Sunday, November 27, 2011

Learning With Your PLN

I often get asked how I learned what I know about technology.  That is not a simple question to answer as there are so many different avenues I use to learn about new technologies or how to use older technologies in newer ways.  I think of the Beatles song "With a Little Help From My Friends".  Now, not all the lyrics support my process but the "help from my friends' part definitely is.  "My friends" are the people in my Personal Learning Network, my PLN.

I use a few different sites to connect with others interested in how to use technology to improve teaching and learning.  The most effective one for me right now is Linked In Groups. I have joined three groups: International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Technology Integration in Education (TIE), and Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association (WEMTA). These three groups provide me with answers to questions I post as well as allows me to learn from others' postings and questions.  If you have not already joined these groups, I suggest you give them a try.  Create yourself an account at Linked In, join these groups, and start adding colleagues into your professional circle.

Another way that I learn about ed tech tools is to search sites like Slideshare and Prezi to find presentations created by others.  Often times, there are wonderful presentations posted there that make it easy for me to quickly scroll through the presentation, stopping only at the points where I will learn something new.

YouTube is another great place to search for tutorials and presentations to learn about any new ed tech tools. Create an account for yourself and you can save favorites as well as subscribe to "channels".  These channels are created by individuals or organizations and are gold mines for learning about ed tech.  For instance, if you subscribe to Google Apps channel, you can get an email each time a new video is uploaded. The same is true for TED talks and many other great YouTube channels.  Check out Michael Welsh's video on Reinventing Education.  It took me two minutes to find this on YouTube.

At times, I use Twitter to find information, although, I have to admit that it is less productive for me.  I use Tweet Deck to easily see others' tweets as well as to follow specific hashtags such as #edtech.  I also contribute by tweeting things I find on the Internet as well as retweeting posts that I think others will find valuable.

While these tools are not the only tools I use to learn on my own "with a little help from my friends", these are some of the key ones.  Look for a future post about how to use Google Reader to stay on top of the blogs you want to read the most.