After creating an image of my PLN on Monday, I was blown away when I realized how many of my sources that I turn to for help in developing myself as an educator come from the internet. As a teacher in this digital age, and one who has been living abroad for almost seven years, I have been deeply concerned that I won’t be able to keep up with the latest research or the newest, more effective tools for teaching or learning. Until this year, I have relied on quick conversations with my teacher friends in the states to hear what they were doing and to know what I should look more into. I ended up spending ridiculous amounts of money to ship professional books and DVDs that arrived weeks later. Now, there ARE better, cheaper, and much quicker ways to access the ‘latest and greatest’, globally.
This past Fall, I entered the world of online education and MOOCs. Let’s just say it was “love at first course”, even if it was for self-improvement. Since, I have discovered webinars, Twitter, and my new (fabulous) educational technology program at Michigan State. Feeling like a kid, thirsting for knowledge, I can’t get enough.
Starting out on Twitter, I felt that there was too much information to sift through and it was incredibly overwhelming, but I now have learned there are ways and strategies to keep yourself sane. On Twitter, I’ve created lists (Math, Literacy, Technology), so I can quickly see what’s being talked about by the gurus in those specific areas. I also learned about the power of hashtags: I didn’t know you could search for a specific topic by using special code words and find all related texts! #helpful #notscary. Finally, and probably most exciting for me regarding the hashtag, I have finally uncovered what a TweetChat is and how to aggregate the conversation using TweetDeck. #awesome
Using all of these online sources, I am relieved that I won’t be stuck in a time warp and be completely out-of-date if/when I return to the states because I feel that distance and location is no longer a factor in accessing information. This is all very new to me and I know there is still so much to learn, not only about this digital world, but also how to use it to grow to be a better teacher for my future classrooms full of kiddos that I care so much about.