Personal Learning Networks, what are they? Before this class, I knew of one, only because my school had made all the teachers join (see below). Social networks? I know what those are! I’ve been using them for a while. I’m a pro at Facebook! Before I started the ETEC program, it didn’t dawn on me to use social media for educational reasons. But what a great idea! So what makes Personal Learning Networks different from social media sites?
To see if they are different, we need to define each. Social media is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).” In short, it’s a way for us to stay in touch with each other through various mediums on the Internet. Social media sites like Facebook and Google+ are predominantly used for personal reasons. People who want to stay in touch with grandma in Ohio or college roomies making plans for the weekend, are the mainstay of the Facebook users.
For me, a Personal Learning Network is a bunch of sources (people, webtools, social media sites) that you can utilize to continuously learn and expand professionally. This is a wonderful resource for me because I can tap into other teachers for their opinions and ideas. This also creates opportunities to collaborate with peers on papers or lessons that can be used toward professional development. I was introduced to http://www.successfulpractices.org/spn/ a few years ago. The staff at my school called it Facebook for teachers. When we went through the training, I saw similarities to Facebook, but there were more differences. This was no place to put your vacation photos. This was a smorgasbord of ideas, lesson plans, research stats, and more! So, a PLN has collaborating, learning, teaching, through a social media.
To state what we have now learned, there is no difference between the social media and a PLN. A PLN needs a social media to just exist. I have issues with this conclusion. For me, a PLN seems to be a social media site just used for educational purposes. Anyone else agree? Let’s take a look at Edmodo, a popular PLN. It looks almost exactly like Facebook. There are times when my daughter is on it; I start yelling because I think she is not doing her homework. Haha, joke’s on you, mom. (I didn’t think it’s funny.)
In an effort to see if I could find more about PLN’s, I decided to check out edcanvas and Pinterest.
Edcanvas (http://www.edcanvas.com) is a way to weave a series of videos and pictures together to tell a story. By story, I don’t mean like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I mean it is a visual way to get your message across. You just have to type in your subject matter, and edcanvas searches YouTube for related videos and Google for images. What a way to get your students sucked in! But it’s not just for your students; it can be for professional development, as well. I found a canvas that had tutorial videos for Powerpoint alternatives (http://www.edcanvas.com/lessons/CL4rHqwiFUPd8A/powerpoint-alternatives). Yes, I could have found all these videos at their individual websites, but someone was nice enough to put them in one place for me to view. Teachers can post their videos and pictures to support lessons that were taught in class. Other teachers can post their canvases and get feedback. Brilliant! (Rating 5/5)
Pinterest (http://pinterest.com) is not just for recipes and ways to get your body into shape! You can come here to get so many ideas for your classroom! Classroom management, language arts lesson plans, science experiments, blogs to follow, edtech tools you can use for your students… I could go on and on and on. Pinterest has to be one of the biggest idea vaults for you tap into. You can start your own board and pin articles, videos, and pictures. You can share your board with others who have the same interests. People can follow you and you can follow them. The resource seems to have no end! I wanted to spend hours and hours on here. Too bad real life got in the way! (Rating 5/5)
It seems like after this research, a PLN doesn’t seem to be that big of a mystery to me. As I stated previously, social media got me ready for a PLN. Now if I can harness all the various resources out there on the internet for educators, it looks like I may have a chance at putting together a solid PLN for myself.
Please check out my Voicethread presentation.
“Edcanvas | The Best Way to Teach with Digital Content.” Edcanvas. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Aug. 2013.
Fernholz, Scott. “PowerPoint Alternatives.” Edcanvas. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Aug. 2013.
“Pinterest.” Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Aug. 2013.
“Social MediaAbout Our Definitions: All Forms of a Word (noun, Verb, Etc.) Are Now Displayed on One Page.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 06 Aug. 2013.