Posts Tagged ‘PD’

It looks fairly simple: a plea by someone and then a reply by another:

Thu 03 Feb 13:53 – Help librarians. I need to put together a 50 minute session for Year 12 IB students on Internet, research and study skills. #vicpln #edtech

Thu 03 Feb 14:20 – @megsamanda Start local, go global. So school resources, area resources (public libs),globalrescs (wiki, goog, worldcat) GL! #vicpln #edtech

Thu 03 Feb 15:45 – @MentoneMif thanks for your help…anything else you would recommend? #vicpln #edtech

Thu 03 Feb 16:42 – @megsamanda Goog wonderwheel for narrowing searches? #vicpln #edtech

If you still need to be convinced about the value (read power) of Twitter, then consider what happened to me this afternoon.

I logged onto Twitter to just have a look around.  I saw the reply from @MentoneMif on one of the hashtags – #vicpln –  I regularly follow.  Intrigued by the content of the tweet, I scrolled through my nicely organized TweetDeck lists and saw the plea for help from @megsamanda just 30 minutes earlier.  Satisfied that I couldn’t add much more to the succinct reply by @MentoneMif I continued scanning through #edtech.   Many tweets later I spotted the thanks from @megsamanda with the tag question of anything else recommended.  Just an hour later @MentoneMif suggests wonderwheel.

This is the point at which I very unexpectedly achieve a short powerful lesson about yet another amazing ‘tool’ that is out there in cyberspace just waiting to be utilized!  Wonder wheel is amazing!  A fantastic tool for helping to suss out resources for research or just general learning.

I found it a little convoluted to locate though.  Not sure why.   These directions should help.

Go to the Google page > Enter ‘google’ into the search bar > Select ‘More search tools’ from the left menu panel > Select ‘WonderWheel’

While enjoying the wheel of wonder be sure to look at the websites listed on the right hand side. They contain much info.  I ran three searches: cyclone > cyclone definition > cyclone verses hurricane

Cyclone 1

Cyclone Definition 2

Cyclone vs Hurrican 3

Little did these two people know that they were ‘educating’ a third along the way.   Because I enjoyed my discovery so much I of course re-tweeted @MentoneMif’s tweet adding my own take – Fabulous resource! To ensure a larger audience, I added additional hashtags:

RT @MentoneMif @megsamanda Goog wonderwheel for narrowing searches? #vicpln #edtech #elearning #edchat – Fabulous resource!

Who knows how many more people may now discover this resource.  Go Twitter!!

**Thanks @MentoneMif and @megsamanda for permission to publish your tweets.

Since publication of this post, Wonder Wheel was decommissioned by Google.  Fortunately though, due to popular demand perhaps, this great tool has been reinvented as Contextural Targeting Tool and is now available for users.

This post was the impetus for a longer article which was published by TLN (Teacher Learning Network) in May 2011.  While a copy of this article is no longer available online, the full text of the article can be read below:

The Power of Twitter!  Bev Novak

The truth is out:  I’m a recent convert to all things “Webish”!!  I’d never have thought it possible.   No way!!

Back then, in my ‘other’ life, I was busy enough.  I worked a full week in schools, attended PDs, tried to keep up with the latest by reading journals and constantly kept my ear to the ground.  Yes, like you, I read and  heard and listened to others speaking about ICT and how we should embed this into the curriculum.  I played with bits and pieces of it myself, but time was short and ….. well ….. I don’t have to tell you the rest.  You know how it goes.  There’s just so much to do and just not enough time to do it all!

But then – my life changed!  Midway through 2010, I enrolled in a 12 week online mentored PD which sounded interesting.  It seemed to cover lots of cool tools, ones referred to as Web 2.0.  Some of them I’d heard of, others were out of my league.  The program was to be self paced.  I could do as little or as much as I liked.  And best of all, I could log into this program from home which meant my focus wouldn’t be distracted by work related issues.  I read that the content of the program would cater for the beginner as well as the experienced.  ‘What did I have to lose?’ I thought.  Little did I know that my participation in the VicPLN program was about to change my life forever!  And now, for me, there is no looking back.

While it seems hard to believe that it’s possible to learn much by just sitting at your computer in your own home, the reality is that you can and you do!  While I’ve gotten hooked on a host of different and diverse paths over the last few months, one of the most powerful tools I’ve encountered is Twitter.

