Is inspiration just a tweet away?

Transcript of interview with Madonna King and Dr Kay Oddone.

Introduction: At QUT we believe that teachers do more than build understanding. They build confidence, resilience, they help students to make sense of the real world and the faster technology changes, the more important teachers become. If you feel the same way, this podcast is for you. Welcome to PodClass.

[Children laughing and a school bell rings]

Every step that you take forward you’re actually changing a child’s life, you are taking people with you.

This idea of the silent classroom is also a little bit of a myth and could be getting in the way.

They have very little time to just take a breath, sit down and think. Where do I want to go, what do I want to do with my career?

It's amazing how many fresh ideas you can have when you can ask your question of the entire world.

I have given it all I have got, I am exhausted and I need a break. I think that is part of it.

Sometimes when first year, we think goodness how are we going to make a teacher out of you? But then you see them in fourth year and you think gosh they are better than I am. [Multiple voices laugh]

Madonna: Hello, and welcome to QUT Podclass, where it’s all about teachers and teaching. My name is Madonna King, and remember, show notes are available with this podcast, just in case you don’t have a pen and paper handy. Today, let me welcome Kay Oddone, who teaches students, I guess, how to really milk their professional connections, but as you will hear, this concept of professional or personal learning networks is an invaluable resource for teachers, and indeed, all of us. Kay, hello.

Kay: Hello, how are you?

Madonna: Well, thank you. Now, we’re talking about connected learning, or as I said, professional learning networks or PLNs. What does that even mean?

Kay: [laughs] It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is.

Madonna: Well, it sounds a bit like a themed party or something.

Kay: Yeah [laughs]. Well, someone said to me once, it’s a bit like a cocktail party. It’s [laughs] about connecting with other people, it’s about sharing ideas and getting great ideas back, it’s about making new connections, but using social networking tools to do that.

Madonna: So teaching is a really collaborative profession.  Wouldn’t most teachers already be part of a PLN?

Kay: Absolutely. They definitely would.

Madonna: Would they know it as that, or would they just-

Kay: No.

Madonna: They’d think of it as a support network.

Kay: Yes, and probably also, a lot of teachers are involved in networks that are face-to-face networks and that are associated with their school or a local cluster of schools, but they may not be necessarily connecting with people beyond their geographic area.

Madonna: So do you believe a PLN can’t be person to person, it needs to have the social media?

Kay: It can definitely be person to person. It’s just that it can be enhanced and expanded because we have this capacity to connect using social media.

Madonna: So why should a teacher think about establishing or enhancing it? What do they get out of it?

Kay: It basically allows a teacher to take all of those benefits of connecting with other teachers and with other professionals, but to expand that far beyond their own classroom and their own school.

Madonna: Give me an example.

Kay: So, for example, if you’re a teacher who is really passionate about problem-based learning, and you’ve already connected with a couple of other teachers in your school who are interested in that type of pedagogy, but you’re looking for new ideas, some fresh things to do, some fresh ways to go about presenting things to your students, you can jump online, and if you’ve got a series of connections created, you’ve got people that you can ask and people that you can seek information from, beyond those people that you already know.

Madonna: How long does it take to actually create a PLN?

Kay: It’s something that takes a little bit of time because it’s, like any sort of network, you don’t just say, “I’m going to make a network”, and that afternoon, you’ve got a fully-fledged professional network, even if it’s face to face. So it does take time, but you can start in, you know, in the one afternoon and start making connections, and then over time build that as you need and as you want.

Madonna: I spoke to some teachers and asked them about theirs, and they didn’t know what I was talking about. So is it something fairly new?

Kay: It is something – it is new.  I think it’s if you’re interacting online, you will have heard of it, or you will have seen it being bandied around, but if you’re not using social media in that way, then you probably haven’t heard of it before.

Madonna: And in a moment, we’ll go to how someone actually sets one up themselves, but what type of interest areas do they canvass?

Kay: Anything. That’s the thing about – because you can connect with any expert or any individual anywhere in the world, it can be any interest area, no matter how obscure.

Madonna: What about your own experience? Has it connected you or helped you by meeting someone overseas, or...

Kay: Absolutely. So I have been – I’ve newly finished my PhD, and I’ve been blogging throughout my PhD, just putting posts up about what I’m thinking about at the time, theories that I’m wrestling with, things like that. I wrote a post, and one morning when I woke up, there was a comment on the blog, saying, “Hi, I’m trying to introduce some of these ideas into my own university with my own students, and I am in Lulea in Sweden. You’ve probably not heard of it. We’re up in the Arctic Circle”, and I was like, wow, okay. So I continued to converse with Oscar, and he invited me over to his university in Sweden, and I went over and spent a week with him, working with he and his team.

