PLN for Beginners
More and more school districts are considering implementing technologies in the classroom. Whether it’s a full fledge BYOD initiative or simply incorporating online materials in the curricula, teachers nowadays are exposed to a plethora of newly developed web tools. In a perfect world, teachers who are asked to use classroom software would be trained and provided with the knowledge to make full use of the technologies. However, that is rarely the case. As a result, it’s becoming increasing essential for educators to have a Professional Learning Network (PLN).
We all know that a PLN is great. But honestly, who has time to do all that blogging and tweeting? Even if you blog about nothing but kittens wearing hats, it takes a lot of commitment.
The truth is: you don’t need to become a PLN superstar overnight. Your first step to creating your own PLN is to simply immerse yourself in it.
Start with navigating the PLN landscape with these 5 tools:
1) Explore – Google Reader
Register for a Google account if you don’t have one. This allows you to sign up for RSS feeds when you come across interesting articles.
Not sure which blogs to subscribe to? We’ve put together a few Google Reader Bundles to start you on your way. Simply click on the link and subscribe.
2) Organize – Diigo
Diigo is a bookmarking service that lets you highlight web pages, save links, join groups and organize resources. All you need to do is sign up for an account and install a toolbar button. This way, you can save virtually every link you come across.
Check out these top Diigo groups:
- Classroom 2.0
- Edtech talk
- Discovery Educator Network
- eLearning 2.0
- Web 2.0 tools for teachers
- Cool tools & Ed Tech
- Google in Education
3) Ask Questions – Twitter
This is the part where it could get addictive, especially if you have a smart phone! This is also the part where you can get addicted to learning new things every day, which is an amazing thing!
- Kick start your twitter feed with this crazy list of over 1500 educational leaders.
- Or, check out this spreadsheet of education influencers by subject.
- Learn to use #hashtags to follow a specific topic or join virtual “chatrooms” like #edchat every Tuesday, #cpchat for principals and #ntchat for new teachers on Twitter. See a list of education twitter chats here or start with these most popular hashtags by Edudemic.
- Ask your colleagues if they have twitter accounts and follow them.
Before you know it, your kids are going to ask you to put down your phone.
4) Socialize – forums
Sometimes you have a specific question to ask and you want many people’s opinion. Or, you might just want to geek out with other teachers outside of your school. Forums are the best place to go.
Here are some great communities to join:
For topic specific forums, look at Connected Educator’s directory
5) Get inspired – Pinterest
Pinterest is particularly useful for K-12 teachers who are always looking for creative ways to engage young students. You can find beautiful classroom designs, ideas for back to school treats, creative classroom activities, CommonCore cheatsheets, Infographics and even Ryan Gosling meme for teachers on Pinterest. Pinterest is addictive for a reason.
Search for pins and boards on topics that interest you and start following users who share your interest.
We will be following up with an Intermediate PLN post shortly, so stay tuned!
What is your PLN story? Share with us in the comment section below or tweet to us @SharpSchool.