It’s amazing!  Really!!!  And best of all, it is one of the most powerful tools around for self paced ‘learning’.

Yes, I admit that it took me a while to figure out how to use this new tool.  It’s different to email and is nothing like Facebook.  I struggled, read articles and ‘how to’ manuals and asked others heaps of questions along the way.

So what changed?  What got me hooked?  What brought me to the point that I now argue the case for Twitter with seasoned computer gurus who spend countless hours exploring all manner of information out there in cyberspace on a daily basis?   Some time down the track, I now recognize that my adoption of Twitter was three fold: readiness, a shift in my thinking paradigm and finally the virtual people I met up with along the way who now figure as invaluable members of my Personal Learning Network.  If interested I’ve written about this metamorphosis in some detail in one of my blog posts (yes – I’m now an addicted blogger too!!): Twittering to my heart’s content!

Just a few short weeks ago, when I signed onto Twitter, I was hit by a most powerful example of how valuable Twitter is as a resource for sharing, for assisting and for teaching/learning.

To understand the conversation I saw, you, the uninitiated, need only know that when you sign up to Twitter you are required to create a username.  Mine is novanews19.  When someone wants to ‘talk’ or ‘tweet’ to me or about me they add the @ sign before the username.  If those tweeting want to share information with others about a particular topic, a hash tag symbol – # – and the agreed or used tag is included in the tweet.  #edtech for example is comprised of lots of people who are interested in technology in education.

The conversation I saw on Twitter which blew me away, was an exchange between @MentoneMif and @megsamanda.  It  looked fairly simple: a plea by someone and then a reply by another.  As you read their conversation, check the times that the tweets were posted.  This will give you a feel of the speed with which information is shared on Twitter.

Thu 03 Feb 13:53 – Help librarians. I need to put together a 50 minute session for Year 12 IB students on Internet, research and study skills. #vicpln #edtech

Thu 03 Feb 14:20 – @megsamanda Start local, go global. So school resources, area resources (public libs),globalrescs (wiki, goog, worldcat) GL! #vicpln #edtech

Thu 03 Feb 15:45 – @MentoneMif thanks for your help…anything else you would recommend? #vicpln #edtech

Thu 03 Feb 16:42 – @megsamanda Goog wonderwheel for narrowing searches? #vicpln #edtech

This was the point at which I very unexpectedly achieved a short powerful lesson about yet another amazing ‘tool’ which is out there in cyberspace just waiting to be utilized!  Wonder wheel is amazing!  A fantastic tool for helping to suss out resources for research or just general learning.  (If you too are interested in exploring Wonder wheel, just open Google and select the ‘More search tools’ tab on the left hand menu.)

Little did these two people know that as they exchanged thoughts and ideas they were ‘educating’ a third along the way.  Because I enjoyed my discovery so much, I re-tweeted @MentoneMif’s tweet adding my own take – “Fabulous resource!” And to ensure that this information was shared with a larger audience, I added additional hash tags:

RT @MentoneMif @megsamanda Goog wonderwheel for narrowing searches? #vicpln #edtech #elearning #edchat – Fabulous resource!

Like many others, I too doubted the relevance of this communication tool and doubted that it had much to offer me.  Taking the time to explore, learn and discover though has opened a new world to me.  While I just happened to spot this exchange between @MentoneMif and @megsamanda on this day, this kind of interaction is frequent on Twitter.   The air of collegiality and support that is out there in cyberspace is quite overwhelming.

Information and resource sharing occurs constantly on Twitter.   It is common to see a question such as that posed by @megsamanda and to read several others responding with ideas, guidance or websites that will educate and explain.

The fact that tweets are restricted to 140 characters is a real plus.  Instead of rambling on, giving lengthy opinions or long explanations, tweets are short and succinct.  Being forced to focus on the kernel of the issue ensures that time poor readers are fed exact, precise and ‘on track’ information.

Twitter has grown tremendously since it first came on the scene.  Its adoption has been expansive.  Professionals in all walks of life have been drawn to the power of this form of communication.  Its use in the field of education is increasingly blossoming among both educators and our students both in and out of the classroom.

Taking a first step into cyberspace can be daunting.  Taking a risk and exploring the new is also scary.  But taking that first step and having a peek to see what is ‘out there’ can be life changing.

Take little steps at the start.  Go to the Twitter  website, select the ‘sign up’ tab and complete the registration.  No idea who to start following?  Find someone you know and have a look at who they follow.  Read a few of their tweets, then start following them. Start following topics that are of interest to you.  Read the tweets of those that follow these topics.  Follow up on links included in the tweets so that you start to experience the value of the sharing that occurs in the Twitterverse (the Twitter Universe).  Install TweetDeck a browser for managing your tweets.  This will help make sense of the constant stream of tweets that flow into your account.    Don’t forget: the more people you follow the more tweets will stream into your account.  You can only truly evaluate the value of Twitter once you have accrued a reasonable amount of ‘traffic’, so aim to follow around 50 as an initial target.

Some of these sites may also be of value as you traverse this new world.

The remarkable power of Twitter  by Jeff Goldstein

Twitter – A teaching and learning tool 

Take time and enjoy!  And most of all, share your discoveries on Twitter so that others can learn from you.  Before you know it you will have a stream of tweeps (people who use Twitter) following you!

The author expresses thanks to  @MentoneMif and @megsamanda
for permission to include their tweets in this article.

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It’s that time of year for me ….. tidying up loose ends and making sure all my records are in order.   I’ve been busy updating the list of PDs I’ve attended over the last couple of years, checking that I’ve got course titles and descriptions properly documented.  It’s one of those jobs I’d meant to stay on top of along the way ….. but ….. well ….. you know how it goes ….. the ‘I’ll do it tomorrow syndrome’ stepped in rather heavily, the requirements for documentation got tightened up and I’ve now been running round in circles trying very hard to locate the bits and pieces of paper to corroborate my attendance at numerous presentations and conferences over the last few years –  all in an effort to ensure that I don’t go into a panic meltdown should I be asked to produce evidence of attendance!

Don’t get me wrong though.  I actually believe quite strongly that all professionals need to constantly upgrade their qualifications.  Requirements introduced by the VIT – the Victorian Institute of Teaching – the professional standards authority with which I must maintain current teaching registration if I am to retain my employability as a teacher in the State of Victoria – stipulate that I must complete a minimum of 100  hours of professional learning over a five year period – a very fair and reasonable requirement which should ensure that I stay in touch with current trends and developments in education.

It’s been an enlightening process though.  As I’ve trawled through program outlines, reams of handouts distributed and notes and reflections jotted on the day or soon after, I’ve found myself reflecting on the nature of sessions attended.   Some of the courses, presentations and day long conferences are very memorable.  Either the content or the presenter spring to mind as I skim through my notes.  But, it is quite striking that I also recollect conversations had with colleagues that run something like this:

Wasn’t the day really special!  The speaker was great ….. the ideas were really powerful.  But ….. I wonder if school practice will change as a result of today?

Sometimes there would be a variation of staff chatter over lunch or coffee breaks that ran something like this:

Wow!  That was fantastic!   It’s great to be able to spend the day focusing on x, y and z ….. but who has the time to put any of this into practice?   There’s no time to think, plan or vary what we do, so what was the value of the day’s program to me or to us as a staff?

It was a few months ago that I mentioned in a blog post about PLNs the shock I felt reading Peter Kent’s post “Want to be a great teacher?  Don’t go to PD”.  This blog made me question, probably for the first time, whether the many hours I’d spent at PDs had been a total waste of both time and money.   Back then, I rationalized that attendance at those PDs had been part of my life’s journey and as such were of value.

Now though, as I go through the process of pulling together documentation and revisiting PDs attended, I find myself reflecting on whether and  how my teaching practice and knowledge has altered, changed or grown. It has indeed been a startling discovery – one that has made me really question the nature of our professional learning.

While I’ve attended many outstanding presentations over the last few years, ones that have made me stop and think deeply about issues, it is without doubt that my professional knowledge and growth took a dramatic 180 degree turn by participation and completion of the 12 week online VicPLN program run by SLAV in conjunction with SLV.

What has been the difference between the VicPLN and other PDs attended?  Apart from being an active learner, one who learned by doing rather than passively sitting back and having the expert tell me how to do it, it has most definitely been the length of the program – long enough to both explore and digest changed practice – as well as constant engagement with others on our joint learning path, those many members of my PLN who have encouraged me to have a go, given me feedback, shared ideas and inspired the exploration of new ideas.   My ever growing PLN continues to inspire me long after the formal completion of the course and this inspiration sits within me, ensuring that the more I learn, the more I want to learn, thus joining the ranks of ‘lifelong learners’!