Madonna: How fabulous.

Kay: It was so exciting [laughs].

Madonna: So what about a teacher who is teaching The Outsiders, you know, a book for year 9, and they’ve done it for years. How might having a professional learning network help them?

Kay: There are a lot of discussions going on online about new and interesting ways to present or to create book reports, to have – to move beyond the idea of a book report and to really get into connecting with other people who’ve read the book, other people who’ve been touched by the book. There’s so many different ways that you can approach even a story that seems to have been done over and over so many times.

Madonna: So in practical terms, if I was that teacher, could I get on to my professional learning network and say, “I’ve been teaching this book for seven years. I don’t have a new idea. Have you got one?”, go to bed, and the next morning wake up and there’s three or four ideas there?

Kay: Ideally, yes. Ideally, there’d either be personalised responses, saying, “I taught that book too, and this is what I did”, or maybe you could go #youngadultfiction, #outsiders …

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: ... and search through, and people might have taken photographs of what they’ve done. One lady just recently shared this idea of how she gets her students to present their book reports using Google Docs and interactive videos, and she had actually written out a step-by-step guide as to how she does that and shared that as well as the end product.

Madonna: Wow.  So are they sharing it with other teachers, or beyond teachers to anyone with an interest in that area?

Kay: Well, beyond, anyone with an interest in that area is obviously able to access it because it’s publicly shared.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Which is the beauty because you’re able to share your work beyond the regular circles, but also, you’re able to access people beyond the regular circles.

Madonna: I could have a PLN on photography, for example, because that was an interest area of mine.

Kay: Yes, definitely.

Madonna: So it’s not just teachers, either. It’s anyone who could do something, but you could see how invaluable it is for teachers.

Kay: Yes.

Madonna: And this comes from research because this is what you’re doing your…

Kay: Yes. My thesis explored how teachers are using their personal learning networks to enhance their professional learning, and I spoke with a range of different teachers, all of – from all different walks of and different stages of their teaching career. So one was a technology integrator who had been teaching for six years, one was a classroom teacher who’d been teaching for 22 years, one was a teacher-librarian who’d been teaching for 41 years.

Madonna: Wow.

Kay: And they were all at different types of schools, primary, secondary, so yeah.

Madonna: And what was the takeout from your PhD?

Kay: Learning can be whatever you make it because you can connect with and create with anyone you like because of the connections that you can make.

Madonna: Would a teacher with a PLN … And sometimes we call it a professional learning network and sometimes a personal learning network, right?

Kay: They’re the same thing. I prefer personal learning network because it’s your learning network.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: It’s your personal, but you use it for professional learning, hence the term professional learning network.

Madonna: And do you think a teacher who had an established and good PLN would provide better classes?

Kay: I don’t think you could necessarily say that, but they may feel more prepared or perhaps have creative and innovative ideas because they’ve had a richer source to draw upon.

Madonna: It would be easier, their job.

Kay: Yes, I think so.

Madonna: How many people are in your PLN?

Kay: I can’t put a number on that because it’s scattered across many different social spaces.

Madonna: All right. So let’s break that down.

Kay: Yeah.

Madonna: What kind of social spaces?

Kay: So, Twitter is the most popular space that people tend to nominate when they talk about a PLN because it’s a space that you can connect directly with other professionals and share professional information, and it’s quite easy to keep professional.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: It’s less likely to bleed into your personal life and things like that.  Facebook is also becoming more and more popular for people’s professional or personal learning networks, and I would use both of these in conjunction with each other because they have access to different types of people and access to different types of resources.

Madonna: May you also use Snapchat or Instagram or …

Kay: Yes. All of those. Pinterest is great for creating.

Madonna: LinkedIn.

Kay: LinkedIn is like your – the professional link to your CV, perhaps.

Madonna: So this isn’t my social media profile. I might have one that is Madonna King on Twitter and Madonna King ... which is work;  Madonna King on Facebook, which is pictures of my children and the likes, but if I was a year 9 teacher, I might have one on year 9 or on English, and so I then link up with people of a similar interest on Twitter, on Facebook, and so the common thing is not necessarily me, it’s the interest.

Kay: It’s the interest, and it is you in the fact that it’s your connections, the connections that you’ve made.

