Robust Learning Networks

Just how long can the author stay away from his blog and still retain a link to the network of individuals reading his posts? A very difficult question to answer and I can honestly say that I have no idea as to the responses of an audience that is varied in background and frequency. Although I can say that the content of posts will always reinstate an interest in the common word and works. It has been some time since my last post but I have developed a greater respect for the diversities of styles and content within Personal Learning Networks. I have read much on the development and use of the environments that can be created with working networks. Teaching careers have been enhanced greatly by the positive input from one PLN to the other.

After a period of time common interest in Education seems to gather like minds together no matter what the teaching style or content area being taught. The scope of members within the PLN grows exponentially with the increase of time and effort because of the common goal to gain more and more knowledge or subject matter within our circle of friends we learn from. The concepts of Siemens and Downes giving us the premise of connectivism connecting learners will increase the desire to be connected (Kline) and increase the amount of people in our network. This in turn increases the amount of time we must spend following our fellow network members but also increases the rewards of the increased knowledge within our immediate grasp.

Does the use of our PLN satisfy our need for social interaction?

Till next post. Later.

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The use of MOOC in the development of a great PLN.

I just finished reading a Blog by Debbie Morrison, posted January 2013, which explained the use of a MOOC, (Massive Open Online Course) to help manage a developing PLN.

Debbie begins with the usual “Why have a PLN?” and expands with her definition of a PLN and the differences between PLNs and PLEs. Then she begins to show how the implementation of information within a MOOC, without reading all information within, can help to build a robust informational network of a large magnitude to enhance the PLN. And as with most PLN developers she recommends the regular participation and engagement even daily if possible in the maintenance of your posts, blogs and learning. Debbie mentions an importance of participation in subgroups that spring up from the major MOOC to enhance learning and possibly broaden the learning depth of your PLN.

Take a look at Debbie’s Bolg on wordpress.com at https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/how-to-create-a-robust-and-meaningful-personal-learning-network-pln/

A suggested look at her one resource created by her on wordpress.com which speaks about learning insights online. https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/how-to-create-a-personal-learning-environment-to-stay-relevant-in-2013/

My Personal Learning Network is the key to keeping me up-to-date with all the changes that are happening in education and how technology can best support and engage today’s students.” Brian Metcalfe: teacher, blogger at lifelonglearners.com

Is a larger PLN necessary for educational growth?

Till next post. Later.

Developing Connections for a Network in Education.

The development of a solid connection with lasting commitment to content is difficult with the time constraints of educators today. There is just so much going on within our world of education today! We have greater time constraints than a decade ago and with all the financial reductions and class enrollment declines from population declines in most areas, class sizes have increased stretching the demand on the individual teacher. Most recently within most schools, the increase workload of curriculum mandates due to new CCSS guidelines and the implementation of new technologies and cyber inclusion, the teacher has less time to further education and communicate on professional levels. These issues leave the teacher with little or no time for professional development and even less time for a personal life. Something gives up demand through these time constraints, usually the professional development is the first to be slighted.  According to an article in edutopia June 3rd, 2011, “Resources for Growing Your Professional Learning Network” shows that Teachers Network at  http://teachersnetwork.org/ found that 80% of teachers said network participation encouraged them to remain in the classroom and 90% said that networking improved their teaching practice. So yes Virginia, the more you are involved the more you use participation concepts. So with the recent isolation that the teacher is feeling within their classroom the stagnation can be alleviated by exposure to communication with others in the same situation. We will grow proportionally with the growth of our Learning Network. Within a few moments of reading writings such as Neil Stevenson’s Blog at “Thinking in Mind” at http://www.thinkinginmind.com/ a teacher will get several ideas on how/where to broaden their PLN.

If it wasn’t for the last few minutes, nothing would get done on my PLN.

Till next post. Later.

The Personal Learning Network of a Teacher.

