The Power of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

What is a PLN?

It’s my understanding that a PLN is an informal learning network that involves connecting with others who share similar interests. The way in which this happens is through social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, and RSS feeds.

Here’s a video that I found called Networked Student by Wendy Drexler. It explains how students can benefit from this type of networked learning:

LinkedInMy PLN Experience

As a teacher on a quest to continue learning about the growing, changing, and evolving topic of educational technology, I’ve made it a priority to stay connected to people and companies in this field on LinkedIn. I love how it allows me to showcase and link to projects that I’ve done. It also allows me to connect my blog page to my profile. Whenever I post on this PacadaVision WordPress page, I have it automatically set up to become a part of my activity in LinkedIn. Anyone in my network can link to my blog and, in turn, I can link to blogs of any of my connections. LinkedIn frequently sends emails of updates, so it’s easy to view changes and updates of people in my network. It’s amazing how I’ve learned all about new Web 2.0 tools and ed tech companies just by looking into information connected to my LinkedIn Network.

Introducing Social Media to the Classroom using KidBlog

Educator Studio KidBlog LessonPopularity of social media tells me that it is my responsibility as a teacher to get my students prepared to be a responsible participant by showing them a correct way to use it. KidBlog is my Website of choice in introducing social media to my students.

Last year was when I discovered this teacher moderated blog site. If you want ideas on how to get started using KidBlog, check out my EducatorStudio lesson plan.

I’m hoping to start KidBlog with this year’s class within the next couple of weeks. Last year I had students blogging about voice activated cars, saving the environment, dreams, the future, and many more interesting and though provoking topics. I’m curious to see what kind of topics this year’s class will come up with. If I can get my students excited and interested about popular topics, I can get my students to improve their writing while also giving them useful 21st century learning skills that will help them grow their own PLN in a positive way.

Goodbye iWeb, Hello WordPress!

No More iWeb

I really enjoyed making webpages with iWeb until… I received my new MacBook Pro and, realized that Apple is no longer making new versions of iWeb.  2 years of hard work and weekly updates had finally gotten me to a webpage that I was extremely happy with.  The themes and templates always inspired me to expand my page & do more, I loved the instant access to my iPhoto & media files, the simplicity of dragging and dropping files made for quick & easy updates.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my new computer, but I was still trying to use my old MacBook in order to keep my iWeb page alive.

Unfortunately, February was the last month that I was able to make any changes or updates.  Since I’ve been so busy with school, I didn’t even have time to look into the reason why I couldn’t update my page.  Was it because of the iWeb program, or was it a problem with my computer?  Instead of trying to figure it out, I decided it was worth my time to learn more about WordPress, especially since this Full Sail University EMDT program has had us start 2 blogs with it.

WordPress to the Rescue!

Thank goodness for WordPress & spring break!  Lucky for me, my school district’s spring break happened to fall on the same week as the Full Sail spring break.  My one goal for the week  was to re-create a webpage for my class.  Before I started the WordPress training at Lynda.com, I thought maybe I could just play around and find a kid friendly theme that I could be happy with. Here’s a screen shot of my 1st attempt at a webpage:

I liked the blue calming color & the rounded edge of the boxes and pictures, but I knew that I wasn’t completely satisfied with the page.  Maybe I couldn’t get past the lowercase letters in the title of my page.  (I did try changing it many, many times.)  I decided to keep it, for the time being.

Lynda.com Steps in to Help

Growing up with Apple computers (I think I was 6 or 7 when we had one of the first versions of the Macintosh computer), I’d become accustomed to learning through clicking & playing around with a program.  Even though WordPress was fairly easy to navigate through my click & play method, I was finding myself watching tutorial videos on YouTube.  Why didn’t I stop to think that Lynda.com would have a WordPress training video?

When I saw a Lynda.com assignment posted for my Emergent Technologies in a Collaborative Culture class, I realized that they did offer a WordPress training.  It was the perfect chance for me to learn the ins and outs of the site.  When I started watching information about changing the background, my first thought was to try and modify the theme that I already had chosen.

What I learned from the training:

As I got through watching more and more of the videos, I discovered that the Twenty Ten theme was equipped with the latest settings & features, and that it was easy to adjust and customize according to my needs.  Here’s what I ended up coming up with: http://mrspacada.wordpress.com/

The training also allowed me to learn about how each button works while inside the Dashboard of WordPress.  I now feel like I can navigate , my way through the admin side of WordPress with so much more ease.  Even though I haven’t done it yet, I’m sure that my students will be interested if I start adding polls to the page.  Maybe next week, we can come up with an idea for a poll, together as a class.  I’m sure they would be totally into that.

Things I love about this theme:

  • Customized photo of my students’ artwork
  • Background color to match image
  • Simple, sleek look

So far, I only have 4 pages, but I plan on expanding my webpage throughout the year.