Book Club 2.0 – An Online Professional Learning Network

Book NetworkA few months ago, we wrote a blog post on our sister site, Early Childhood Investigations, about the potential and power of learning communities. The idea for the post was sparked by an upcoming presentation by Ellen Galinsky, who was a guest presenter for a webinar in the Early Childhood Investigations series. She discussed ten key characteristics of learning communities, many of which are applicable in online spaces. Our favorite three for online spaces are:


  1. Focus on learning from and with each other and share a belief that there is expertise among us all.
  2. Focus on active learning that is experiential and engages participants in self-reflection and self-discovery.
  3. Use new media to connect in creative ways.

A number of learning communities (online and face-to-face) began to form around Mind in the Making, and now, with the launch of the Early Childhood Technology Network Booknet, we realized that we have the opportunity to create our own online learning community through our summer book club. Although online book clubs are not a new phenomenon, they are just starting to become popular in the field of early childhood. Previously, many groups have gathered around Mind in the Making and organizations such as the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education have used online spaces for book discussions.

This summer in particular, there are at least two books clubs that are actively taking place online for early childhood educators interested in discussing technology. One is the Booknet here, where we will be reading and discussing Digital Decisions: Choosing the Right Technology Tools for Early Childhood Education by Fran Simon and Karen Nemeth and the other is the Book Study Blog Party, which is reading Teaching in the Digital Age: Smart Tools for Age 3 to Grade 3, by Brian Puerling.

Book wiredThe two book clubs are taking a slightly different format, one is more blog-based and the other is built around online discussion forums and live author chats, but they both provide an exciting opportunity to take part in an online professional learning community. If you are often online and interested in technology, you have probably heard the term “PLN” or “Personal/Professional Learning Network.

Joining an online book club is a great way to build or expand your own PLN and connect with other educators and readers who are specifically interested in examining a topic in more detail by reading and discussing a shared book. To get a sense of the discussions happening around Digital Decisions and to add your own thoughts, you can check out the responses to chapters one and two that will be posted this week. You might post questions, examples of technology based activities you have used, or resources to share. Reading the book and posting on the Digital Decisions Booknet might also be a way for you to document your professional development hours.

There are many ways to build a PLN and joining a book club is just one of them. If you’re interested in learning more about PLNs and various technology tools you can use to connect with others, take a look at this post.

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