Personal Learning Network . It is an idea that has changed the face of how we network.
Years ago, you had to meet someone face-to-face–shake their hand. It limited the number of people in your professional or social network. You were limited to the number of people that you had actually met, in person. Today, all of that has changed, due to computer networking opportunities. Educators have no excuse not to network. The social networking opportunities that exist boggle the mind.
Network services such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Flickr, and many others are all common household names, in any household that is even remotely technological savy. Most of these sites allow you to create your own personal web — a place where you tell who you are and what you are doing, and then share that information with others, as you learn about them, as well.
The problem is that online networking has earned a bad rep in the world of education. As a matter of fact, many of these sites are even banned in schools. They are not seen as a source of professional networking. So, for some teachers, there is no question of using these strategies with their students. It’s just not possible. But, what about using them, yourself?
Business networking has long been known to be a strategic technique for anyone who wants to get ahead in the world of business. Small business networking has been encouraged if a small business wants to ever be able to compete with “the big guys”.
But what about educational networking? We have often heard the words collaboration used in the field of education. But, in this new age we can sharpen our own teaching skills even farther by developing a personal communication network to communicate with other educators.
The Innovative Educator uses a phrase called Personal Learning Network (PLN). This network that she refers to consists of every imaginable digital social networking resource, tied together. She recommends that every educator have a PLN. This is different from a personal learning environment, which is an excellent tool for students and will be discussed later.
Why would we need a PLN?
Karl Fisch demonstrates in his post that a personal learning network helps us to reconsider our way of thinking about certain topics, as we connect and brainstorm with those in our network. This learning network creates a way for each to learn from each other. After all, education is all about collaboration. As we collaborate with other educators, we exercise those same thinking skills that we encourage in our students. The entire world of educators become our professional development teachers. Through this type of networking we help each other develop professionally. Many sites even offer networking events with professional development for teachers, in which you can meet many people at once and know that those people are targeted to your needs and interests.
The problem is that just like with most technology, most teachers will never delve into this world, because they don’t even understand the digital networking basics. They might even be afraid of the overload of social networking tools that are available when you begin a simple search.
Once A Teacher… lists many different Web 2.0 Tools that can be used to establish your own personal network.
One of the first steps in creating this network could be to create your own blog. Sure, we are beginning to hear a lot of advice about having our students create blogs to further their educational experience. But, when you stop and think about it, how can you teach something that you haven’t experienced, yourself? A blog is an easy way of jumping into the world of personal websites. Sure, as you learn more, you can add a multitude of web 2.0 tools to your site. But, in the beginning, starting with a simple blog will get you started networking.
Every educator should maintain a blog for many reasons. Only a few are listed below.
1. A blog provides a place for educators to reflect on a day of instruction, thus encourage valuable personal learning.
2. A blog provides a place for educators to share difficulties and solicit help with other eductors.
3. A blog provides practice in the very writing those educators are expecting from their students.
4. A blog provides a good arena to develop both personal and professional networks. It is an excellent tool forboth professional and personal growth and development.
5. A blog is an excellent way of ensuring excellent parent contact throughout the year.
6. A blog is a great way for the educator’s students to keep up with assignments, news, announcements, etc.
7. A reflective blog could be good documentation of progress in your personal development plans, or could also be used to determine what areas should be included in those plans.
However, before an educator can benefit from a blog, at all, they must create and learn how to use a blog. Technology can be overwhelming sometimes simply because we forget to move one step at a time.
In the next few posts, I will explain how and where to create a blog, how to use that blog, and what to do with it, once you’ve established your own blog. I’ll also be sharing some networking tips that you can use to expand your professional network. By the time we are finished you’ll be amazed at your own networking skills and will have a strong team of professionals in your personal learning network.
Keep your eyes open for the next post and in the meantime, thanks for visiting ScholarTech Online.
And, oh yeah…….
The Innovative Educator has a post that describes one of the first things you should start doing is reading blogs and making comments. So, go ahead and leave a comment here. *grins* Then, make your way to the other blogs linked in this post and make some comments to them, as well.