Madonna: But I’d keep my children on my separate Facebook.

Kay: Yes.

Madonna: And this one for my PLN.

Kay: Yes. Everyone has to make their own decision about how much they want their different contexts to bleed into each other.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: But for your professional PLN, it is probably more effective and more appropriate to keep those private things private.

Madonna: Someone hasn’t heard much of this before today, and they want to go home and make a PLN.  Where do they start?  What’s the three or four steps they need to do?

Kay: The first thing I would suggest is to sit down and have a real think about why you want a PLN and what you want to get out of it. So the areas of professional interest that you have, where, perhaps, you want to expand or enhance your skills. Maybe you want a PLN because you want to really enhance or enrich the way you teach, or maybe you want a PLN because you want to connect with other teachers who can provide a support network for you.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: And it can be both of those things, but it’s important to have a big-picture idea about what you want out of it. So that would be the first step, before I touch any technology. The second step would probably be to choose a tool, and I would suggest Twitter for a first start, and to create an account and just have a look and see what people are sharing in your areas of interest. So if your area of interest was, for example, inquiry learning, hashtag inquiry learning and see what comes up, see the types of people that are sharing and what they’re sharing, see the types of resources that are being shared, and if that’s going to be of use to you and meet your goal.

Madonna: And that interest area could be anything from #playspaces to #books to #geography.

Kay: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it could be narrow, it could be #gymnasticsforwardrolls [laughs].

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Or it could be something quite broad, like #childrensliterature

Madonna: And the hashtag is important because that draws in interest from other people.

Kay: Yes. That is like the key word that draws everything together, and you can use a hashtag to search across Facebook, to search across Instagram.

Madonna: And send friend requests.

Kay: And then once you’ve worked out, yes, who is sharing resources that you think align with your goals and your interests, you can then make a connection with them.

Madonna: And you need to share, so do you need to be able to write a blog? Do you need your own website, for example?

Kay: It is really great to have a space of your own online, something that you have control over, like a blog or a website, because when you have your PLN completely consisting of spaces provided by other organisations, for example, LinkedIn, then you don’t necessarily own all of your information in the same way as what you do when it’s your own blog. So I always suggest creating a space, like a blog or a website, that acts as your hub, where you can upload and share things that you want to distribute but that you maintain ownership over, and then you link out to those other applications.

Madonna: Is it important to participate? Like, I know I hate people who are friends on Facebook or never … It’s like they’re just watching you.

Kay: Yes, absolutely. Participation is a really important part, but it’s important that you don’t feel pressured to start participating on day 1.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: You don’t have to do that on day 1, but it has to come as part of the development of your learning network.

Madonna: Well, it’s day 30, and I want to start that blog. How do you set up a blog?

Kay: It’s a series of steps that I’ve written about several times, but the main thing is, again, you think about who your audience is and what type of content you want to share, and what the purpose of your blog is.

Madonna: And we’ll make sure we put your steps to setting up a blog in our explanation notes.

Kay: Yes, absolutely.

Madonna: Does it have to be multi-modal, or could it just be a single social media avenue?

Kay: It can be a single social media avenue, for example, Twitter, but for the best outcomes, it’s better to have several different spaces because then you get wider exposure to different groups of people and to different types of resources.

Madonna: So how do you ensure that your private life doesn’t get eaten up in this, that the strangers with a similar interest to you have access to photos of your children, for example?

Kay: Facebook’s particularly tricky because it is quite difficult to keep those contexts from bleeding into each other, and that’s why, perhaps, if you’re less confident or more concerned, then it’s probably better, at the beginning, to leave Facebook to one side and use that only for personal or only for professional -

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: ... and not to try and have both of them happening at once, but that’s the thing about developing a PLN, is that firstly, it is quite strategic and quite considered, and it’s something that you do in a very mindful and thoughtful way, and the second thing is that in developing your PLN, you start to develop or you build on your digital literacies.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: And as your digital literacies grow, you become more capable and confident in managing your social network identities, in managing your privacy, and to me, those capacities are really important, not just for teachers, for everyone, but for teachers to have so that they can model that and share that with their students.

Madonna: Now, in the notes to this podcast, you’ve provided a practical guide to setting up a PLN.

Kay: [laughs] Yes. Yes. Everyone’s PLN is personal and unique to them, absolutely, but the processes to go about setting one up or establishing and maintaining connections have similar themes and similar strategies.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Yeah.

Madonna: So strategy’s important here, though, as you just said. What type of questions might you ask yourself in setting up a PLN?