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Just a few short months ago I had trouble remembering the acronym PLN let alone understanding the concept.  I had absolutely no appreciation of how a PLN could benefit me nor how I could contribute to that of another.   Interestingly, my lack of knowledge ensured that I had absolutely no expectations.

So what have I gained?

Well … ‘friendship’ comes to mind.  It has been wonderful meeting so many people and linking up with some on an occasional basis and others on a more regular basis.  It feels a bit like being a member of a secret club where only us members have the warm fuzzy feeling of belonging to the group.

There’s also been lots of ‘sharing’.   To have others to share the highs and lows of new discoveries, newly acquired knowledge, new achievements and successes has been both reassuring and warmly satisfying.  I certainly never imagined that I would find a group of people with whom I could ‘share’ my ever spiralling growth.  Being able to give each other a pat on the back for milestones passed and goals achieved is certainly very worthy after the hours we’ve spent in the creation.

And how about ‘problem solving’?!  I’ve lost track of the number of confusing or sticky situations I’ve gotten myself into over the last few months.  Playing and learning certainly has resulted in some entirely confusing and seemingly insurmountable problems.  Unravelling the knots with the patient assistance of my PLN buddies and feeling their support along the way has been great!

Wow – who would believe it?!  I’m thrilled that I have connected up with so many amazing people!  My PLN is now established and as I start to link up with others further afield, I feel privileged to be in such a great learning, sharing and supporting group.

It’s a strange experience though, for bar just a couple, my ever growing PLN  is made up of ‘virtual’ people most of whom at the moment are defined in my mind by their avatar.   My PLN buddies are out ‘there’ wandering through cyberspace.  Every now and then we bump into each other.  Some drop into that safe and traditional spot – my email inbox.  Others appear at the bottom of my blog post.  And yet others call out to me from the warm fuzzy confines of Ning or the vast ocean of the Twitterverse.

The logical part of my brain says I want to band you all together and give out an instruction: “Let’s meet at such and such a spot on such and such a day so we can talk, chat, share, play, learn and explore together.”  But that same part of my brain queries whether this is the right way to go?

The PLN seems kind of nebulous.  It has no structure.  There is nothing definite about it.  It just kind of “is”.  And here I find myself making yet another new discovery, another new lesson learned.   The undefined structure of a PLN is indeed another of its features – albeit a hidden feature – which reveals itself more clearly as time goes by.

Although in broad terms there is a commonality of experience, the reality is that each of us has, does and will travel a different path.  While we all travelled the same path that was thrown down for us, some have gone along the straight and narrow while others have zigzagged along the way.  No two paths are exactly the same.  The common experience of learning and growing is what binds us all to be part of each other’s PLN.  Our individual differences make up the strength of our group, or, as commonly attributed to Aristotle and also deriving from Gestalt Psychology: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

At this stage, I’ve not read up much about PLNs.  I know there is heaps out there ’cause I keep finding links and stashing them in my ever growing Diigo bundle.   The titles of some of these sites are so startling that I stop and read them immediately.  Springing to mind is a post written by Australian Educator – Peter Kent –  who as a guest blogger on The Innovative Educator blogsite writes: “Want to be a great educator?  Don’t go to PD.” It incorporates a powerful video Escalator Problems which shows two people getting stuck on an escalator who wait and wait for someone to tell them what to do.  Underlining the waste of attendance at PDs, I found this to be a powerful visual.  – Thanks Penny for helping me find this when I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it! Ah the power of Twitter!! – Goodness … I wonder if the hours and hours accured at PDs over the years, let alone the volume of money spent on attendance has indeed been a waste.   But … I guess ….. that was then … and this is now.   Life after all is one long journey.

Obviously I’ve only recently discovered the power of PLNs.   Others before me have already explored these waters.   A research project presented by Dodie Ainslie seems to sum up my experience.  Meantime I look forward to this continuing chapter in my life!  And as I do, now seems like a good time to change the title of my blog.  Either continue or join me as I wander along my journey.

NOTE:  This blog post was subsequently published in FYI, The Journal of the School Library Association of Victoria. (Volume 14, Number 4, Spring, 2010)

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