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.

Kidblog Lesson Reflection

Blogging with Students

Whew… this has been a busy 3 weeks of blogging with my students.  Since my class has been busy getting ready for state testing next week, I will say that it’s been hard to find enough time in the day for all of my students to type their blogs into my 4 classroom computers.  Just today, I was able to get the last group of students on to post their blog.  As a result, I have put off the student evaluation until next week.

 Here are some things that went really well:

  • Using the YouTube video Blogs in Plain English by Lee LeFever sparked a great discussion about how blogs have changed the way that news travels. 
  • Creating a thought provoking blog post of my own was the spark that led to a great online discussion about technology. When my students posted a comment, it was important that I commented back to each student.  This is what helped keep a discussion going.
  • BrainPop’s lesson about blogs was another great way to give my students information about blogs.  The video was very informative & the graphic organizers that accompanied the lesson were very helpful.
  • As you probably saw from my video in the previous post, my students loved taking a survey of the class in order to determine their most popular blog topic.  This was a great way to get them excited about the topic that they were planning on writing about.
  • Having the class create a grading rubric together was a great way to let the students know exactly what is expected of their own writing.
  • Students love being able to get on the internet to see work that they produced.

Complications with the lessons:

  • It is extremely difficult to expect 32 students to get onto 4 working classroom computers to type in a blog post and comments.  In hindsight, next time I will give extra credit as an incentive for them to post their blogs at home or after school.
  • Students wanted to post pictures into their blogs, but weren’t given the resources to be able to quickly find copyright compliant pictures.  To help with this, I needed to create a Kidblog LiveBinder that had links to help them find pictures. I also had to do an extra lesson with my class to show them how to insert pictures into their posts.
  • Typing the blogs in took longer than I expected because most of my students do not have the proper typing skills. Without a computer lab at our school, we don’t have enough resources to give our students the technology training that they really need. I’m not sure exactly how to fix this.  Maybe I can add some typing program links to my classroom webpage.

Final Thoughts:

Even though I’m not completely finished with the evaluation part of my lesson, overall, I am very happy with classroom blogging.  Next time I will definitely start this towards the beginning of the school year when I know that I don’t have state testing to compete with my time.  I feel like my students are more excited about blogging than most of the writing assignments that I’ve given them this year.  I find that they are being more thoughtful in their journals and they are doing a better job self-editing.  If you’re a classroom teacher, I highly recommend that you try it with your class!  You’ll have some of your quietest students actively participating and joining in the discussions.