Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Journal 7: My Personal Learning Network

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is one's web of friends, acquaintances, professionals, and resources centered around improving oneself as an educator.  There are many different ways one can build their PLN;  a few of the tools I incorporate in my PLN are Twitter, Blogger, Diigo, The Educator's PLN, and Classroom 2.0.

One of the tools that I use most often to expand my PLN  is Twitter.  Following specific topics such as "#edchat," "#ntchat," and and "#sped," allow me to see other educators in the Twitter community and the things they post.  Often times the postings of these educators are related to topics I am interested in and I can use their resources to learn and share with my online community.  In addition to my fellow technology classmates, I am following several educators in various fields from around the country.

My Twitter network includes principals, teachers, former teachers, parents of special needs children, educators focused on incorporating technology into the classroom, and other aspiring educators like myself.  All of the people I follow regularly post articles or links to tools they find interesting or helpful.  I frequently investigate these resources, and often "retweet" them to my followers.

An additional feature of Twitter that I have become increasingly involved with is the concept of "chats."  Chats are congregations of people who want to engage in an online conversation about a certain topic by posting with a specific hash-tag at an agreed upon date and time.  I recently participated in "#Edchat," a popular chat for educators and those interested in education that covers a wide range of topics from chat to chat.  I participated in #Edchat on 11/1/11 at 9:00 P.M. PST.  The topic of the chat was "Is the rift often found between IT people and classroom teachers a real issue?"  Many people had differing views on this topic, largely based on widely varying personal experience with working with IT people in either a positive or negative manner.  There were disagreements during the discussion, but they remained civil and participants were open to other viewpoints than their own.  It was interesting to see so many people with such different backgrounds and experiences participate in a discussion and share their thoughts on an issue that many educators struggle with.

This instantaneous flow of information among people with similar interests is an incredible tool for teachers and anyone aspiring to be an educator.  For example, if I as a teacher in a special education classroom had a question about how to engage high-behavior students in learning activities, I could simply "tweet" this concern to my network on Twitter with several relevant hash-tags and I would likely receive many responses from educators with experience in the area.  Accessing such information from people from around the world is a surprisingly simple task when using tools such as Twitter.

Another tool I often use when searching for resources is Diigo.  Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that allows me to create a library of resources I find on the internet that I find interesting and want to access later.  "Tags" can be attached to these websites, articles, or tools, which allow others to see what I have found when searching for that specific tag.  Conversely, I can search various tags and see what others have added to their library.  If there is a Diigo user with whom I share similar interests, I can follow that user and stay aware of interesting resources they find and learn from them, not unlike the way in which I follow users on Twitter.  I follow several educators on Diigo, all of whom regularly add relevant resources to their library.  I often find interesting resources in the library of a user I am following and after researching it, share it with my Twitter or Facebook network.  Upon finding a resource I find helpful or that I think others will benefit from, I give it a "PLN" tag.  This allows me to build a wealth of resources that I refer back to and share with my various networks.

In addition to Twitter and Diigo, I have recently joined the Educator's PLN, a social network created through Ning.  Upon joining EduPLN, I created my profile and began searching for people and resources.  Several of the people who I follow on Twitter and Diigo are also part of the EduPLN community.  The latest article I read on EduPLN was written by a Twitter user who I avidly follow, Lisa Dabbs, also know as TeachingWithSoul.  She is the founder of the New Teacher chat on Twitter (#ntchat), as well as The Teacher Mentoring Project, which was the topic of this specific article.  Ms. Dabbs created this online group project with the hopes of helping new teachers implement the many things they are learning in the first years of their teaching careers.  She made the point that new teachers are often very enthusiastic about new ideas and concepts to utilize in their classrooms, but they often are overwhelmed all the things that come with being first, second, and third year teachers.  This often leads to those exciting ideas being pushed to the wayside.  The Teacher Mentoring Project is aimed at opening lines of communication between new teachers and more experienced teachers who may be able to help them figure out ways of implementing all of the new and exciting things they are learning about, while staying up on their responsibilities as new teachers.  Ms. Dabbs points out that the benefits of this project go two ways.  Not only are the "mentees" helped by the guidance of the experienced teachers, the mentors are also enhancing their teaching skills and developing both personally and professionally.  The article can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment