Social Media and Education

PLN’s – Social Media and the Network

Posted on: May 1, 2010

I have been learning a great deal since I began working this blog. I need to pause a moment to reflect on my journey and consider my next steps as an educator.

I begin my career in the classroom four years ago. From day one, I have used every available technological tool to impact my students and their learning. As I have developed global learning partners through networks like ePals and Global School Net, I have met some wonderful educators and made a number of friends.

These meetings led me to discover blogging and the nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas and information through social media tools like FaceBook and Twitter. Before I knew what it was, social media was intwining itself into the fabric of my life. Before I knew what it was, I was a member of a Professional Learning Network (PLN).

Social Media really began for me in September of 2008. I had played and explored NING in Education, a teacher networking site that helped educators find others with similar interests. That September, though, was when I joined the Global Virtual Classroom Challenge and was partnered with Marsha Goren of Ein Ganim School in Petach Tikva, Israel and Matt Kuntz of Lincoln Elementary School in Oak Park, Illinois.

Our job was to work together with our students and create a website that somehow wove the concept of kindness into school life. In an effort to help our students communicate more quickly and more effectively, we used blogging and podcasting in addition to email. In all, more than 2,000 messages were exchanged in the course of our project.

As the project drew to a close, my daughters and grandkids introduced me to FaceBook. They used FaceBook to replace a site our family had on Yahoo Groups. Logging in and out of that had become a bit tedious. FaceBook was always at our fingertips.

I got a bit more involved in a Web 2.0 section of the Ning in Education network. I started visiting the blogs of other educators. Some were using Twitter to share short messages and links to specific sites about issues in education. Intrigued, I joined Twitter.

Twitter led me to new relationships that covered a wide variety topics. I found others who were boldly bringing social learning activities to their students. I found others who were using tech tools I had only seen on television. I found others who were on the front lines of policy making at both local and national levels. I found all of them wanted nothing more than to use and share their skills to bring the best possible learning opportunities to all students. I found friends.

In a very short time, I had a growing, evolving PLN of my own. Networks within networks have made for incredibly rich learning opportunities for me and now I realize something really important. None of this would have happened without social media. Within an hour of opening my Twitter account, I was well on my way to having a successful PLN. I could not have had that success without social media. To form such a network earlier in my life would have been incredibly time consuming and nearly impossible.

My PLN consists of education professionals and technology experts from around the world. I can share and learn in webinars, direct emails, follow some to their classrooms, learn how to use the tools I have more effectively and so much more. If I didn’t require sleep, I still would not have enough time to explore the endless flow of information. I can reach multiple members of my PLN anytime, day or night.

Though I am far from an expert, I have learned so many things that provide engagement and authentic learning for my students. Now, I have a goal for them. I want the students in my classroom to reap the benefits of their own PLN’s. I want them to reach out to members of networks I help them create and share ideas, problem-sovle, and inspire. Isn’t that the way we learn? Isn’t that the way our students should learn? Networked learning removes the limitations of time and space. Networked learning makes the content of our standards meaningful, contextual. Networked learning is real.

How will I accomplish this? I don’t have a clue, but I know where to start. I’m headed to Twitter right now. I’m going to ask my PLN.

Rick

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1 Response to "PLN’s – Social Media and the Network"

i like your post. great technology blog.

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