Monday, July 4, 2011

Technology Conference Week: Using Twitter to build a PLN

I feel really lucky to have attended this session.  I was one of 2 people there!  I had a chance to pick the brain of the presenter (Don Lourcey)- and I really benefited from that.  Here is the digest version (we spent an hour discussing Twitter and Diigo. I've narrowed in on Twitter for the sake of brevity.) Enjoy!

First - What is a PLN?  It is yet another acronym. This stands for a Professional Learning Network.  There are 3 C's that happen in a PLN.  They are: Communication, Collaboration, Connection.  Teachers need to be looking for like-minded colleagues - and they might not be in the same school building. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are all places to start. I am on Twitter and Facebook and have considered starting a "team page" on Facebook for the next school year. We'll see.

Here is an image similar to one our presenter used - The Networked Teacher by Alec Couros. This one is from Flickr, click the image to go to Flickr. There are different versions of this image floating around - they all show how a teacher uses various Web 2.0 tools. Wonderful! I think I'm going to print this image (or one like it) and hang it near my desk next year. This will help me remember all the different ways I can stay connected.

The ISTE conference wrapped up last week. I sure wish I could have attended!  ISTE stands for International Society for Technology Education.  They developed the National Technology Standards for Teachers (ISTE Standards).  By becoming a networked teacher (by developing a PLN using Twitter and Diigo) you are developing these 3 standards:
-Model digital age work and learning
-Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility
-Engaging in professional growth and leadership

Building a PLN also lets us live the 21st Century skills we are trying to teach our students.  Those include things like global awareness, critical thinking, adaptability, collaboration, media fluency, effective speaking, problem solving, creativity, analytical skills, effective writing, curiosity, innovation, and synthesis.

Power of Twitter - I've only had a professional Twitter account for a few weeks (since the evening after this session actually!) But I've quickly realized how valuable it is.  It is what spurred me to re-task this website. I needed a place where I could record thoughts, reflections, and ideas revolving around my classroom.  Twitter has also helped me find some fantastic people to follow - check out who I follow and then who they follow.  Lots of great resources there!

Finally Twitter isn't just about making random Tweets. I'm still getting into the whole conversation end of it.  But if you follow hashtags (which is usually a word or acroynm with a # in front) you can find even more people to follow and share with.  Here are some hastags that were recommended to me:
#edchat - Education Chat
#edtech - Educational Technology chat
#elemchat - Elementary Ed chat
#daily5 - Daily 5 chat (a way of organizing reading groups/centers)
#teachertuesdays - Chat that takes place every Tuesday
For more on Twitter:

TweetDeck - manages multiple accounts and Facebook/Link'd In - a separate program that runs in the background. Lets you use Twitter without going to the main website.

Special thanks to Don Lourcey for not minding all my strange questions and comments during the session.  You can find out about him here, here, and here.

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