Monday, December 21, 2009

Networked Learning for Teachers

Stay Connected

The recognition of the importance of computer technology for teachers has grown steadily in the last few years.  The  Technology standards for language teachers from TESOL (Teachers of English as a Second Language) are a prime example. Actually these goals and standards could easily apply to teacher in all fields  See if you agree.  The goals  are to have teachers:
  • Acquire and maintain foundational knowledge and skills in technology for professional purposes.
  • Integrate pedagogical knowledge and skills with technology to enhance (language) teaching and learning.
  • Apply technology in record-keeping, feedback and assessment.
  • Use technology to improve communication, collaboration and efficiency.
How can teachers educate themselves to meet these goals? Social (educational) networking is one of the most convenient and up-to-date ways.  I remember the days when acquiring new knowledge meant  finding the right articles or books from which to glean information.  This usually entailed a trip to the university library to checkout books or feed the copier all your quarters to copy article from journals.

Today learning can mean finding relevant information from reliable online sources, reflecting on it, sharing the new, personal insights gained, receiving feedback and comment from interested parties and then responding to this feedback with new insights. Steven Downes discusses the importance this type of self-directed learning in his video,  Web 2.0 and Your Own Learning and Development.

Finding reliable sources can be accomplished by starting and nurturing a good personal learning network (PLN).  Personally I find that my own PLN is always in state of flux.  I continually add and delete rss feeds to edublogs in my Google reader, follow and "unfollow" people on Twitter, and check my Yahoo and Ning groups.  I don't stop following others because any of their ideas  are irrelevant, but because there is no way to keep up with all the good learning and sharing opportunities today.

I am in the process of deciding which sources in my PLN I want to keep.  It's really a tough decision, but if I want to reflect on what I read, I need to have a manageable set of items.  I hope that this "weeding out" of my PLN will allow me more time to digest and comment on what others say  and to share my own ideas with them.

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