“With a little help from my friends”

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So, what is a Personal Learning Network?  Or, as we like to call it, a PLN?  According to Bev Novak, it is

  • “a group of people with whom one connects, communicates and collaborates in the sharing and exchanging of information and ideas, and through whom one increases one’s knowledge and understanding of topics of interest.” (Novak, 2012)

Photo provided by Ed Yourdon on Flickr – Creative Commons

But why develop a personal learning network?  We can talk about the practical aspects to a learning network…like, for instance, you’ll be able to gain knowledge and learn new things about technology.  But have you considered the amazing and potential impact a PLN will have on your life?  Creating a Personal Learning Network will enable you to not only learn from others, but by sharing your own ideas, someone may just learn from you!   You will be able to connect with others, not only with those you already know, but with many who share your same interests in the field of education!  Wow!!  There is no end to the possibilities of a Personal Learning Network.

A PLN gives you the ability to control your own learning process, by allowing you to pick and choose the topics that interest you.  You are able to explore an infinite number of sources and endless possibilities to give you the greatest opportunities to learn.  “In short – a PLN allows you to learn anything, anytime, anywhere with anybody you choose!” (Novak, 2012)

 Tagxedo

A PLN gives you the ability to control your own learning process, by allowing you to pick and choose the topics that interest you.  You are able to explore an infinite number of sources and endless possibilities to give you the greatest opportunities to learn.  “In short – a PLN allows you to learn anything, anytime, anywhere with anybody you choose!” (Novak, 2012)

So, where do you begin?   Start simple..and build from there.  Take a look at this catchy little video (Spencer, 2012):

  1. For those of us taking on-line classes, we have already “taken the plunge.”  By creating our own Blogs, and sharing our own thoughts…by learning about Web 2.0…and bookmarking sites…it’s happening!
  2. Begin making connections with your own peers and co-workers at your own schools, getting them involved in Web Logs.  Post your thoughts and allow a conversation to emerge.
  3. Join other Blogs of people with similar interests as you.  Pick sites where what you read will benefit your educational needs.
  4. Sign up for memberships on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other various social networking and microblogging sites, where you are able to communicate frequently and on a regular basis with others.
  5. Find interesting Podcasts and streaming media to help with your educational endeavors.
  6. Once you begin gaining valuable knowledge, and start feeling comfortable with sharing through various forums, get involved with video chatting or Skype.
  7. Join sites such as Classroom 2.0 to assist in building your own Personal Learning Network.

Think about it.  Who is in your learning network?  Who are you able to glean information from on a regular basis?  Where do you go for your own professional development?  What are you waiting for?

CREATE YOUR OWN PERSONAL LEARNING NETWORK!

References:

Hargadon, Steve.  (2012).  Classroom 2.0.  [Web resource].  Retrieved from http://www.classroom20.com/

Leung, Hardy.  (2006).  Welcome to Tagxedo, word cloud with styles.  [Web resource].  Retrieved from http://www.tagxedo.com/

Novak, B.  (2012).   If you don’t have a PLN, you don’t know what you are missing. [On-line article].  Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_80/articles/if_you_dont_have_a_pln.html

Spencer, J. (June, 2012).  Sketchy Explanation:  Starting a PLN.  [Video file].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/user/OurSocialVoice/videos

Yourdon, E. (March, 2009). One of the rare non-Apple laptops. [Picture file].  Retrieved from http://fr.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-3405811164

Where are we going?

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Where are we going?  This is a question that every teacher must ask themselves on a regular basis.  Where ARE we going?  Look around you…pay attention to your surroundings.  What do you see?  After viewing the video “Did You Know” (McLeod, 2011), I pondered that very question, “Where are we going?”

As a society, we are immersed in technology and digital resources.  It is our current way of life.  At the very least, we must, as individuals, be equipped with “computer literacy” where we “have current knowledge and understanding of computers and their uses.”  Greater still is the need for “information literacy,” where we know “how to find, analyze, use, and communicate information.” (Shelly, Gunter, Gunter, 2012).  So, what are we doing, as teachers, to fulfill this need in our students?

“Are we doing what is best for our students, or are we doing what is most convenient for us?”  Karl Frisch commented, “Our schools are designed for the convenience of the adults, not for the needs of our students.” (McLeod, 2011).  Human nature tends toward doing what is comfortable – what is familiar – the traditional.  But is that right for our kids?  Are we really preparing them for what’s out there?  We must integrate technology into our current curriculum by providing our students with necessary digital equipment and willing teachers who are ready to move forward into this digital world we live in.

In my current assignment as a media specialist, I observe teachers from both ends of the spectrum – those who say, “Bring it on!” and those who sheepishly reply, “I don’t know about this.”  For example, three years ago, we acquired Mimio boards for every classroom on our campus.  We attended the training.  We viewed online webinars.  We shared ideas.  But after three years, there are still some of our traditional-minded teachers, fabulous teachers in their own right, who are not using the new technology as an integral tool in teaching the curriculum.  Is it fear?  Lack of time?  Insufficient knowledge or support?

And then, suddenly, it came to me :  I am the captain of the techno-cheer squad!  I see where we’re headed…I know we’re doing what’s convenient.   I need to do whatever it takes to better myself in order to be the resource my team deserves.  And together, we will do what’s best for our kids!

So, what do we do from here?

  • Recognize the need for our school to move forward technologically.
  • Work closely with a willing administrator who wholeheartedly embraces technology.
  • Set modest and attainable goals and reach these goals one step at a time.
  • Collaborate and provide professional development opportunities for the teachers.
  • Get parents involved in the process.
  • Actively acquire funding for new projects.
  • Never stop learning!

Our kids are depending on us to help them become “productive citizens in an emerging global economy.” (Shelly, Gunter, Gunter, 2012).  It is our responsibility – our duty – to ensure that we prepare them for their future.

References

Classroom clipart. (n.d.).  Computer clipart. [Web clip-art].  Retrieved from http://classroomclipart.com/clipart-view/Clipart/Education/17-5-07-37_jpg.htm

McLeod, S. (2011, August 4).  Iowa, Did You Know?  [Video file].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1JyLYphevc

McLeod, S. (2007, May 1).  Well? What’s Your Answer?  [Web log post].  Retrieved from http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2007/05/well_whats_your.html

Shelly, G., Gunter, G. & Gunter, R. (2012).  Teachers Discovering Computers:  Integrating Technology in a Connected World (7th Ed.).  Boston, MA: Course Technology.

T., Shayni. (2012, July 15).  TeacherFiles – A Free Educational Resource.  [Web clip-art].  Retrieved from http://www.teacherfiles.com/clip_art.htm