Kay: What your learning goals and what you want your social network identity to be are very important.  How you want people to see you as a professional, and how you would like for them to interpret the work that you’re sharing.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: So that it’s very much about being authentic, but being authentic in a very mindful and considered way.

Madonna: And is a particular social medial avenue better than another? For example, LinkedIn is great for business studies, and Twitter is good for art.

Kay: Definitely, in you’re in visual arts, or if you’re in something that’s very visual, then obviously, using Instagram, DeviantArt, there’s a lot of quite visual … You might consider Tumblr. Things that are quite visual -

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: If you’re in theatre arts or something like that. Theatre arts, you might create videos and share them on Vimeo or YouTube, whereas if you’re in economics, you’re more likely to probably focus on Twitter and more text-based, and saving your resources on Diego, which is more tech-space, than on Pinterest.

Madonna: How long do you reckon before it becomes valuable? Could you have new ideas in your classroom within three days?

Kay: Theoretically, you could. If you spend a little bit of time on one of these platforms, searching in areas of interest, I guarantee there’ll be something out there that’s useful for you and that you haven’t thought of before. The actual interactions and the participation and the sense of being part of a network …

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: ... would take longer to develop, as you would expect in any sort of face-to-face network or community.

Madonna: You said most teachers would have a PLN, although they may not call it that.  It may not be as complex as this.  What percentages of teachers do you think would have an online one like you’ve described?

Kay: I can’t give you a figure in the fact that might research didn’t cover that area at all, and in fact, I’m not sure that there is any research that shows that, but my guess would be, and I’ve discussed this with my colleagues, between maybe 10 and 15 percent.

Madonna: So this is something that could really help teachers.

Kay: I personally believe so, yes.

Madonna: But couldn’t it also help students? Should students in high schools … should teachers be encouraging students to have their own PLN of interest areas?

Kay: It definitely can help them, not only with their research and with their own learning. It can help them start developing a positive digital footprint so that when employers go looking online, as we know they do, they actually see evidence of what the student has been learning about or what they’re good at, what they’re sharing. It builds a level of digital literacy, and I think that is really important for any…no matter what the student’s interested in because it allows the student to recognise that it’s important to consider what is being shared and how it’s being shared and where it’s being shared, and to take a step back and cultivate the identity that they want to promote.

Madonna: Have you got an example of how a student might have used it?

Kay: I know that I’ve spoken with teachers who have found using social connections to be really useful when students are researching. So, for example, one of the students was researching about whales and culling of whales, and the teacher suggested that he have a look on Twitter and see if Sea Shepherd was involved.

Madonna: Yes, the Greenpeace boat.

Kay: And he actually managed to get in touch with a fellow that was on Sea Shepherd and was Tweeting back and forth with him, getting firsthand information.

Madonna: Wow. It adds a primary source to an assignment, doesn’t it?

Kay: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah.

Madonna: And that’s an example of how a student could use it.

Kay: Yes.

Madonna: Or, indeed, a teacher, by having the pilot of that …

Kay: Yes.

Madonna: … or the captain of that actually speak to the class.

Kay: And the thing is that you can’t just cold-call people necessarily and ask them to do that, but if you’ve taken a little bit of time and built up connections with different people.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Then when this sort of situation arises, you think, hey, I know he’s been on Twitter for a little while now, and I’m going to yell out and see if he can help me. Yeah.

Madonna: Your students at QUT in connected learning classes, what do they most struggle with in this?

Kay: They struggle with believing in themselves and having confidence in sharing and giving their own opinions or sharing their own resources, and it’s not because they don’t want to share them, but because they feel as though it’s not good enough, or …

Madonna: Yes, that no one will want to read or listen.

Kay: No one will want to read it, that other people are sharing things that are so much better than theirs.

Madonna: We’ve talked about the professional help it can give teachers or students; you’ve painted the PLN also as a very positive experience. Is it personally as well as professionally?

Kay: You can make some really great friends and have some really positive experiences personally, especially because when you’ve spent a little bit of time developing connections, if you’ve had the opportunity, then as lots of my research participants spoke about, to meet those people then in person at a conference or something like that.  You then have that sense of connection where, when you have a bad day, you feel like you can say, “Hey, I need a boost” [laughs] “I’m really tired”.

Madonna: Sounds a bit like Tinder for teachers.

Kay: [laughs] No. Not quite.

