Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Journal 7: My Personal Learning Network

Journal #7: My Personal Learning Network (NETS 5)

A Personal Learning Network, or PLN as it is often called, is the network that each person uses to connect with others through technological tools and social interaction in order to learn and share with other people interested in similar topics. By using different tools to share your own ideas and pass along information that you found helpful or interesting as well as collecting information from others who are doing the same thing, gives you access to an abundance of information for your personal and professional growth. The tools that I use in my own PLN include, Twitter, Diigo, my educational Blog, gMail, and The Educator’s PLN, all have collaborative and connective elements that allow me to network with other individuals interested in education and math. By creating this PLN and conitnuing to add to it, as a teacher, I will be informed and connected with a lot of new ideas and information that becomes available. I will be able to share things that I have done in the classroom that did or did not work, as well as gather suggestions and advice from other educators. It is important to stay informed, and through a PLN, this becomes possible with all of the different tools that are available to share and collect information on all different subjects.

In order to start-up my PLN, I created a Twitter account to network with other educators and people interested in education. Twitter is a social networking site that allows users to connect with other people through the use of following their posts or participating in chats using a hashtag symbol in front of a common string of letters that connects ideas on a subject. I have followed a number of people, including all of my fellow classmates in ED 422 at CSU San Marcos, and other people I have found that are also interested in education, mostly through my involvement in chats and other research. I participated in a chat on July 25th, 2012 at 5:00 p.m for new teachers using a tool called TweetChat which allowed me to read incoming posts, click on links posted by other users, and respond to questions/comments in the chat. Using the hashtag #ntchat, I was able to read all posts that were part of the chat. The chat on this particular day focused on “long-range planning”. There was discussion surrounding the pros and cons of this idea as well as ideas of how to start planning and the steps involved in making a long term plan for a classroom. It was a unique chat because we had the facilitator, who is an experienced educator, a number of other current teachers, new teachers such as myself, and other people offering resources that they thought new teachers (and current  teachers) might find helpful. It was a good introduction to how chats work because I know that this one moved slow compared to some of the other chats, but I still found it hard to keep up. I think I am going to need to get used to missing certain parts of the discussion what it has moved too fast, and going back to the archived discussion to get more information if I am particularly interested in the topic. Overall, this experience was very informative and I see myself using this tool of my PLN in the future to gather and share information.

Another tool that I have recently added to my PLN is a social bookmarking tool called Diigo. 
This is a very helpful tool to not only save sites that you find interesting yourself, but another way to share them with other people. Diigo allows you to bookmark whole sites to save in your library, or just certain pictures or quotes from it as well. It allows you to go back to the site at any time to get more information or reread, as well as allows you to tag your bookmarks so that you can go back and find them later by connecting topics with key words. I have created a network with this tool of other people posting articles related to education, and specifically a few educators interested in math education so that I can see new ideas and resources that they bookmark and tag. In my Diigo library, I have bookmarked a few blogs and other resources and tagged them with PLN so that I can go back and access these pages easily. I chose to bookmark one site that has a variety of resources for educators, as well as different blogs that have information about current trends and ideas in education. These should help in staying connected and will allow me to share resources I find through Diigo on my Twitter if I feel that I want to get the information to more people.

As another part of my PLN, I have joined The Educator’s PLN which is a digital discussion forum especially for educators to use in order to share information. There is a variety of mediums that people share information, from videos to chats to articles and blogs, which makes it easy to find information on the topic you’re researching. I searched the site and found a number of interesting resources, including many blog posts. One blog in particular discussed the resistance by many educators to adopt and learn new forms of technology. The author of the post encourages educators to view incorporating technology into their classrooms by breaking it down into easier to understand parts. He makes the claim that, as educators, this is what is done for the students in their classrooms, so why not take the same approach in learning new ideas themselves. This was particularly interesting to me, as I am trying to approach the idea of creating a PLN and maintaining it. At the beginning it seemed overwhelming to try to understand it all and add all of the different components to make it effective, however after taking it tool by tool and learning each one in order to allow them to build on each other, I have created a PLN that will continue to grow. This is what the author of the post encourages all educators to do, not take it as a whole package, but instead, learn from their own methods of teaching and break it down into more manageable parts.

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