In order to streamline information to me, I use RSS feeds from such sites as Education World, KPBS News: Education and Discovery News, to keep up to date on news about education in the classroom and how it affects us globally. For example, I get updates about classroom organizational tips or gaining insight about what can be gained by offering choices to students. In Discovery News I get access to scientific discoveries about unprecedented blooms of ocean plant life and how that could affect people around the world.
By using Twitter I can further my reach but in a quicker way, sharing tidbits or links to websites. These can then be saved in social bookmarking sites such as Diigo to share with individuals or groups that share a common interest. In my opinion Twitter is just a fast way to reach a lot of people globally to get the ball rolling to find information on a particular subject. It is also a great place to help others by sharing the knowledge I have or gained through other networking arenas so they can grow and share, basically pay-it-forward. Currently, I am following Education Week that gives me a unique insight into some of the major issues and solutions that are happening with education throughout the country. Oceana sends me wonderful “tweets” on the latest news that is affecting our oceans, which also incorporates policy and science. I think through following both of these sites I will be better suited to educate my students by keeping up to date on current and ongoing issues.
Diigo I have found to be a great resource for compiling large amounts of information gained over the Internet. I am able to bookmark any sight into my own library or share it with other groups I have formed. It’s basically a hub that you can fill on the fly and access later to look for the information you need. It has several tools for highlighting and making descriptive notes or TAGs that others can use. I will definitely be using this in the class as not only a research tool but also a means for social networking and collaboration on projects that students can do together.
Using classroom 2.0 or Promethean Planet is another great way to build your PLN through social networking sites for educators, which connects teachers with common interests or needs. It is an area where you can share and discuss hot topics in forums, share videos or blogs and even form groups for cooperative learning through online activities, even attend a conference if you can’t make it in person. I have subscribed to Classroom 2.0 and through it researched blogs and videos on building your own network. Being new to PLN’s I need help in the understanding of how all the resources available can be used together to build such a network and to clarify what resources I want to use and be a part of. The video I watched had great insight on how all these tools can be used and managed once streamlined and linked together. She explained twitter in greater detail and helped me further understand how it can be helpful in filtering the useful information from all the extraneous information that is flowing through the Internet. I also found Promethean Planet, which is an interactive whiteboard community that was created “by teachers, for teachers”. With no effort at all I found a great article on how to teach the scientific method to kids in High School. Within the same location there is what they call the teachers lounge which has great resources for all levels of education but for me, has much more resource for science teachers than I have seen else where. I’m still exploring all it has to offer and will share what I find in future posts.
Being a relative newcomer to the world of PLN’s and social networking, it has been difficult in the beginning to understand how it can benefit me now or even in the future. After countless hours of reading blogs and watching videos, I have started to truly understand and appreciate how these tools can benefit my students’ and me in today’s digital era. It puts specific areas of information of my choosing at the tips of my fingers in a manner that gives me the control I need to organize and share it. The key is to figure out what tools you want, more importantly that you have the time to use and maintain them all. It seems with all the social media out there, that everyone just joins to extend their networking range. I think the opposite is a better way to go. Start with a couple of key areas, grow a network that you can learn from and contribute to, then expand into new areas when you can or need to. It will be interesting to see how my PLN grows and contributes to my learning and teaching over the coming year. I will share updates to my growth, good or bad, as I move forward.