Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Creating Your Own Personal Learning Network 2nd Ed.

Since my last post about PLNs in October, I've thought a lot about the metaphor that David Warlick used at the SAGE conference I attended.  He compared the development of one's own personal learning network (PLN) to tending a garden.  You need to try new 'crops' out and 'weed' out sources of information as you go.  I've worked hard this year to develop my own personal learning network and I'd like to share some tips for you to create your own learning 'garden'.

Because I've dealt so much this year with iPad deployment in our division, much of the searching for resources I've done has been surrounding applications that can be downloaded onto the iPad.  There are a couple of different methods of searching for apps that I've used.  I've downloaded apps like Apps Gone Free, App Start, App Shopper, and Autism Apps, all free apps that help you search for applications to use on your iPad.  This hasn't been my sole source of information about apps, but it has been very useful.  I've subscribed to blogs and bookmarked websites, after Google searching 'technology blogs'. I've also viewed webinars through the Closing the Gap archives.  A combined print and online subscription is just over a $100 and gives you access to some leading assistive technology experts.  These are just some of ways that I've gathered information about the world of apps.

Another great resource I've used this year has been Pinterest.  It is an online pinning board that allows you to browse 'pins' that others have flagged while perusing the internet.  You create boards to organize your pins and a quick search of 'technology' or 'applications' brings up a vast selection of pins for you to 'repin' to your boards.  I've pinned so many websites and blogs, I haven't actually had enough time to read through them all.  It is a quick way to search for information if you've got a mere few minutes in your hectic day.  All from your iPad or iPhone as there is an app available in the app store for free.

Another effective way of gathering information about technology I've used this year as TILT is Twitter.  Recognized as a social networking tool, it is a widely used resource for educators and frequented by those who are technologically inclined. Now, that being said, I've never tweeted and probably won't, it's just not something I'm interested in at this point. I simply browse the tweets of people I am following to learn about new tech resources.  Most posts of the people I follow tweet about great sites that contain information about online or web 2.0 resources.

I've offered just a few ways to get started on creating your own PLN.  Because my job deals with technology, that is what I tend in my garden.  You can tailor your PLN to meet your own professional learning needs.  Simply follow people that are like-minded and specialize in your same educational specialty. Subscribing to blogs and creating accounts with Twitter and Pinterest are easy ways for you to link yourself to great human resources.  The information is available instantly and how much you contribute to the online community is completely up to you.

Here is another option to tweak your own school PD days or staff meetings.  I just read through an interesting article written by Sylvia Rosenthal-Tolisano, who has a great educational blog with some incredible insights.  You can read about her perspective on 21st century professional development here.

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