Sunday, October 24, 2010

6 Ideas for Developing a Personal Learning Network of Others Interested in Using Cell Phones in Education

While professional development and classes are a great way to learn, personal learning networks are quickly picking up momentum as the learning platform of choice for innovative educators and leaders. A personal learning network provides individuals with on-going, on-demand, personalized support anytime and anywhere they want it with others they meet in platforms such as twitter, Facebook, Classroom 2.0 or face-to-face. Because cell phones are banned in many schools and districts, it’s often difficult for educators interested in harnessing the power of cell phones in education to connect with others who share their interest. Here are ideas for getting started with developing your own personal learning network that will enable you and others to stay connected with the best ways to remain in-the-know about using cells for education.

Blogs
Read and comment on blogs that cover the topic of cell phones in education. As you come across blogs you like that cover this topic, add them to your Google RSS reader. In addition to The Innovative Educator, here are a few other blogs to get started. Twitter
Use Twitter to find others who are interested in the same topic. You can do this using search terms like education cell phones, mobile learning, phones education or this commonly used Twitter hashtag #mlearning. Once there identify Tweeps (Twitter Peeps) who are saying things you like and follow them, reply to them, or retweet what they are saying. When you have questions or want feedback about a particular topic, use “@” (example @innovativeedu) to tag this people in your Tweet and they’ll directly receive your Tweet. Twitter will instantly provide you with a terrific on-demand network just waiting to support your personal learning.

Facebook
Facebook is yet another great vehicle to expand your personal learning network about topics of interest. As you begin following blogs, Twitter, and meeting people face-to-face and at conferences who are are interested in the same topic, request their friendship on Facebook. Facebook provides some benefits over Twitter in that you can link to other web pages nicely and tag the people who you want to see it using “@” (example @Lisa Velmer Nielsen). All those tagged will have your post show up on their Facebook page and they can comment and see one another’s post. The makings for a great conversation indeed. Others who may be interested can also chime in.

Another option on Facebook is joining a page about an area of interest. Just type the topic in the search box and see what comes up. A page that exists for cell phones in education is Let Students Use Cell Phones to Learn (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Let-Students-Use-Cell-Phones-to-Learn/311313147415). On such pages you’ll see information about the topic and you can share posts, thoughts, and questions. Again, you can tag specific people if you want what you write to appear on their wall.

Classroom 2.0
Classroom 2.0 (http://www.classroom20.com) is a terrific resource with tens of thousands of members available all the time. Once there you can join the Cell Phones in Education group (http://www.classroom20.com/group/CellPhonesinEducation), start your own conversations, or join conversations of those already going on. You can also share any of these conversations on Classroom 2.0 with your Twitter network, Facebook network, as well as a number of other sharing platforms. Those you connect with here also become a part of your personal learning network. You can friend these folks on Classroom 2.0, follow their blogs if they have them, introduce them to yours (if you have one), and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and beyond.

Google docs
Google docs provides a collaborative environment that provides an amazing opportunity when combined with the power of your personal learning network to think, build and grow. I have had several instances where to grow and solidify my learning and knowledge, I have worked on creating a document. This could be a comparison chart, a curriculum map, a lesson plan, a collection of ideas, etc. While alone, I have some good ideas, when I invite my PLN to join me, we all grow and create together. To do this create a Google doc. Make it public and allow anyone with the link to edit. Then share what you are doing via a Tweet, status update, email, etc. Your learning partners will have the opportunity to learn and grow with you...and, don’t forget the chat feature available on the page, so you can communicate with your collaborators.

Face to Face
We all know the old fashion face-to-face connections work really well. The problem for some is finding others in their physical space who share their interests. Of course a solution is taking a class or attending a conference. Those of us who have had the pleasure of connecting in online environments appreciate, how such relationships can deepen and grow when face-to-face and online connections are married. When at a conference, I first ran into some of my PLN that previously I had only connected with online and we all commented on how lovely and powerful it had been to meet one anothers minds before seeing their faces. At the end of the conference, we knew we had many ways to keep the conversation going. All this to say that face-to-face connections and learning are powerful and the learning can continue anytime/anywhere with online platforms.

If you’re ready to begin building your personal learning network of others interested in using cell phones in education, pick one or two of these ideas and get started. When you do, not only will you learn a lot, but you will also contribute to the learning of others as well.
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