Personal Learning Network

Keeping up on education, your area of expertise, and the 21st Century Skills used to be a challenge. One of the most important things a teacher can do is start and maintain a Personal Learning Network (PLN). If you haven't heard that term yet, you will be inundated with it soon. Your PLN is your link to information, contacts, a network of global colleagues, etc.

After you get your feet wet, a possible next step is to join teacher networks like Classroom 2.0. There are a plethora of teachers/organizations who are sharing ideas in education and in technology in education.

Finally, join Twitter. I used to be avidly anti-Twitter . . . until I found out how teachers are using Twitter to exchange ideas, network, and connect. If you want the latest, greatest info on education, the best source is from the experts in the field. Twitter is the tool educators are using to do that. Joe Dale's blog Twitter for Teachers has some video clips that make the whole Twitter thing clear.

There are several tools available to manage Twitter so you don't get overwhelmed and lose yourself in Geekdom for hours on end. I highly recommend TweetDeck for your pc/mac - very functional desktop to manage your social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkIn, etc. I useTweetDeck on my iPhone. TweetDeck allows me to email links to someone I know who doesn't use Twitter. Once you get really rolling, you can peruse Top 20 Sites to Improve Your Twitter Experience and Your Favorite Education Twitter Hashtags

Just setting up a Twitter account doesn't quite get you where you want to be without knowing what to do and who to get information from. Shelly Terrell put together an amazing training video: How to Build A PLN Using Twitter.

From there, it's up to you. Be the model for your students. Don't expect them to try anything that you aren't willing to try yourselves. Don't just Talk the Talk - Walk the Walk. Move into the 21st Century with your students.

- John: excerpt from Personal Learning Network and 21st Century Skills