Technology has become an integral part of classroom life. While students certainly reap the benefits of having a wealth of information at their fingertips, teachers like you can also capitalize on technology’s many uses.
New and veteran teachers alike can utilize the Internet to build their Personal Learning Networks, gaining classroom know-how and connections that will help advance your career.
What is a Personal Learning Network?
Unlike your classroom, your Personal Learning Network (PLN) is available to you seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It consists of all of the educational sites that you join to have discussions with other educators and find classroom resources.
You can participate in scheduled chats on Twitter, write and comment on educational blogs, and join websites that offer discussion forums and other resources. Not only will you gain valuable pedagogical knowledge, you will be able to bounce your own teaching ideas off of peers and administrators.
Twitter is one of the best tools for building your PLN. It is a social networking site that allows you to post and receive messages. The messages are called “tweets,” and when you send a tweet, everyone who subscribes to your page (your followers) receives it.
Since Twitter is massive and you may have some difficulty finding the types of groups that you would choose to follow, twitter4teachers was created to organize accounts based on subject areas. The topics include early childhood, English as a second language, 21st century learning and much, much more. You do need an account in order to participate in discussions, which is free and easy to setup. TeachHub also offers scheduled weekly chats for teachers.
Blogging has become incredibly popular in classrooms. With a blog (or “web log”), you can write ongoing commentary related to a specific subject. There are a number of websites that offer free blogging tools, like WordPress and Blogger. Teachers can set up blogs to stay connected with parents and students. You can also benefit from reading and commenting on others’ blogs.
For example: USC Rossier offers information on continuing education, classroom management and other aspects of education on their blog; Teach.com cover the latest educational news; and Certification Map has teacher profiles and other interesting tidbits.
A note about blogging: As With anything that you post to cyberspace, be mindful of what you write on your blog or as comments on the blogs of others. Once you post, you leave a “cyber footprint” that others can view (including students, parents and administrators).
Pinterest is an online pinboard on which you can share and discover lessons and resources. Many schools and organizations have Facebookpages that can be useful for organizing or even just socializing. Teach Hub, as mentioned earlier, also offers education news, teaching blogs and lesson plans. And remember: More invaluable resources are just a Google search away!