Personal Learning Networks: Developing Leadership and Technology Skills

Question for ISTE Standard 5: How can I exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion and developing the leadership and technology skills of others?

I am convinced that Twitter as my chosen technology for this standard would be a beneficial resource to use with my students. There are many possibilities to integrate Twitter into the classroom. As I read through the articles and researched the educational uses of Twitter, I still didn’t have a good vision of how Twitter worked. I knew that it would help students be engaged and interested in learning, but was unsure how to manage or facilitate the “freedom”.

In Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America, by Allan Collins and Richard Halverson, they suggest “putting learners in charge of their learning, so they feel ownership and can direct their learning where their interests take them”.  Definitely the direction I wanted to take using Twitter. They took it in an entirely new direction by proposing to “develop national certifications that can be administered on computer or by assessors at any school or learning center.” (Collins & Halverson, 2009) The new educational structure they suggest would allow students to choose from a menu of learning opportunities and also to learn at their own pace.

This is a completely different approach to today’s educational system. Washington State Legislature has passed a requirement for schools to increase seat time from 1000 hours to 1080 hours (which can mean 11-12 days a year). Schools are working toward increasing the hours but have until the 15-16 school year to meet the requirement. Where one would automatically think that more time in school would increase learning, in my opinion, that is dependent on the course content and learning that is happening. If we just stretch our time and don’t add content and deeper ways of understanding information than that time is wasted. Becoming an effective teacher is crucial to increasing student learning.

What I do know and understand is that I need to expand my Personal Learning Network (PLN) to be a effective teacher.  Sarah Hall stated in her post that with her organization (NCTE) she was able to create a profile, and could search for other members with similar interests. Her organization allows users the ability to create Networks or join Groups, which is a rich PLN for her subject area. I have used several organizational memberships (ISTE, ASCD, CSTA, ACM) as well as internet publications (Tech and Learning, SmartBrief on EdTech, ASCD SmartBriefs)  and Google Communities. Through these I have found resources, but trying to go back and review strategies and find information is hard to do. During our last “Hangout”, Dr. Wicks introduced us to #edchat through Twitter.  I had missed one of the best resources for my PLN, one that would increase my social learning connections, connect me to a greater array of ideas, and organize them for access.

I felt as though this was a way to also answer how to demonstrate a vision of technology infusion.  I found an article: Building a professional learning network on Twitter, by Tom Whitleby which repeated much of what Dr. Wicks stated but also emphasized several of the ideas.  He states “Building a PLN consisting of quality educators, who responsibly share quality information and sources, takes time and requires a plan. It is my belief that the people you follow are far more important than those who follow you……It is created and maintained to provide you sources and that only comes from those who you follow. “ I revisited the people I follow and a wealth of information and connection on topic areas I find interesting.

Our demonstration on #edChat was enlightening, I found information on its uses through The Educators PLN website and found a forum group created by Shelly Terrell, to extend the discussion of #edChat topics. The discussion forum meets on Tuesdays and excited to participate, their video is below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuIxpz6UklE?feature=player_embedded&w=640&h=360]

I believe this is definitely a resource to help me become a more effective teacher. It will also allow experience with Twitter so that I have a better understanding of how I can incorporate it into the classroom.

Whitby, T. (Ed.). (2013, January 11). Building a professional learning network on Twitter. Retrieved December 6, 2014, from http://smartblogs.com/education/2013/01/11/twitter-strategy-101/

Terrell, S. (2009, August 18). Edchat. Retrieved December 6, 2014, from http://edupln.ning.com/group/edchat

Collins, Allan & Halverson, Richard (2009) Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. New York: Teachers College Press

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.

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2 Comments

  1. hallsa5 December 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Shannon,

    Your enthusiasm for Twitter, and technology in general, is inspiring! I have appreciated your work and your research all quarter and see you as a leader, someone to trust. I was skeptical about Twitter until I read your Google post, and now I’m even more intrigued. Simple statements like “the people you follow are far more important than those who follow you” make me do a mental head slap. Social media intimidated me because I would worry about what I was going to say–but it’s not about me, it’s about learning and being better for the students. My opinion of this resource has changed and I’m looking forward to using it in a variety of ways.

    In regards to seat time, I absolutely agree with you; we need to better use the time we have and become effective teachers to increase student learning. We will waste that extra time if we don’t. It always interests me when decisions like these are made. What is the logic behind that decision? Who decided? The idea of the structure of education changing is scary but incredibly exciting because it means more opportunities for diverse learners. Perhaps there will be different styles of high schools and students will get to choose their own environment entirely.

    I hope your PLN is helpful! Thanks for the great resources and insight!

    Sara Hall

    Reply
  2. broughtonc December 9, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Hi Shannon,

    I enjoyed reading about your PLN. Even though I have not yet used Twitter, it sounds like an excellent resource for older students to guide their learning. I agree with Sara that I was skeptical about Twitter until I was exposed to your Twitter enthusiasm (and Dr.Wicks’).
    Also, I had not heard that Washington Legislature added school hours/days starting next year! I agree with you that adding more time is only beneficial if the learning and intentionality is there.

    Thanks! Enjoy your winter break!

    Callie

    Reply

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