The Personal Learning Network has almost become a necessity for teachers. As an educator we must remain on the cutting edge of educational information within our field or risk the possible dilemma of becoming known as a stagnated or has been teacher. As an employed teacher we do not always have the time to read educational journals in depth to remain current on new subject content and journals do not always tell the total story we would like to investigate. We therefore pick a journal up read some then put it down. Pick it up and read a little then put it down, usually forgetting the exact details of what we read previously. Having a specific place to reference a particular subject or content makes it so much easier to go back and re-read or reference a certain passage or person. Having a very well organized PLN to document our thoughts and organize our references, helps us to become an even more effective educator. At “Teach, Make a Difference”,http://teach.com/teach100/blogs/56-The-Learning-Network  , they hit upon the importance of learning networks and the extent of their use today even in the New York Times. The individual foresight of several different educators on te@chthought, http://www.teachthought.com/  has me investigating other avenues of my personal teaching and learning to possibly post to my PLN for greater ability to see myself as a teacher and to recognize my true style without self prejudice.

The following webpage discusses the 10 characteristics of an effective learning environment. http://www.teachthought.com/learning/10-characteristics-of-a-highly-effective-learning-environment/  Although it is geared to the individual classroom of an effective teacher I feel that the content is very warranted for our discussion.  The asking of a great question is paramount to learning therefore is evident in a good PLN. Don’t hesitate to place a great question, or post, on your webpage, PLN, they create great headers for discussion or collaboration of information and people. Secondly as with Terry Heick you will find that the importance is in the question you have posted not the eventual answers which will normally become many. Then remains the other 8 points that Heick makes in his defense, and I will leave them to you to read.

A webpage, free, time searching the web, free, a great PLN, priceless.

Till next post. Later.

Getting Things Done

“Getting Things Done”, GTD, guru David Allen has a great message for all of us that are hesitant to get started on a project or to just take the time to work on our Personal Learning Networks. “Externalize” he says. Take everything that you come into contact with and keep it external to your personal self. Use it, organize it, and generate knowledge from it but don’t make it about “you”. These are just tools and they are external from your being.

I can’t thank Michele Martin enough for introducing David and his works to me, it has been a terrific read. From his book “Getting Things Done” to his webinars on YouTube to his interviews everywhere I have found a great deal of useful information in his words of wisdom. Mr. Allen even is proud to say that he still uses paper, a wallet note-taker to jot down ideas from time to time, that is where the ideas begin he admits. He has also introduced me to the idea of keeping an in-box even at a digital level that I can place tid-bits of information or links that I am just not sure where to place them but feel that they may be useful or informative in the future. This in-box although I have already found that I must go through more often than I originally expected. It also becomes very cluttered, but I must say very useful if you can find what you are looking for. So Stress-Free, well maybe.

David’s five steps to apply order to chaos will help to make your PLN much easier to organize and use productively. If you do collect information sites and process them to find out if these sites mean anything long-term to yourself then place it within your site to review it on occasion for its information and if it interests you to continue with the processes then use it as often as necessary for your education or pleasure. Literally from David, (1) Capture—collect what has your attention, (2) Clarify—process what it means, (3) Organize—put it where it belongs, (4) Reflect—review frequently, (5) Engage—simply do. Good advice.

If you are interested in David Allen’s Fundamentals Course check it out at http://gtdfundamentals.com/ .

A well organized PLN serves the owner well. 

Till next post. Later.

Is your learning Environment on the mend?

If you are like me and still trying to organize your learning environment and are feeling a little overwhelmed, do not feel alone. Many of us are in the process of organizing, increasing content, deleting content and seem to be getting nowhere. Do not fret! It is a process, and usually a life long process. Meet another as myself who has decided to blog about the process and is gaining, she hopes, on a progressive environment. I would like to introduce you to Michele Martin her web blog on her processes of changing her learning environment are at the Bamboo Project at: http://michelemartin.typepad.com/thebambooprojectblog/2007/04/reorganizing_my.html , now I do not know Michele personally but I do feel like I know her just from reading her posts.

Enjoy her writing!

http://michelemartin.typepad.com/thebambooprojectblog/2007/04/reorganizing_my.html

Maybe next time I also should look at David Allen’s Getting Things Done.

A PLN should always have a positive connotation.

Till next post. Later

Jeff or David or Who?

Going back to my October 3rd post of Jeff Utecht, is it accurate or is it make-believe? Well looking at the time element of Jeff’s creation makes me think that he really has put some thought into this work. And if you relate it to David Warlick’s (October 3rd post) growing of a PLN then you must agree that the basic creation issues are very common and deserve another look at each.