[both laughng]

Madonna: In your research, did you look at how someone who might have been teaching for, say,40 years or something might adapt to this and how challenging that might be to someone who isn’t someone who isn’t really digitally literate?

Kay: Yes. I think when you’ve been teaching for a long time, the thing that one of my research participants spoke about was how she felt that a lot of the professional learning on offer was aimed at teachers that were a lot younger or less experienced than her.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Because we all know that things come around in cycles, and she felt a lot of the time that she’d already hear this stuff before.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: But when she started connecting through her PLN, she started realising that there were other areas of professional interest to her that she could pursue using those avenues, and that she wasn’t as tied down to engaging only with professional learning that had been prescribed to her staff.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: That she could create her own professional learning that suited her at her point of her career.

Madonna: And someone like that, how much can they offer other people for their PLNs?

Kay: Personally, having the opportunity to mentor and to offer advice is, I feel, a great opportunity for them, and also, it’s really rewarding when people come back and say to you, “Hey, I shared that resource, and everyone loved it”, or, “I tried this in the classroom, and it worked so well”. It’s really rewarding.

Madonna: And have you got examples of that?

Kay: I know that when … one teacher I was speaking with said that he felt like he was constantly pushing the boundaries in his school and wanted to try new or innovative things, and because of the community that he was in, he wasn’t feeling very supported, and he felt that perhaps he was in the wrong profession, even.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: But he started to share his ideas and his strategies online, and because that’s a much wider audience …

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: … it wasn’t about the fact that the people in his school were wrong or anything like that.  It was just that it was such a narrow population, there just didn’t happen to be anyone there that aligned with his thinking.

Madonna: But he got support from others.

Kay: But he got support from others outside of that, and that really gave him a boost. He said, “I was starting to feel like a turtle, and my head was drawing back and back into my shell, but then when I started sharing online, I actually was like, oh, and starting poking my head out a lot more because I was realising that there really were other people out there that thought like me."

Madonna: Like me.

Kay: [laughs]

Madonna: Do you need to be digitally literate, or how hard is that? Is it easy for someone listening to think, look, that’s for the young ones, I can’t do that.

Kay: I don’t think you need to be … I think that it’s a great opportunity to develop your digital literacies. I don’t think you need to have any particular technical skills that are beyond the regular person. Most people already use Facebook. Many people use Pinterest to save pictures or recipes, and I know I save lots and lots of recipes on Pinterest. Many people are interacting a lot online and not realising that they actually have the skills already that are transferrable to this professional setting.

Madonna: Are there some subjects you’ve got to stay away from, you wouldn’t set up a PLN on?

Kay: I would definitely craft my PLN differently and strategically if I was working in an area that was perhaps controversial or that perhaps people had really strong personal opinions about.

Madonna: Like politics or religion.

Kay: Like politics or religion.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Because it is really difficult in those situations to separate the personal from the professional.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: And even if you as an individual can do that, not everyone out there wants to or can. So I definitely feel that there are areas that are less easy to blend.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: However, if we’re speaking about educators, all educators, no matter what the topic or no matter what the area, need to practice great pedagogy, need to engage positively with students. There’s a lot of more general areas of teaching without actually speaking about a particular subject area.

Madonna: Yes. Okay. What about how careful does a teacher need to be that they don’t breach privacy on their blog, like getting on and saying, “This one student said to me”, blah, blah, blah, and then finding themselves in trouble?

Kay: Yeah. A teacher definitely, and everyone, every individual definitely needs to be aware of privacy, of copyright, of the legal and ethical implications of interacting online. It’s important, I believe, that teachers are aware of that already, regardless of whether they’re personally doing it or not.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Because they should be able to explain and model that with their students, and so if you are thinking about starting to share publicly and you’re not sure about those things, it would be part of your planning and preparation to bone up on those things, and it’s not too complex in the fact that you keep people unidentifiable.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Take photos that haven’t got students’ faces. A lot of it is common sense.

Madonna: Common sense. How time consuming? How many hours do they need to put into it?

Kay: You need to be interacting with your PLN on a regular basis for it be worthwhile. Whether it’s 10 minutes every day or whether it’s four hours every evening is completely up to you.

Madonna: And what you get back out of it.

Kay: And what you get back out of it.

Madonna: So what’s your piece of advice for a beginning teacher, early career teacher?

Kay: Early career teacher, my piece of advice is there are no silly questions. Trust in yourself to ask the questions that you want answered because there will be other people out there who have been in your situation who want to help you, and also, there’s other people out there who are too shy to ask and want to know the answers also.

