Sunday, May 31, 2009

MSSD Tech Fair: Keeping Current - Growing Your PLN

Personal Learning Networks are virtual spaces that employ aspects of social networking and blogging. They allow us to connect with others in our field and learn with and from them. They provide a safe and convenient place to ask questions whether we're in the information stage of gathering new ideas or in the implementation phase of new methods. PLN's allow people to keep up with current happenings in their fields.

To start growing your PLN there are a few handy tools to set in place.
  1. Google Account and iGoogle Homepage
  2. Twitter Account
  3. Diigo Account
  4. Subscribe to blogs
  5. Ning Community (Classroom 2.0)
Sue Waters has a terrific set of instructions on her Grow Yourself Wikispace. We'll be using this wiki for a majority of our activities today.

Step 1
In order to subscribe to blogs you have to set up some sort of way to view updates in a convenient location. We'll do that by creating a gmail and iGoogle Account. You can take it one step further by signing up for Google Reader at a later date.

After you have set up your iGoogle Account, visit a few of these blogs and add them to your iGoogle homepage. By no means are these the only blogs to follow, they represent a small sampling so you can a feel for subscribing to them.
Cool Cat Teacher
Always Learning
You'll be able to follow any blog you visit by subscribing to the RSS feed.

Step 2
Set up a Twitter Account. Follow these simple directions. When you create your account name, make it personal. Mine is lisettecasey. This lets others easily find and relate to me. Edit your profile and put information in describing who you are and what you do. This helps others to see what you may have in common. Once you've set up a twitter account you'll need to find people to follow. View my recent post for some terrific tools to accomplish this effeciently. To learn more about other tools to utilize Twitter check out this wikispace.

Step 3
Set up and use social bookmarking like Diigo. Join groups (EdTechTalk, Discovery Network, Science Teachers to name a few) and enjoy the many benefits of a global community. I use the same username as in Twitter to make life easy.

Then start off your mornings with a dose of growing your PLN.

Exactly what does my Personal Learning Network (PLN) look like? Here’s a sample of how I spend the first half hour of every morning learning before I go to work:
  1. Check my email.
  2. Check in with Twitter and Classroom 2.0 to see what people are saying, blogging, what websites are being referenced, or what webinars may be available later in the day.
  3. Visit interesting bookmarks shared through the Diigo groups I belong.
  4. Check Facebook to see what friends and relatives, some personal some professional, are up to this day. (I can do this through TweetDeck - a Twitter platform)
  5. I’ll check my school and student email. (Students use a unique email to access me.)
  6. I’ll check my blog to see if I need to respond to anyone or perhaps I’ll add a new post.
  7. I’ll review the new posts of the many blogs I follow.
  8. Whatever new comes my way that day, I’ll click and check it out.

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