Keeping it simple goes without saying David! If we start out too strong in a design of our PLN we will get bogged down in the complexity and time consumption and not get any perpetual educational use out of the collection of knowledge we are accumulating because human nature has us trying to keep up with our original ideas and means of what we have gathered. But immersing ourselves in the information of several different or many different networks as Jeff suggests may not be the answer either, we must choose! Allowing the choice to come from the invitation of a specific network without the content containing what we are truly interested in learning will not promote or enlarge our scope of knowledge. Therefore I say, do not avoid your normal social networks and your professional networks. Periodically check out new sites or content that has been brought to your attention. Then forget about them. Move on. Go to new areas, expand!

Now remember to not forget “self”. It is not that important to read all or every post put out there, even from someone you find to be very, very interesting. Jeff reminds us that we are connecting for knowledge not for every word that is spoken by anyone.

But if it reoccurs within your thoughts or memory at some time then maybe it is worth revisiting then if it strikes an interest again add it to your PLN and follow it for a while. If it becomes, over a few months, less interesting or does not meet your needs delete it and move on, there are many other sites out there, don’t get bogged down with items that you feel are mundane. If you just continue to keep differing issues in an amount that is above and beyond human possibility to visit at least once a month then you will not get professional use out of them unless it is just a side note to use in the future as a reference under certain circumstances. As Jeff says you cannot know it all.  And as David puts it “Organize”. Have a section for hourly use, such as emails, and daily use such as news local and international and weekly use such as professional journal updates, and monthly for your professional magazines and maybe even yearly such as for Pulitzer prize winners in your interest area. Now remember this is for your professional networks do not mix up your professional and personal networks or it will become too confusing to manage and distinguish even though sometimes they will overlap somewhat.

As Jeff states, find a good balance and the correct perspective to keep you informed but not overwhelmed, you may not always have access to your website or the internet. As time goes on you will become more and more comfortable with the amount of content within your PLN and the progression of new followings and followers. The aggregator or RSS (Rich Sites Summary) feeds may grow to an enormous amount of daily, weekly, or monthly feeds to new sites and information, give yourself permission to just ignore most or even all at times and/or just scan through each according to David. Use others also as your informants they will produce great leads or tons of new information or lead you to great new ideas within your content areas.

Remember it only takes a few minutes of time to learn something new! Make good use of those moments, use them wisely. Then use your other moments as wisely with family and friends maybe even on a social medium.

A PLN is a tool use it wisely and timely!

Till next post. Later.

The PLN in Education.

Today we are going to take a slight turn to the side and check out the possibility and importance of PLNs in Education. More explicitly the creation of a PLN for educators. To do this we will first look at a site that has been of interest to me because of the links it provides for the information to why and how an educator can create a PLN for themselves within a short period of time.

The site that I am referring to is the Blog pages for educators or EDUBLOGS which is powering over 2 million blogs at the present time all of which are in education on varying subjects. The blogs are from teachers at K-12 schools, Universities and communities. The blog of which I am particularly interested in shows teachers how to create a PLN within days that promotes their educational interests. Take a look at the site:

http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/creating-a-pln/

Notice the list of ten things to do, if done in this order and with diligence I believe that the creation of a great PLN can be accomplished within a short period of time.

Remember your personal PLN is just that, make it your own. Your PLN should have your interests in mind. If in doubt as to the importance of what you have to say don’t hesitate someone will comment and let you know if you are way off base or if you are on to something of interest. By the way that reminds me, check out Pinterest site for PLN some items of interest that I will refer to later.

Just an interesting tidbit I found on a PLN, Mike’s PLN, at https://www.diigo.com/network/Turianskim a video of the use of Greenscreens: Interesting, http://tinyurl.com/Greenscreen-com 

I had to use tinyurl to shorten the URL for our site.

A good PLN should educate.

Till next post. Later.

PLN a Static Thing?

Jeff Utecht states that he has found that many people go through simmilar stages of PLN development in his blog “Stages of PLN Adoption”. His stages of development make sense for the beginning PLN developer. Although keep in mind that if you have already developed you PLN and are very happy with the direction you are headed don’t change what you are doing, continue, each of us will develop a PLN that has a life of its’ own. Here are his stages he has developed:

Stage 1 Immersion: Immerse yourself into networks. Create any and all networks you can find where there are people and ideas to connect to. Collaboration and connections take off.

