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Leading by Learning: Exploring the Professional Learning Networks of Instructional Leaders

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Educational Media International Volume 55, Number 2, ISSN 0952-3987


Leaders in education are often the sole person in their particular role in a school, and have thus frequently struggled with professional isolation. In recent years, social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter have created new opportunities for educators, including instructional leaders, to expand their professional learning networks (PLN) to include a wider array of people, spaces, and tools. This manuscript presents the findings of a qualitative study of 400 instructional leaders' perceptions of their PLNs. Instructional leaders in our sample included principals, superintendents, librarians, and technology or curriculum specialists, coaches, and facilitators. Data were collected from a convenience sample via an anonymous online survey. Respondents described diverse, multifaceted networks composed of people, spaces, and tools. They reported that their PLNs supported their growth as learners, educators, and leaders. Participants asserted that their PLN activities positively impacted their learning and practice in a number of different ways. PLN impacts were described in terms of particular knowledge and skills, but also in relation to dispositions and community. We discuss our findings in relation to the extant literature. These findings have implications for defining the present and future of instructional leaders' professional learning.


Trust, T., Carpenter, J.P. & Krutka, D.G. (2018). Leading by Learning: Exploring the Professional Learning Networks of Instructional Leaders. Educational Media International, 55(2), 137-152. Retrieved May 13, 2021 from .

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