Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Concept

Here's a new concept, taken again from the writings of David Warlick. He uses the term "personal learning network" in reference to the connections and learning that are accomplished when you use the web for your own personal learning through the use of technologies such as blogs.

But, I got to thinking about the potential of developing a personal learning network, not just for me, but for our students as well. Only 10 years ago, my personal learning network probably only consisted of my grade level colleagues, members of courses I was taking for my Master's degree and any professional literature I was reading at the time. Now, my personal learning network is populated by professional literature in print as well as on the web, the blogs I read, email that I get from other people, my immediate co-workers, the teachers I work with each day, Janie Pollock [of course!] and my administrative acquaintances. My personal learning network is the people and resources that I can learn from. It should be fluid and changing with the kinds of information that I'm interested in. All of the pieces of my personal learning network do not work together but interact as needed and some of those pieces will drop off in time. For instance, in my quest to learn more about blogs, I began by reading David Warlick's blog. On his "2 Cents Worth" he lists other blogs that he interacts with and that interact with him. I used those links to learn more about blogs but they all took me another step further into other areas of technology of which I was unaware. From some of those blogs, I learned a lot and I continue to read the ones that intrigue me and that provide me with additional professional support. From others, I check in once in a while but, since they no longer contain any new information that I'm looking for, they have been all but eliminated from my personal learning network.

I really like this concept for our students as well. As teachers, we tend to build learning networks for our students don't we? In some of our classrooms, the learning network consists of the textbook, the other students in the room and the teacher. That's pretty limited in relation to the resources and information that are available within a few clicks of the mouse. What can we as teachers do to help our students develop the skills necessary to create their own learning networks?

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