Stage 2 Evaluation: Evaluate your networks and start to focus in on which networks you really want to focus your time on. You begin feeling a sense of urgency and try to figure out a way to “Know it all.”

Stage 3 Know it all: Find that you are spending many hours trying to learn everything you can. Realize there is much you do not know and feel like you can’t disconnect. This usually comes with spending every waking minutes trying to be connected to the point that you give up sleep and contact with others around you to be connected to your networks of knowledge.

Stage 4 Perspective: Start to put your life into perspective. Usually comes when you are forced to leave the network for awhile and spend time with family and friends who are not connected (a vacation to a hotel that does not offer a wireless connection, or visiting friends or family who do not have an Internet connection).

Stage 5 Balance: Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now

Jeff makes a good point, do not let your PLN consume you. It is a tool and should be thought of and used as one. Work on it when you find something you find interesting or have learned something from. Blog about it if you feel it is something you would like to tell others, link it if you find it important to your content, ignore it if you find it useless.

A PLN is a growing entity, it may increase two fold one day and nothing the next. 

Starting Your PLN!

I recently read good advice from what I would call a professional PLN monitor, David Warlick. From page 12 of Learning and Leading with Technology in the March/April 2009 issue David Warlick has an article “Grow Your Personal Learning Network” with New Technologies That Can Keep You Connected and Help You Manage Information Overload. A professor at Clarion University of Pennsylvania introduced Warlick’s article to me, very insightful!
According to Warlick, “Keep It Simple”, and you can’t go wrong. If you have a tremendous amount of information on your PLN and within your PLE then the probability of reading it all or even accessing it all is slim. So keep it simple at first. As in any endeavor start small and grow wisely, it will feel better and run more smoothly. Enough small talk, here is David Warlick’s suggestions.

                Keep It Simple

Personal learning networks may open up new

worlds, but the technologies that extend our

personal and professional learning beyond our

immediate proximity can be difficult to

understand and control. Here are 10 tips for

creating, cultivating, and pruning your PLN.

  1. Start small and limit the number of blogs

you subscribe to.

  1. Organize your subscriptions by topic or

job function.

  1. Organize folders in your aggregator

based on how frequently you need to

read them. Call one folder “Everyday” and

place in it blogs and other RSS feeds that

you need to see every day. Call another

one “Once a Week” and another one

“Once a Month.”

  1. Give yourself permission to switch your

PLN off every once in a while. While your

computer is off, take a break and go for a

walk or a bicycle ride, visit a neighbor, or

tend your garden for a few minutes. It is

also OK to ignore parts of your PLN when

you need to.

  1. Scan! You may need to read only one in

10 of the blogs that come through, but

that one will make you a better educator.

  1. Your aggregator can grow temporary

limbs. If you are teaching a new unit, find

sources that will help you prepare for it

and subscribe to them. When you’ve

learned what you need, sever the lines.

  1. Realize that your network is much larger

than it seems. You are not just reading

my blog, you are reading all of the blogs

that I read and all of the blogs that those

bloggers are reading.

  1. Invest some time, but don’t fret that it will

take up all your time. According to David

Jakes, it takes only 15 minutes a day to

learn something new.

  1. You do not need to subscribe to dozens

of educators’ blogs to learn how they are

using VoiceThread. Instead, conduct a

Google Blog Search for voicethread and

subscribe to that search’s RSS feed.

10. Some bloggers are very good connectors

and filters. They read lots of information

and then blog the gems. Excellent

examples are SEGA Tech from Georgia’s

Southeast Regional Educational Service

Agency and Stephen Downes’ OLDaily.

Now that we have that out of the way, let us refresh a thought or two. Although David has inspired us to keep it simple I still believe that more is better when it comes to education. You really do not have to flood your website with links to everything from bread to butter but remember if you have found an article, book, quote, magazine, photo, or document that says or shows something you found of interest and possibly might want to read or look at it again, then by all means a link on your webpage or in a blog would be wise!