listening to Alma Fleet as she reflected on her visit to the Preschools and Centres of Reggio Emilia, and the way this experience impacted her teaching. We had the opportunity to look at the incredible K-2 Learning Space in the school that hosted the event and to meet other like-minded educators. I stayed in touch with Peita, sharing my reflections and feedback from the night via email. I love to engage in dialogue with other professionals about the things that inspire our teaching and our philosophies around learning. This year I have been able to meet with Peita face to face, over email and now that we have established out Twitter hashtag  #nwsreggio we frequently share ideas through links on Twitter as well. I asked her if she would mind reflecting on that experience here. I also recommend the blog

Co- convening a professional learning network has its rewards and challenges. Developing opportunities for educators to learn together inspires dialogue and collaboration, sharing ideas across educational settings, ages and demographics. It is always rewarding to hear of experiences in the classroom that have been inspired by a conversation, speaker or question from one of our network meetings.

As a network we face several dilemmas. We are geographically large and our membership numbers have grown significantly over the past few years. Of course, the value we place on collaboration allows for a diverse range of views across the network; however we have found that the more the network grew, the more difficult it became for individual questions, projects and conversations to be shared.  The date and time of the meetings were also difficult to organise as the more members we had, the more commitments we need to schedule around, resulting in interested members being unable to attend.

Over several months the other convenor and I met to discuss how we can possibly meet the needs of the network as a whole, as well as individual members?   We decided to explore the possibility of online participation, allowing members to pose setting specific questions, reaching out to other network members for answers and ideas.

We began with a Twitter account, incorporating the hash tag #nwsreggio into our tweets to share readings, provocations and inspiring stories. We were able to share member responses to the recent Reggio Emilia Study Tour, and Karin Eskesen’s visit from Denmark.

We have also created a blog, hoping to share stories from teaching and the classroom with other like-minded educators. At this stage we are the only contributors, however it is being mentioned in Tweets by others. We are hoping that after our next face to face meeting more members will feel comfortable contributing, and sharing their own stories and responses to provocations.

Our first blog post was entitled “From little things, big things grow” and we hope that we have planted the seed for meaningful collaboration across and beyond our network without the restriction of time and distance.

Peita van Bussel



  1. I enjoyed reading about Pieta’s experience with her NSW Reggio network and how social media can facilitate communication even within a group that meets in person. We have a professional network here in Singapore – the International School Libraries Network. Our wiki is our official site, silcsing.wikispaces.com, and we have moved to a blog for news and announcements silcsing.blogspot.com. We also have a google group for easy email communication. As Pieta points out, social media and web 2.0 tools allow us to communicate with each other and with those outside our group without the restriction of time and place.

  2. Thanks Linda,

    It is nice to hear from someone who has found a blog a useful way of connecting with members. NWSydney Reggio are hoping to find similar success over the next few months.


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