Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Personal Learning Networks (ADE Institute Reflection)

The Apple Distinguished Educator Summer Institute was a profound professional development experience for me. Over the next few weeks I will share reflections on the experience.

Probably the most valuable take-away is how being an ADE impacts my own "Personal Learning Network." I am now connected to the fabulous resources of Apple Computer. and hard wired into a community of passionate and innovative digital educators.

As Karl Fisch points out, you are already in a PLN:

A PLN isn’t a particularly new idea; learning networks have existed for a long time. What’s new is the reach and extent that’s now possible for a PLN, with technology and global interconnectedness providing the opportunity for a much wider, richer and more diverse PLN than ever before.

I 've been drawing my professional strength from a more global PLN for a year or so. One of my first blog posts marveled at the way Web 2.0 was drawing information from outside my school. It is now much more clear to me that we must help our students use their social media skills to construct their own learning networks. This will help us break down the rigid restraints of desks, schedules, bricks, and teacher-at-student design.

One cannot help to guide students in this enterprise unless he or she has experienced the benefits of a broad and vibrant PLN. If this is new to you, here are basic suggestions for extending yours:

* Join professional social networks like Nings ( "free" online platforms for creating social networks). Start with large ones like
Classroom 2.0 and EduBlogger World. Then be on the lookout for more specialized groups. I joined three Nings while at the Summer Institute. Similarly, wikis and listservs provide similar advantages.

* Set up an RSS feed of your favorite blogs. Ever since Will Richardson recommended Google Reader to our staff, I've used it. I try to keep a cap of ten ed tech blogs so that I don't become overwhelmed. Liz Davis provides a simple two minute YouTube tutorial on setting up the Google Reader. After this has become a comfortable part of your life, then begin to engage in the conversations on the blogs.

* Start blogging yourself, or set up a Ning around your own special interests and invite others to join!

David Warlick suggests virtual worlds: Sometimes called MUVEs, [they] are places on the Internet where people can meet and work together, regardless of geography. Many educators consider their Second Life avatar as their primary node point for their PLN.

* Social Bookmarking offers fabulous opportunities for collaboration. I've enthused about the highlighting, note sharing possibilites of Diigo in earlier blog posts.

* None of my faithful readers will be surprised that I've saved the best for last. As I wrote in Why Twitter? , once you learn to filter who you "follow", Twitter can be a rich source of links, blogs, and easily digestible nuggets of professional reflection. It is extremely low maintenance, requiring less personal investment than Facebook. Twitter has been a key to my own professional growth by leaps and bounds.

Please suggest other ways for educators to build their PLNs!

Screen Capture of ADE PLN Ning

No comments:

Blog Archive