PLN stands for Personal Learning Network. A PLN is one's version of social networking for educational purposes. A PLN can network you with other educators who then may share with you valuable resources and information. Professionals often come together to expand their PLN's through online tools like Twitter. Twitter allows these educators to participate in regularly scheduled "chats" which are moderated and have new topics each time. The chats are a fantastic way to ask questions, share information, give opinions, and discuss the real problems that are facing education today. As a teacher, this can help tremendously; there are virtually thousands of resources shared on Twitter everyday. You can sort through the information to your specific subject and find the answers to many your questions. I plan to use Twitter to network with fellow Math teachers and become friends with them. When problems arise and I need help, I plan to look to them for advice and suggestions. Also in my PLN is a social booking website called Diigo. With Diigo you can bookmark websites that you find particularly interesting and share them with other educators. You can also use Diigo to network with other educators and get access to all of their bookmarks. This is an incredibly powerful tool by which you can search for websites with the specific content and materials that you seek. Last, I decided to join Classroom 2.0, which is a digital discussion forum; it is essentially a place where educators from around the globe come to share information in the form of forum posts. There are thousands of threads in the discussion forums that contain all sorts of information for educators. Also on Classroom 2.0 are labs, articles, recordings, and events.
I decided to participate in #edchat on Tuesday, July 31 at 9:00 a.m. I kept a look out for people who were educators so that I could follow them on Twitter. The topic of the chat was the future of the classroom.
I plan to use Twitter to further develop and maintain my PLN. Twitter is a great tool for meeting new people and sharing ideas about education. I'm impressed with the amount of weekly chats that are available specifically for those interested in education. The chats are a great way to spend a Tuesday morning and I will probably attend one at least once a month. After participating in the chat, I chose to follow a few educators who shared ideas similar to mine. Some of these educators have thousands upon thousands of followers! I view following them as a great way to receive trustworthy information, links, and ideas.
The chat is definitely fast. There are constantly new posts coming but what I like is that you can basically pause the chat by choosing not to view the new Tweets right away. This gives me time to actually read and follow links that people have posted to the chat.
One person whose account name is "Eye on Education" posted a link to a .pdf file containing "31 Days Worth of Online Activities: The Connected Educator Start Kit." I downloaded it and it seems really useful in explaining all the new online tools for education including Twitter and Web 2.0. Here is the link to the pdf: Tools
One person started a long discussion with the question, "How do you envision the learning places of the future?" Many teachers posted that they wanted to start transitioning their classrooms into laid back, cafe style atmospheres to inspire student collaboration. Some educators suggested that the classroom may change aesthetically over time, but it will always be a necessity in our society. As one person Tweeted: "Tech advancements are changing the definition of a 'classroom' but not doing away with it." Online and virtual environments including online schools are also changing the face of the classroom. But from what I gathered from this chat, most people agree that the traditional classroom is here to stay.
I'm using Diigo to maintain my PLN by bookmarking pages that interest me and tagging them with "PLN". The helpful links I get through Twitter chats and other pages are all send to Diigo to permanently store them for easy future retreival. Also on Diigo are many groups to follow. One group I joined, "Math Links", posts daily updates on new links and information. These updates are sent directly to my email account.
I'm currently following 2 math teachers, 1 person who is a department head of educational technology, 1 person who in interested in expanding his own PLN, and 1 person who is a regional technology coordinator with over 18,000 public bookmarks!
I tagged a few sites I gathered from the regional technology coordinator with "PLN". I chose these sites because they all have to do with mathematics in education. One site gives lesson plans and activities for grades Pre-K to 12. Another site gives tips on how to teach mathematics in a visual way that is easy to understand for students. The last site is a forum-type site that gives resources for teachers in a well-organized fashion.
Digital Discussion Forum:
I chose to join the Classroom 2.0 website and put the badge on my blog. I researched the article entitled "Kindelizaton: Are Books Obsolete?" In this article the author, Stephen Krashen questions whether physical books and textbooks will become obsolete in the future. He presents percentages that show huge increases in the number of adults who own e-readers and e-books. In addition, 62% of high school libraries use e-books and experts estimates that in 5 years, 84% will use e-books. I agree with Krashen's opinion that "kindelization" is far away even though more and more people are starting to use e-readers. As of now, cost is the most limiting factor for families who do not own e-readers and I think that many families would rather spend their hard-earned money elsewhere. It both excites and scares me to think that complete "kindelization" could one day become a reality.