Social and Professional Learning Networks
One of the many places I turn to for professional development is Twitter. Through my Twitter network, I am able to find resources that I can use in my classroom. My Twitter friends are online for the same purpose as I am, and we can work together to solve the world's problems. Well, perhaps we are more limited in our scope, but I find it very useful to tweet a question when I am in need of advice. Many people post links to web sites for education that I would not find if I was searching the net on my own. Also, I can find out about current events in a very immediate manner. Nothing tells the story of breaking news better than the people actually witnessing and tweeting about an event.
Twitter can also be a distraction when I am trying to get work finished because I love to get involved in conversations. It is easy to get involved in a twitter conversation and lose track of time. I think this is a common problem for any person working online, whether they are a student or other professional. It is necessary to have discipline about using the Internet, and budge one's time wisely regardless of the assignment given.
Because my students are in elementary school, I am careful about the social networks that we use in the classroom. I have encouraged them to communicate with their classmates on Edmodo because it is a private area. Students asked each other homework questions and collaborated on projects this way. I believe it was very beneficial for them to have an area to communicate with each other, and it cut down on the number of repetitive questions asked in our classroom because students had already read our discussions online. I received a lot of positive feedback from students and parents regarding this learning technique. I plan to continue using it in the future.
The diagram below shows my own Personal Learning Network. It includes all of the places I turn to for help and/or support in my online community.