PLN as PD

Over the course of the last year, I’ve found myself engaged at various levels with a personal learning network (PLN) mostly via Twitter. It’s been wonderful! I’ve heard different perspectives, had people visit my classroom to present to the class, connected with people both close and far. But one of the most overwhelming differences that the PLN has introduced me to is the wealth of online reading of blogs and articles from around the globe. Articles that, unless I dedicated my life to it, would never be able to find otherwise.

So this got me thinking about the educational benefit this has for my career and how I can attempt to possibly explain this to anyone who’s not on Twitter, who’s not experiencing the same wealth of knowledge and generosity from like minded professionals. I wanted something I could refer to for personal use, something I could show current colleagues and employers and for future employers. I searched the web for some online reading logs, to no avail. There are tools such as Shelfari but this is really just for books. Nothing that I could find seemed to fit as a quick and efficient tool to log online reading. Except one that was under my nose, one I’m already using.

The solution – Delicious! The tool, not the taste 🙂

I’ve set up yet another delicious account where I can bookmark any readings that I’m doing. I wanted this one separate from my personal account and from my class account. One just for logging my online reading. So here it is.

Twitter and me…

It was some time in 2007 when I attended an IT conference at the Singapore American School. I attended a workshop on… well I can’t remember the topic either. What I do remember is that a wonderful promoter of technology in education, Kim Cofino (@mscofino) ran the workshop and this is when she introduced me, and the rest of the audience, to tools such as Twitter.

According to ‘When Did You Join Twitter’ I signed up on the 30th January 2008. My first reaction, even after seeing how Kim had used it, was ‘This is stupid! Why would anyone want to know what I am doing?’ So, I left it. My account sat there, untouched, for over a year. In which time I had started networking with educators in ways that made more sense to me at the time – via websites and forums such as Classroom2.0. This worked for me. I learned a lot from the thousands of educators online and I was even able to give advice to many.

I’m not sure what it was that sparked my interest in Twitter again, but I thought I’d try again. I logged in and started searching for people I knew. Again, @mscofino came into the picture. After a while of following a handful of people, I needed more, so I emailed Kim to ask some advice. Her reply…

Hi Ben,

So glad to hear you’ve started building your personal learning network! I’m sure you will find it invaluable to your professional practice!

The presentation I gave at SAS is all online here: http://21stcenturyeducator.wikispaces.com/

It has tons of resources and links for how to get started. Also, I would recommend connecting yourself with fellow international school Twitterers, have you seen this list: http://mscofino.edublogs.org/2009/01/24/international-school-teachers-roundup/

In the end, it will be your personal connections that make your network. But commenting on blog posts, responding to Tweets, and participating in social networks like Ning are the way to get started!

Please add yourself to my spreadsheet (linked within the post above) if you haven’t already 🙂

I hope that helps!

Kim

I took her advice and quickly began to build up a larger network. I also used methods such as looking through the list the people I was following were following (ie. go to the twitter page of a person you are following, then click on ‘following’ to see all the people they’re follwing). Pretty quickly I had a good sized group of educators from whom I was learning and also giving some advice. This continues to grow daily as I follow people referred to in tweets and when other educators actually follow me 🙂

But it’s not just educators who I follow now. I have great pleasure in learning from, staying up-to-date from or being inspired from…

NEWS STATIONS

@SGnews and @SBSNews are a couple of news agencies that I follow and have stayed ahead of the regular news. For example, I was able to keep on top of the recent riots in Bangkok and I heard about the Swine Flu on Twitter before any other news form.

LEARN FROM

@EcoInteractive, @Oxfam, @GreenITers, @Greenpeace_Intl, @Greenpeaceafric and @LWFIndia are just a few organisations that I follow and learn from.

BE INSPIRED

I have developed quite an extensive list of inspirational quotes from @larryczerwonka.

COMPANIES

I am also able to keep up-to-date with what some of my favourite companies are doing. The most useful of all, because I use Google Apps in my classroom, are @GoogleAppsEdu, @GoogleAtWork, @googlemaps and @google.

So where am I at now? I use Nambu to stay in touch with all of my followers and the people I follow. I wake in the morning and I have at least 200 tweets to read, from which I almost always get a handful of useful links, web tools or interesting bits of information. Throughout the day, the tweets keep coming, with yet more links etc. It’s become a huge part of my work day – another commitment on top of the many already in the average day of an International School Teacher. But it’s one that I am happy to take the time for because it truly enhances me as a teacher and me as a person.

BTW, I am @bgrundy.