For those that don't know, a PLN, or a personal learning network, is a teacher's or student's network of sources, usually online, where peers are able to share ideas focused on a common interest. In my case, my goal is to become a history teacher , so I have tried to connect myself with other history teachers in order to access ideas about fun and inventive ways to present the material in class. In order to connect myself to some other teachers and students in the same position as me, I have used a few online tools. These tools include Twitter, Diggo, The Educator's PLN site, and Symbaloo. All of these sites are free to join, and make it possible for any individual to access an entire world of new ideas.
Probably the most useful tool out of all of these is Twitter. After joining Twitter, I was able to find numerous other history and social studies teachers who are continuously sharing their methods in the classroom, as well as interesting links to stories or websites about teaching. Twitter also makes it possible to follow in live conversations about education. For example, every Tuesday night at seven, there is an AP US history chat where history teachers will meet at to discuss a given topic. Last week, on the 25th of July at five in the afternoon, I participated in NT chat, which is a weekly chat for new teachers. During this chat, I mostly just followed what the others were talking about, but I also posted a few ideas of my own. The topic of the conservation was mostly about lesson planning, but did venture into other topics as well, such as adopting technology in the classroom and getting that first job.
Diigo is a social bookmarking tool, which allows you to easily post links on your homepage, which then allows others to go and see what links you have been saving. In this case, instead of following history teachers, I have sought out and followed teachers who are interested in incorporating social networking in the classroom. This was done in order to have different tools to go to when I want to look for different topics. Of course I could go to Diigo to search for history topics as well, but this makes it easier to know which site to go to in order to start. To broaden my PLN, I have also bookmarked Educational Wikis, Classroom 2.0, and Facebook in Education. All of these sites can be used to give me access to more information on using technology in the classroom.
By using the Educator's PLN site, I can view videos and blogs that other teachers have posted. On this site, I found a really cool use for a tool that I use every day. Skype, which I normally use to webcam my wife in Sweden, has a tool which allows classes from different countries to get together amd discuss certain topics. This could be great to learn first hand about other cultures, or do a language exchange with a class from Mexico.