Since attending the Illinois Techology Conference for Educators (IL-TCE) in February, I've been thinking much more about building my own personal learning network. PLNs were mentioned at nearly every presentation I attended, including those by Steve Dembo, Steve Hargadon, and Vinnie Vrotny. I already ready followed many blogs and did a great deal of reading there, but I wanted to build my relationships with people - to communicate, collaborate, to interact, to give my voice to the discussions. Along with social networks, many people said that Twitter was a good place to start so I decided to give it a try.
Twitter, a free social network and "microblogging" service, allows you to communicate with frequent, short messages (only 140 characters) called "tweets." Not only can you share your thoughts, observations, and daily happenings, but you can follow the tweets of other people. I started by following the same people whose blogs I read daily and soon discovered that they were posting information on Twitter that wasn't in their blogs. For example, over spring break when I had time to check new "tweets" often, I discovered that David Warlick was presenting live in Texas and later Will Richardson was speaking in Tennessee via ustreamtv. I was able to watch their presentations as if I were in the audience, but from the comfort of my couch! In following Twitter, I've learned about interesting articles, blog posts, webcasts, and people that I otherwise may have never stumbled upon. I'm still getting comfortable with my own contributions, but it's a start.
I've never been a techie - just a teacher wanting to follow best practices and newly inspired by the possibilities of using technology in the classroom. I'm simply trying to keep up with my young students who sometimes know more about computers than I do. I want to use technology in meaningful and authentic ways. I'm intrigued by how technology is changing the way we (should or could) teach, learn and connect to the world. My husband now calls me a geek, but I know that I'm in good company!
If you, too, are interested in learning about technology in education, here are just a few of the places I visit frequently for own professional development. The wonderful thing is that much of this learning happens when I have time for it. If I miss a live presentation or webcast, it's often archived as a podcast or on ustream. I can share my thoughts and questions and receive quick responses through comments on a blog, twitter, or immediately during a live chat.