Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What my PLN means to me

I just did a video to post to this wiki for Joyce Seitzinger from New Zealand (@catspyjamasnz on twitter and plurk)

Here are the questions I was supposed to answer and my prepared comments (not all of which came out the same way on video!)

• Who you are, where you are & what you do?
• How your PLN has affected your own learning?
• How your PLN has affected your practice?
• Something really neat you learned through your PLN recently
• Which tools you use in your PLN?
• How you use technology in your teaching or educational practice
• How you’re adapting your teaching or practice for the 21st century?
• Your most ‘fruitful’ connection made through your PLN
• Any words of encouragement for educators new to this 21st century, ‘techie’ way of teaching & learning

My name is Laurie Fowler and I am an assistant professor of instructional technology at the University of West Alabama in Livingston, Alabama. My learning has increased greatly through my involvement in a PLN. I learn all kinds of stuff from my PLN from personal information about their families to great web sites to use in class. In fact, when I introduce this concept to my classes I refer to it as BOTH a Personal and Professional Learning Network. In addition, my practice has changed because when I need to know something, I often ask my PLN before I Google for help. I have recently learned that Google Earth has added a Google Building tool which is very cool which I learned from a friend on Plurk.

For my PLN, I use two basic tools, Facebook is my primary Personal Learning Network and Plurk is my Professional Learning Network site. I also use Skype and Google Talk to communicate in real time with my online friends. I use technology every day since that is what I teach at the college level, but I also try to walk the walk by using technology to manage my time (Google calendar, Blackberry) and to communicate with others (email, instant messaging, blogging, and microblogging).

I am trying to focus more on the pedagogy that goes with the technology instead of just the tools. I do this because I know the tools will change, but good teaching really won’t change very much. We may have to change some of the media we use, but the basics of quality teaching will continue to be the foundation for success in education.

My most fruitful connection I have made with my PLN is hard to say. I learn tons from so many of my online buddies, but I think having two of my online buddies respond on my VoiceThread that I used in my interview to get my current assistant professorship was right up there with VERY fruitful. I presented the results of my dissertation research using VoiceThread and had responses from other technologists I knew in Alabama, but also from people from Illinois and Kansas that I know only through my PLN.

To all you educators, JUST DO IT! The 21st century tools are there to make education more engaging for you and your students. Give it a try and play around with the tools. That is the best way to “get it”!

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