Madonna: Too [laughs]. What about a midterm teacher? How might they use a PLN?

Kay: A midterm teacher, it really depends, for a teacher in the middle of their career, what their career plans are because in the middle of your career, you’re sometimes deciding am I going to stay in the classroom, or am I going to pursue leadership and moving into administration and principalship and that type of thing, and depending upon what your goals are in your career, that will determine what type of PLN and how you approach it. So if your focus is on remaining in the classroom …

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: … then you’re going to be hopefully looking at how to enhance your pedagogy, looking for exciting and innovative ways of introducing curriculum, content, new ways of interacting with students. If you’re looking on a more leadership type track, you would still obviously be interested in all of those classroom teacher things, but you might also be looking to connect with and follow people who are already in the positions that you aspire to, to see the areas that they’re finding important and interesting.

Madonna: And make good connections.

Kay: And make great connections. Absolutely.

Madonna: So what about for someone who’s been teaching for 30 years, knows their class like the back of their hand. What can they gain?

Kay: There’s two things I think they can gain. They can gain the capacity to tailor their learning even more so to their personal interests and where they’re at in their career.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Rather than everyone else, and secondly, they can get a lot of positive feedback and a lot of positive experiences from supporting other people and from sharing all the rich experience that they have because so often that’s never shared, and it’s lost when those wonderful teachers who’ve been teaching for so long and know so much, and then they retire, and no one ever hears from them again, and it’s so sad.

Madonna: Yeah, absolutely. So let me change tack for just a moment. You aren’t only a lecturer and a PhD researcher. You’re a teacher, a deputy principal, a teacher-librarian and then a librarian, so I’m putting you on the spot. What are you reading now?

Kay: [laughs] At the moment, I’m reading this book called Affinity Online.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: And it’s about how students are starting to make connections and are able to learn in new ways through the online connections that they have in their interest areas. So there’s groups online for all different sorts of things, and the book goes through different case studies. For example, there’s a group on Ravelry, which is a social network for knitters.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: And within Ravelry, there’s a small group of knitters who knit Harry Potter related items.

Madonna: [laughs]

Kay: So puppets or gloves with Harry Potter themes, all sorts of things, and their case study examines how one girl was so passionate about her Harry Potter knitting that she used her online connections to create a stall where she was able to sell her knitting patterns.  So she was able to learn a lot about civics and citizenship and about business and about all of those different types of things, leading from her online connections and her passions.

Madonna: Passion, yeah.

Kay: So that’s what I’m reading at the moment.

Madonna: All right. So you’re off on holidays, let’s say, next week. What’s a couple of non-fiction books that you would take to keep you company?

Kay: The first one I would take is 21 lessons for the 21st century, by Yuval Noah Harari.

Madonna: Yes.

Kay: Because I really love his books, but there’s so much to think about in them that I’d need a holiday to [laughs] process it all.

Madonna: [laughs] So what would the second one be?

Kay: The second one, because my brain would be really tired after that, would be Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon.

Madonna: What’s that?

Kay: He’s a poet who takes newspaper articles and blacks out sections of the newspaper article, and the words that are left behind are his poetry.

Madonna: Wow.

Kay: And it’s really interesting, but Steal Like an Artist is all about how nothing, as exemplified in his poetry, is original. Everything is a remix, and it’s not about coming up with something completely original. It’s about stealing it in a positive and appropriate way.

Madonna: Yes, to make something new.

Kay: Yes. Acknowledging the original creator, but also being inspired by their own creativity to create your own mark.

Madonna: Teachers are always looking for inspiration good books. Any particularly relevant to them that you’d suggest?

Kay: A really great book that’s recently come out in the last couple of years is The Innovator’s Mindset, by George Curos. So it’s a book about how we can acknowledge and bring creativity and innovation into our classrooms by changing the way we think about teaching and students and learning, and it’s quite light and easy to read, but it’s full of really great little nuggets of wisdom.

Madonna: And so Kay, let’s finish here. What’s your message to a teacher who might not have really understood a PLN until now? What should they do?

Kay: I think, first of all, think about what you would like to learn more about or be more knowledgeable about, and who you really admire. If there’s anyone you really admire in your professional interest areas or in teaching, and see whether or not you can find resources about that on the social network site, like Twitter, and just read and immerse yourself in that for a little while, and then start to establish your own sense of who you are and what you want to share within that sphere.

Madonna: Well, I’m off to start my own PLN. Kay Oddone, thank you.

Kay: Thank you.

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