Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Journal 7: My Personal Learning Network

This journal article meets NETS 5.

1. A "personal learning network" (PLN) is an on-line network of contacts that can be a valuable resource for today's educator. By using Twitter, School 2.0, the Educator's PLN, and Diigo, I've created my own PLN. This has helped me connect with other teachers that have similar interests. I can virtually chat with anyone from all over the globe using a PLN. As a new teacher, this is very informative in helping me develop new ideas and keep current on topics in education, technology, and biology, the subject I plan to teach. In addition to virtual chatting to exchange ideas, educators can also exchange links to direct colleagues to resources they've found useful. As a teacher, I will be able to collect a database of useful biology links, keep current on news in biology, and get great lesson plan ideas. Once in the classroom, I can engage students in an on-line chat setting to foster group discussions, study groups, or help students after school by answering questions quickly.

2. Using an account for only educational and professional purposes (@biorachelteach), I use Twitter to connect with other educators. Twitter is a web-based social networking tool that allows you to directly message others of your choice, individuals or groups. You can also participate in chats of interest, such as #edchat or #ntchat. I selected people to follow by searching for groups, topics and people with similar interests, such as #biology and #teacher. I'm following 72 people in my network, composed of colleagues from my 422 class and other educators. I'm also following several biological science groups to stay up-to-date on what's current in the field. My favorites are @BiologyEdu, @ScienceEduc, @NSTA (National Science and Technology Association), and @NatGeo.

I also participated in the New Teacher Chat, #ntchat, on Wednesday, August 1st at 5 pm (PDT). This very fast-paced chat was packed full of useful information for new educators. Using HootSuite, a free, web-based platform to help manage your tweets and Twitter chats, I was able to re-read or pause posts during the chats to get the most information out of the deluge of tweets that occurred during the hour on #ntchat. I was able to connect with 2 other biology teachers, one who is a new teacher like me, and the other, a veteran biology teacher looking to help out new teachers. The veteran bio teacher even offered to send me useful biology teaching links to give me ideas for the classroom. In addition to making new connections, I also was referred to several notable links, including a news story from National Geographic about the ongoing and illegal hunting of dolphins and whales. I found the chat a bit overwhelming but manageable with HootSuite. The pros definitely outweigh the cons, however, as I learned many new educational tidbits.

3. I used Diigo, a social bookmarking tool, to make an archived library of useful science and educational articles. These articles can be shared with other educators. In addition, I can search for articles others have saved on Diigo and add them to my library. Each article is "tagged" with keywords, relevant to that article. These keywords help others locate the articles when doing searches. It also helps me to connect to others interested in similar keywords. I selected ten people and four groups to follow on Diigo, based on shared similar interests, specifically education and biology. I can easily peruse articles they have archived in their library and then add them to mine. One nice feature of Diigo is that it recommends new groups, people, or articles to follow, based on interests. Diigo can direct me to new groups of relevance I wasn't aware of. My favorite group is "Biology Teacher".

4. I joined the digital discussion forums: The Educator's PLN. Both are on-line forums for educators to exchange ideas and network. Each has groups I can join, educators I can chat with, and areas where I can explore and upload relevant articles and videos. The Educator's PLN leads #edchat on Twitter as well. On the Educator's PLN, I explored some of the links discussed in the "Blog" section. Since I'm currently using Weebly to compose a website on CyberSafety, I read the article about using Weebly, which gave me more information about how best to use Weebly to suit my educational needs. The article includes a link for more information about Weebly for Educators as well as some links to other sites educators have created using Weebly.

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