In many ways, contribution to, cultivation and use of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) has become so ingrained in my ongoing reading habits and professional development throughout the COETAIL program that I don’t know how much detail to go into or where to begin. I think will try to discuss my engagement in the online educational universe by focusing on my contributions to it, how I used tools to steer information I want to myself, and positive interactions I have had within this professional realm.
I see my main contributions to my PLN in the form of my three blogs:
Through these blogs I have also had at times sustained interactions through comments. In addition I have commented on the blogs of others in my COETAIL and SPELTAC courses.
I have also added to a number of Google+ communities. For example, I created a community that I shared with members of my school community about approaches to spelling instruction. It has however failed to attract too much discussion, despite having 11 members.
When I was granted funding to attend the 2017 EARCOS Teachers’ Conference, I also added information about the conference and my blog posts regarding it to our ISPP Staff – Whole School Exchange Google + Community.
My use of Twitter has increased tremendously over the course of my COETAIL experience. When I began the course back in February 2016, I had made a total of about ten Tweets, mostly concerning the band that I was performing in. I had used Twitter to market our events.
A year later, I have made about 360 Tweets, most of which share information about an interesting article I have read, interesting reTweets from people I follow, tech tips, recommendations about podcasts, or information that I personally have to share.
I have also tried to Tweet about topics that I know my colleagues would be interested in. For example, when I attended the EARCOS conference, I made daily Tweets about the courses I attended and the keynote speakers.
I have also gained 183 followers and am following 213 people. Many of these people are people I have encountered as a result of my COETAIL experience, but I have made contact with others through a variety of manners.
HOW I HAVE USED TOOLS TO MAXIMISE THE UTILITY OF MY PLN
To get the most out of Twitter, I use Tweetdeck. I have organised my Twitter feed into the following columns: Home (for all Tweets), COETAIL Online 6 (for all members of my Cohort 6), COETAIL.com (for all COETAIL facilitators and students), Likes (to find easily Tweets that I have liked – for easy access and remembrance), Cambodian News (to keep track of frequently volatile and under-reported Cambodian current events), Followers (to keep track of what people who follow me Tweet), and Messages (to keep track of direct messages between me and other Tweeters). In my time off this summer, I want to refine this list and create a few more columns perhaps based around more exact lists. For example, I would like to create a list of Tweeters I follow who discuss Virtual Reality, as this an area of burgeoning interest for me. I would also like to create lists and columns that deal in particular with how to maximise use of Google Apps for Education.
I have also cultivated my online interests using netvibes. I have diversified much more in this app where I have created dashboards for COETAIL blogs AND COETAIL comments (this helped me make sure to give even coverage to my reading and responding to different bloggers), Minecraft related blogs, Music and Ed Tech blogs, SPELTAC blogs and comments, and all my favourite podcasts.
I plan to spend some time this summer culling some of the content from my Netvibes (as I am constantly requested to do Spring cleaning by the app itself). I will cut out the content sources that do not post regularly.
Jeff Utecht’s Nuzzle Newsletter
Another useful tool I have found for getting the kind of content I am interested in passed to me is Jeff Utecht’s Nuzzle Newsletter. This newsletter, and its advice to “Take time to read one article a day and you’ll be a better teacher because of it,” has really helped me as the amount of work due this year has been ratcheted up. Subscribing to the newsletter and having it appear in my email has helped me at least read one or two articles that directly affect my teaching by giving me ideas and new outlooks.
POSITIVE INTERACTIONS OVER MY PLN
At this point I have had so many positive interactions as a result of my PLN. However, by and far my most extensive collaborations with other teachers have involved work I have done with Ms.Tara Barth. Although I have detailed the first time we and our classes collaborated in this blog post, our communication first started on Twitter.
As a result of all these Twitter chats, we worked together on a series of shared Voicethreads related to some online communities our first graders were inquiring into.
This year Tara and I also had “Mystery Skype” sessions using that platform between our classes in Cambodia and Columbia.
In the future I want to continue to explore the possibility of connecting with other educators over Skype in the Classroom for further collaborations.
I also want to try and interact more within and beyond my PLNs. I focused on lurking and contributing during this year and a half of my COETAIL learning, but I need to get more personalised and reach out to many of the experts I have been learning from.