Monday, April 16, 2012

Build your Personal Learning Network, Day #7--positive digital footprints

To create a positive digital legacy, you must write, develop portfolios, spur waves of change, and build personal learning networks (PLN). With a personal learning network, you can control your audience and target specific groups. Think of it as your marketing campaign. If you want to reach the Columbia, Missouri market, you will look at various forms of advertising that will best market your business to the Columbia area. Likewise, when marketing your digital legacy, you want to find Web tools that will allow you to showcase yourself in a positive light and network with others who share your goals and who will encourage you to grow.

There is an abundance of tools out there for building your PLN; however, that does not mean that you have to use all of them. Just as you do not exhaust every marketing resource available, you only need to use the tools that best suit you. In my case, I use Blogger, Facebook, Diigo, LinkedIn, Google Reader, Twitter, and Google Docs. Blogger allows me to showcase my work in a convenient platform while Facebook lets me learn from others and develop my network. Diigo is a place to store what I have learned and Google Reader is a site to read the words of others in my field. And, Google Docs is a platform for developing my work that I showcase in my blog and on my Facebook page.

However, your personal learning network may vary drastically. Therefore, it is essential that you ask yourself the following questions when developing a PLN (remember: first build your own PLN as an educator and then, call upon your students to develop theirs):

  • What are your professional/learning goals?
  • What tools are your favorites?
  • How do you want to leverage yourself?
  • What do you have to leverage yourself?
  • Who do you want to connect with?
  • What do you currently use to connect with others?
  • How might you broaden that?
  • How will you manage your network? 
What is a PLN:
  • Social (it's your own social network)
  • Manageable (it contains groups you belong to and can contribute to EASILY)
  • Motivational (it is full of other similar professionals who can motivate you)
Student PLNs:
  • From Edna Sackson's Wordpress page on "10 ways to help students develop a PLN":
    • 1. Arrange the tables in groups.
      Provide opportunities for students to engage with their in-class PLN.   Encourage conversation.  Encourage cooperation. Encourage collaboration. Set tasks that allow students to construct meaning together with their PLN.
      2. Let them talk.
      Don’t do all the talking. Don’t be the filter.  Allow them to respond directly to each other. Even if it’s a frontal lesson where you need to explain new material, allow 5 minutes here and there for them to talk it through amongst themselves. Use thinking routines like ‘Think, pair, share’.
      3. Be part of their PLN.
      Model what good learning looks like and sounds like.  Share your own learning. Learn with and from your students. Don’t pretend to know all the answers. Discover and uncover new things together.  Don’t overplan. Explore and investigate with your students.
      4. Promote an out-of-class PLN.
      Let them work with students from other classesProvide cross level opportunities. Arrange electives that allow collaboration across grade levels. Organize learning experiences that involve other teachers.
      5. Flatten classroom walls.
      Create global connections. Collaborate with kids in other countries.  Set up a Voicethread so kids all over the world can respond. Find classes learning about the same issues to debate with on Skype.
      6. Learn from experts.
      Invite speakers from your local community. Bring in people from anywhere in the world via Skype. Encourage students to pursue their interests by finding people they can learn from outside of  school and online.
      7. Encourage conversation with family.
      Invite parents to share in the learning, in person, or by commenting on class blogs and wikis.  Set tasks that involve parents, grandparents and siblings. Send student questions and wonderings that haven’t been addressed in class, home for discussion.
      8. Learn through blogging.
      Start a class blog.  Write for an authentic audience. Ask teachers from other schools and in other countries to get their students to comment. Get your kids to read and comment on other class blogs. Develop a conversation. Develop a relationship.
      8Focus on communication.
      Whoever’s in your PLN, you need to know how to communicate. Listening is just as important as speaking. Teach them that it isn’t always about you. Model consideration and mutual respect within a PLN.
      9. Define the student’s PLN.
      Increase awareness that learning doesn’t belong only at school. Ask them to think about who they learn from and with. Get them to create a mind-map showing their personal learning network.  Keep adding to it as the network grows.

Resources before beginning your PLN journey:

These are merely the beginning. If you don't use a professional/personal learning network now, it's time to start! As the lone "techie" at my school, my PLN has allowed me to still stay connected with others in my field despite them not having a physical presence. In fact, this blog is a reflection of resources from my network. 

No comments:

Post a Comment