Reflecting On My Social Network

on Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Over the past few months, I have been more aware of my social learning network--and I'm amazed to see how much it has grown. It's been about 1 1/2 since I started my blog and setup my feed reader, but I've never used them as effectively as I have over the past several months. I feel more connected with educators from around the world (even though I'm still shy about posting comments and tweeting), began to look at technology integration from multiple perspectives, and learned how to easily find answers to my question. Participating in a social learning network has helped me to stay up-to-date with best practices and the newest research.

I still have lots of room to grow, however. I'd like to spend the next few months becoming a better twitter user. I'm always amazed when I see other teachers sending out a tweet asking for others to provide resources or take time to read & respond to student work. Within a few moments, they receive the support they needed. However, I know building that type of strong network takes time and persistence. In other words, I need to start giving before I can receive (and I think my 1 and only tweet won't cut it).

As I continue to improve my PLN, I'm thinking more and more about how I can help my students develop and grow from a learning network. One of the key reasons I learn and grow so much as I read blogs, explore Diigo bookmarks, and skim tweets is that I am personally interested in the topics. I am usually seeking out the information because I want to know, not because somebody is telling me to do so. Will the fact that I'll be requiring my students to post on a discussion board or research a specific topic limit the power of their network? Will they have to wait until they are older (and can have more freedom online) before they see the true learning potential of the web? How do I balance developing social skills online with digging deeper into concepts? Clearly, I'm still a little uncertain about how social learning networks can be incorporated into K-12 schools.


Megan Fritz said...

About Twitter, you don't have to give first to receive. Start out by using it as a tool for professional development for you! I know you don't have time to watch the tweets all day during the day. Take time at the end of the day to skim through what has happened and then investigate what you think is interesting. Everyday, I find at least 1-3 things that I look into and bookmark! Also, download a twitter client that works for you so you have it on your desktop at all times. Here is a link to a great site which has many twitter clients listed. When you find the right one, let me know what it is! I'm using snitter and am ready for something different. You can just send out a tweet....I'll see it b/c I'm following you now. This way, when you tweet about the neat things happening in your classroom, I'll hear about that, too!

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