The Power of Networks – PLN and Peeragogy
Sunday, November 18, 2012 by Timothy Scholze
I have been thinking a lot about networks this week. Networking, networks, and personal learning networks (PLNs) as well as peeragogy have dominated much of my time. Having a strong PLN will help both learners and teachers alike become more successful and happy with the work they are doing.
Peeragogy and personal learning networks are synonymous terms meaning self organized peer learning in networks. We tend to learn best when we are learning what we want to learn, when we are excited about the topic, when we have a passion for something. If you get a group of people together for the intention of learning from each other you have created a personal learning network. Howard Rheingold has gathered a number of resources regarding peeragogy at the following link http://delicious.com/hrheingold/p2pu. He also links to Anya Kamenetz’s P2PU (peer to peer university) course on “Getting Started With Self-Learning.”
I spent part of yesterday updating my profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great place to make connections and find possible job opportunities. Recently, one of my contacts noticed that I had given presentations in the past and asked me if I would be interested in presenting to a group of teachers on technology in education. This invitation came at the same time that I was expanding my PLN to include other teachers via twitter. I had also been researching social media literacies along with using twitter in the classroom and as a PLN. I thought to myself, what a perfect opportunity to research more on a topic I enjoy, connect with other connected teachers, and to share my findings with others.
I spent the rest of the day keeping up with my peers on twitter and trying to organize and tag the items in my diigo library. It simply amazes me that in two months of research and connecting I have gathered well over 300 links in my diigo library. I have also learned how to use many social media and web 2.0 tools. Building an online identity has become second nature to me. There are just so many free tools out there to help teachers and more are being added daily and others being updated on a regular basis.
If you become overwhelmed by the amount of information available check out the following video by my friend and fellow teacher Dr. Doug Belshaw http://bit.ly/S7y60s . It is only 9 minutes long but it shows how you can set up your system to create a more organized workflow. At first I was overwhelmed by the amount of information I have come across, but watching Dr. Belshaw’s video has really helped me to become a bit more organized. I even downloaded the Spotify app that he showed in the video and I regularly use it for background music as I work, research, and communicate around the world.
Apps like Evernote, Pocket, DropBox, Google Drive, SugarSync, and online tools like diigo, Scoop.It, Paper.li, Pinterest, delicious, and Storify are all helping me to stay organized and up to date with all of the information I come across. If I need help with anything, I just give a shout out to my network and someone will be able to help me. If I have questions regarding twitter there are about a half dozen people in my PLN that will help me out within hours if not minutes. If I need more information about badges in education, I know that I can reach out to a few people in my PLN to get help.
As teachers we cannot know everything but the power of networks means that when we need help, have questions, or simply need support that we have a PLN we can depend on. You can create your own PLN both online and face-to-face. I watched a short video yesterday where one school had mini workshops with teachers presenting to small groups of their peers twice a week. The power of networks is simply amazing.
The Internet has opened many possibilities to create networks between teachers across the globe. We not only have twitter, but we can connect via Skype, Google+, Facebook, Google+ hangouts, to name just a few. Today we have opportunities that could have only been imagined fifty years ago. Don’t be afraid to just jump in and start using the technological opportunities that are available to you. I guarantee that you will find the things that work best for you and your students. Just realize that it’s impossible to use everything and that you cannot be an expert on everything, but then again that’s part of the reason for developing your personal learning network.
Blogging About Digital Information Fluency, Web 2.0, and Social Media Literacy
Sunday, November 11, 2012
My Thoughts on Information Fluency this Week
This week has been extremely busy for me. I have been spending a lot of time following my personal learning network (PLN) on twitter. Something that I believe every teacher should do is developing a PLN with like-minded individuals. My interests tend to drift into the areas or digital information fluency, web 2.0 technologies, and social media literacy.
I completed my second course in UW-Stout’s eLearning certificate program. This was a course on assessment. In this course I developed a professional development blog http://21cif.wordpress.com, a Scoop.It page on Leveraging Information in 21st Century http://www.scoop.it/u/tim-scholze, a Twylah page that aggregates the information I follow on twitter http://www.twylah.com/scholzet. I had to develop an e-portfolio so I created a website on weebly http://scholzet.weebly.com/. Social bookmarking became a way for me to keep track of blogs and articles that interest me. I signed up for both diigo and delicious and I believe that they each cross post the information to each other!
I found a number of cool tools this week that will help me become a better teacher when that teaching job finally comes along. I hope that you too find these tools useful.
This tool is a must for every teacher and student. Evernote is an awesome way to keep information located in one place from jotting down notes, taking pictures, and audio recording to keeping lists, files, and editing, Evernote is the go to almost-does-everything tool. From the website, “Evernote lets your take notes, sync files across your devices, save webpages, capture inspiration, and share your ideas with friends and colleagues.”
This tool serves as what the title says. If I find some information online that I want to read later I have been using Pocket. I have this handy tool loaded on both my android phone and on my MacBook Pro. Pocket gives you options for displaying information either with a picture (perfect for pinners) or as a list. Your pocket can start to get really full if you’re spending a lot of time online researching. But, it’s a free tool that allows you to easily mark something interesting for later viewing.
Hardly anyone takes the time to learn about APA or MLA styles for referencing sources anymore. The reason why they don’t lies in the form of the free online tool BibMe. The tool allows you to type in the information for the type of source you are citing and then it automatically puts that information in the format you need. I used this tool just recently when I had to cite my sources for the final project in my assessment in eLearning course. I would also have the history students I taught use it to cite the sources they used for their National History Day projects.
Storify is a great tool to use to turn your social media feeds into a story. You are able to search through your social media sites to look for the feeds that relate to a topic and gather them in one place for organization. For example, Storify allows the user to organize tweets from twitter into a neat timeline story. On Halloween of this year R.L. Stine tweeted a 13-message story here on his twitter account and a person can locate those tweets and be able to have the complete story from beginning to end in one place without all the chatter that usually comes between tweets. Your stories can also be shared via social media too.
There is much to learn about web 2.0 tools, social media, and digital information fluency. I will take just a few steps at a time in my blog using a technique called chunking. For next week’s post I would gladly take suggestions from you. Just leave me a line or two in the comments below.