Personal learning network put to great advantage

Two teacher librarians from Mooroopna Secondary College (MSC) share their experiences of the Personal Learning Network (PLN) program, run by the State Library of Victoria (SLV) and the School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV).

Leonie Dyason's learning journey

The PLN gave me a safe and supported place to begin my exploration into Web 2.0 and a process to increase my contact with other educators. Blogging was to be my assessment tool, and posts every week covered the tools and resources to which we were introduced. We wrote about how the tools might be used to enrich student content through the course. I had always dabbled with reading other educators' websites and blogs and was finding lots of inspiration, but this was the first time I had actually published to the web - an unknown audience. Emails to my colleagues on good resources, and conducting eLearning PD formed my experience at MSC, but blogging had a different feel. I found it so rewarding that I encouraged the whole library team to undertake the next PLN program – which they did. Two of my library team have completed a second PLN because of new tools in the following program, and I have now learnt more from them. We currently have a couple of teachers undertaking the program and I look forward to the new developments they too can teach me.

The Web 2.0 tools I use give me control over the amount of information I want to read. Google Reader allows me to locate all my favourite sites in one place, and I can now sort and delete the posts by the tags I make up – just like cataloguing. Twitter allows me to ask/send to a community of educators an idea or link. I can now follow a conference or event through Twitter hash tags via TweetDeck, and keep up with the good ideas coming out of professional development happening anywhere in the world - I can even do this on my phone. Blogging allows me to organise my ideas and store handouts on a topic in one area - on a cloud somewhere - where it is always available to me.

So with all these out-sourced free tools doing my organising I then ventured into the creative Web 2.0 tools. Web 2.0 tools such as Wallwisher (good way to pre- and post-test students' knowledge) and Animoto (slides that make short movie clips) to enhance the products and assessments for students - are more fun than Word. I also encourage private class blogs or wikis at MSC to encourage student writing 24/7. I was surprised at the reluctance at first, especially from students, but now things are moving along. They now value their authentic audience.

Rachel Fidock's learning journey

The PLN is almost a rite of passage for Web 2.0 users in education. I was a 2010 participant and feel it was the most worthwhile 12 weeks of my professional life. I know this sounds over the top, but the networks I joined and the Web 2.0 tools I learnt to use and apply in an educational setting have stood me in good stead to date. It was surprising to me, but the most rewarding network that I created during the PLN program was within my own college. The course enabled me to make connections with various staff members from different key learning areas. We often talk about what Web 2.0 tools we are using or have come across. It is also valuable to know the experts in certain areas, such as Adrian Camm in gaming, and who to follow on Twitter. Furthermore, the mentoring provided during the 12-week program is priceless. Thanks to the PLN program, I am now the coordinator of Bright Ideas, a blog by the School Library Association of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria, something I would not have had the knowledge or confidence to undertake prior to the program.

How the tools are used

In the library

Since the PLN program, we have been able to apply many Web 2.0 tools to promote and support our website, MSC Library. This year, our year 7 library orientation had an overhaul, thanks to the 12-week program. We created a Google site for the orientation that was up on our interactive whiteboard, where a Glogster poster linked to MSC Library, our blog, MSC's Licorice Allsorts, and a YouTube video to help explain the Dewey decimal system (which was later tweeted about to share with other teacher librarians). On the Google site we had a page of Vokis asking students questions about the library and its services. The Vokis were a hit with both students and staff. During the orientation we also showed the library’s book trailers created with Animoto. The images, sounds, and ICT that many students are familiar with engaged them throughout the session. [NB: if this sounds like a foreign language, you will speak it once you have done the PLN program.]
We also created three author windows near the reading area using Web 2.0 word clouds originally from the sites Tagxedo and Wordle. We got a local firm to make the vinyl lettering of authors' names in the fiction area and now have great windows into the video room which everyone likes.

Team teaching

English teachers seeing Animoto were keen for students to use the video-creating tool to present their understanding of a text. They asked MSC’s library staff to come into their classrooms to show them and the students how to use this tool. A media teacher also saw the benefits of Animoto and asked the library staff to show his students how to use it to create a video on cybersafety. Any Animoto book trailer made by students, with permission, is uploaded onto our library blog.

Troubleshooting in classrooms

The knowledge gained during the 12-week program provides us with the confidence to help teachers and students troubleshoot issues they may be having with Web 2.0 tools. As well as going to classrooms, we help students with ICT problems in the library during class time and at lunchtime. It is great when a student nearby to our troubleshooting hears what we are doing and knows the answer.

Approaching, and being approached by, staff

The PLN gives you the confidence to approach staff members in the college to suggest Web 2.0 tools to use in their classrooms, and most staff now feel that they can come to us for advice and assistance.
For example, Rachel has:

  • suggested to an art teacher teaching a unit on impressionism that Google Earth would be a fantastic tool to 'take' students to Giverny in France to show them the gardens that inspired Monet
  • been approached by an English teacher wanting to use Google Earth to trek a character’s journey in a novel and present this to the class, but not knowing how to do it
  • suggested to an art teacher that Animoto would be a good way for students to present their knowledge of a topic through key words and images.


We are more confident, professional teacher librarians since undertaking the PLN program. It has provided us with the knowledge to continue our education in things Web 2.0, and the ability to network on various scales. It takes 12 weeks, but will stand you in good stead for the rest of your career.

Links to sites mentioned:

Bright Ideas
MSC Library
MSC Licorice Allsorts

Leonie Dyason


Teacher librarian, Innovations and Next Practice LT
Mooroopna Secondary College

Rachel Fidock


Teacher librarian
Mooroopna Secondary College