Personal networks are the key to success in the uptake of the emerging technologies. A dear and valued colleague of mine, Sue Waters is presenting for Educational Computing Association of Western Australia (ECAWA) State Conference next Friday to overview the ways educators can use online tools to forge personal learning networks related to our areas of interest. Sue is held in high regard by me she connected with me when I first joined twitter and jump started me with names of people who I could follow. The online work that Sue does is a fantastic resource – her blogs and wikis and she is one vital cog in my network. So to answer her questions:-
1. Your name, what you do, what part of the World you are based (to demonstrate the global aspect) and, if applicable, your main web site
I am Anne Mirtschin, and teach information technology to years 2 to 12 in a small rural school in south Western Victoria, Australia. This is my main website and my classes blog with links to students is at http://murch.globalteacher.org.au
2. What do you think are the 3 most important aspects on personal learning networks I should cover?
• The sheer necessity of PLNs in utilising the emerging technologies and web2.0 tools
• The value of PLNs
• How to establish a PLN or where to find them?
3. Why is your personal learning network important to you? Which tools are the most important part of your personal learning network, and why?
- My personal learning network is of utmost importance to me. I was lucky to attend a staff inservice led by Heather Blakey who blogs at “soul food café”. She took me under wing and introduced me to her wonderful group of bloggers (who are experienced but not teachers). With their encouragement and comments, my blogging took on a value and purpose. That same group encouraged students in our first class blog at http://backyard.globalstudent.org.au The students loved a real audience and from there we all have individual blogs now.
- My school staff are also important especially Jess McCulloch who helped with much of the technical aspects of the web2.0 tools and who I now partner with to establish the eplanks for a virtual school. (21st century school.
- The old fashioned emailing lists are still important to me and connections are still made there.
Classroom2.0 was another enormous factor in the successful uptake of web2.0 tools and many connections have been made there. I still value highly my membership here. The membership of other ning groups has also been important for networking eg http://www.projectsbyjen.ning.com
Through these nings I have gotten involved in webcasting, blogging and live blogging with other schools in USA and Canada which has been the absolute highlight for my ICT students.
- Blogging has connected me and my students to many others. I now have unknown students from other schools and countries appear in “my classroom” and regularly add comments on our blog prompts. This has been great for my students as we live in an insular rural area where other cultures are rarely seen. One blog prompt was shared with Collaboration Nation and the query came from them as to which holidays we enjoy most. Most students in both countries chose Christmas and talked about that, but one of my unknown “students” commented that she was a muslim and therefore did not celebrate Christmas. This was a real eye opener for my kids. Conversations flow through the use of comments on blog posts.
- global projects eg “day in a sentence” led ably by Kevin and Photo Friday by Bonnie. Strong connections have been made there.
- Finally, I have just realised how my students are more and more becoming a PLN as they are now teaching me and blogging about websites and tools that they have found.
It is so important to share, and give as much as you take from your fellows.
4. Can you provide examples of how your personal learning network has enhanced student learning within your classroom?
My student blogs are a great example of how learning has enhanced. The comments that are made on them from others has often led to further student directed learning. Students have learnt to email back to those who comment and also comment back on that person’s blog. Digital citizenship and responsibility is constantly being learnt.
Connecting with Collaboration Nation and live blogging.
5. Your tips for educators on how to get started setting up their own Personal learning network.
- Join an emailing group in a subject or area of interest to you.
- Join a ning group eg www.classroom20.com or www.projectsbyjen.ning.com or other local or district groups
- Visit educator’s blogs and general blogs, comment on them and establish a relationship.
- Attend conferences – online or real
- Join twitter, find a friend or known person getting them to jumpstart you
- Don’t underestimate your own staff and work with someone else who is interested.
Thanks Sue for making me part of your network!