Sunday, March 8, 2009

Me and my Personal Learning Network

Your Personal Learning Network (PLN) is way to collaborate with people that you don't see everyday. It is a way to become more productive by leveraging the knowledge of others to avoid reinventing the wheel. My PLN was dormant for years and has blossomed over the past year with the explosion in Web2.0 technologies (see picture below). For years, there has been a saying in the business world that "it is not what you know, it is who you know". This notion is at the core of PLNs. You will know when your PLN is working when are addicted to it and must you check it several times a day. With PLNs, you generally get what you give. The more you interact with others, the more valuable will become as a resource for others. These are important skills for 21st Century Digital Literacy and you will eventually use these same PLN tools to communicate with your students.

To start your PLN, try the following:
  1. Create a blog and update it at least once a month. Once a week is even better.
  2. Register your blog at
  3. Create a Twitter account and follow smart teachers
  4. Find other teachers' blogs using Bloglines
  5. Search for other teachers' blogs using Delicious tags (link)
  6. Search for other teachers' blogs using Google (link)
  7. List of teacher blogs (link)
  8. Another list of teacher blogs (link)
  9. Yet another list of teacher blogs (link)
  10. OK, one last list of teacher blogs (link)
  11. Search for other teachers' blogs using Google’s blog search (link)
  12. Once you find a relevant teacher blog, Introduce yourself and post a comment.
  13. Create a Delicious account and store your bookmarks. I also use Diigo, but it is more advanced.
  14. Use Delicious to find teachers with good web resources and add them to your network. Searching Delicious tags like this.
  15. You can also find blogs through Delicious as most teachers list their blog. Once you find a great bookmark, see what other users have bookmarked. It is easy to spot other teachers by the way they tag bookmarks. Visit their Delicious account and see if they list their blog.
  16. Visit my bookmarks.
  17. Search Google for teacher blogs in your subject area. Use a detailed search like this.
  18. Google also has a directory of blogs here.
  19. There are also blog directories like this one, this one, this one, and this one.
  20. Once you find a few great teachers, check out their "Blog Rolls" of teachers that they value,
  21. Look for social networks setup for teachers using Nings. Teachers who are part of these social networks usually have a badge shown on their blog. See mine along the right-hand side of my blog.
  22. Fight information overload by using an RSS reader like Google Reader, Pageflakes, or Netvibes to aggregate blog posting, bookmarks and social network conversations.
  23. When building your PLN, don't forget about the potential of the college you attended or professional organizations.
When I have a few minutes, I will see what's brewing with my PLN. I have work hard at the care and feeding of my PLN so that I can ask a question and get a response in a few hours. The beauty of a PLN is that I don't have to know who to ask - I just ask my whole network.
  1. See the Tweets of people I follow for what's hot and look for new resources.
  2. Review the latest blog post headlines from my blog roll and read interesting posts. Sometimes just the title gives me an idea.
  3. Review the discussions on my Nings and add comments. Keeps me ahead of the curve.
  4. Review new bookmarks and look for people with lots of relevant bookmarks. I rarely need to Google anything because my PLN tends to find resources well before I need them and profile them.
  5. Think about ideas for a new blog post. I usually have several unfinished and unpublished blog posts. This acts like an informal to-do list.
  6. Search for conferences to attend and conferences with video feeds for the sessions. You can view most conference presentations online.
  7. Search for professional development resources. I like to know what other schools and other teachers are learning.

Image used under Creative Commons License from this URL

Monday, March 2, 2009

Engaging the Digital Generation

Most of us have seen videos about how the current generation is very different because of their exposure to media. Here is another video that proposes a few ideas for teacher to embrace technology (classroom ideas start at 4:30).