Personal Learning Networks … Clarence Fisher

networking

Personal Learning Networks … sharing, learning and collaborating

I am getting used to this blog thing. I have never really spent much time writing. Never kept a personal diary, didn’t write much in school, and whenever an assignment was due, I did whatever I could to keep it short and sweet. At times, I even begged my sister to do it for me….

Anyways, I introduced blogging to my classroom this year. My initial reason was to keep the parents informed. However, I found that my students used it way more than their parents did, so I changed my strategy a little and started to include more student-related stuff. This has definitely encouraged my class to keep in touch when they are at home. The idea of “staying networked” has taken off, with many of them checking in every night, leaving comments, and in a few cases, setting up their own blogs. This has in turn opened the door for a whole new area of learning – the idea of interacting online and how that affects the students personally. What are the advantages of interacting online? What are the disadvantages? What are the risks? Some really great discussion took place in our classroom last fall, as we got things off the ground with our class blog. It hasn’t stopped.

At this point, our blog includes the following components:

– a weekly overview (what is happening in the classroom)

– upcoming events

– a weekly riddle (which they love)

– a homework question which is linked to our current Unit of Inquiry (students respond in the comment box)

So, our classroom has set up it’s own little personal learning network …

Below, I have taken a few notes from Clarence’ s presentation. A reflection can be found below.

Clarence Fisher: Using blogs & RSS

* good point – free source of information compared to text books, also updated info

* personal space, type of community to share ideas, talk + grow

* feedback from people – admin, parents, students colleagues … positive and negative

* we aren’t teaching … we are guiding/mentoring

An interesting presentation which made me think a lot about the use of technology in the classroom, and how I currently struggle with some areas. We DO use it as a source for the most up to date information, but unfortunately our students (aged 10 & 11) get bogged down in the amount of information out there, as well as the language used. It is often very challenging finding information at their level, which doesn’t involve a lot of technical language. I wonder how RSS subscriptions (and this type of PLN) would work with them. I also wonder if there is someone out there gathering elementary-age feeds which can be shared easily. Maybe this is a task I will address sometime soon.

I also wonder how much my students would really use RSS feeds. Is someone out there blogging to their level? As RSS is a tool which is new to me (and I am still learning how to use it effectively), I need to think how it can be incorporated into my teaching.

My general feeling is that PLN (Personal Learning Networks) obviously give us access to information which textbooks can’t provide. Also, with younger students teachers must act “as connectors first and content experts second”, according to Will Richardson (World Without Walls). I couldn’t agree with this more. Rather than having students look at teachers as the primary source of knowledge, it is much more effective if we act as links to outside sources, networks, and learning communities.

Control is a question… where do you let go & what do you expose them to? The teacher acts as a model … and technology has to back this up. Use experts in the classroom. Put the kids in charge of extending each other once the initial “idea” has been introduced to them. Clarence mentioned all of this during his interview, and it made me think a lot. It also made me refocus my efforts at using technology in the classroom, as well as at home.

My goals? Well, I will spend some time extending my own PLN, and then gradually introduce this idea to my Grade Fives. We already have the basic idea in place with our Class Blog, and it is obvious the students want to be “networked”. So, the idea will be to develop it from here. RSS is a very useful tool, and I think I just need to have a play with it and locate some sources for them which they will not only find useful, but interesting. I can’t wait ….

Anyways, I plan to use the online tutorials created by Kim Cofino to introduce my students to this amazing concept. From there, we will see where it goes. I will keep you posted ….

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~ by yamaguru on February 5, 2009.

One Response to “Personal Learning Networks … Clarence Fisher”

  1. Great to hear about how your using blogging in your classroom – and how it has developed into something different than you initially expected. Being open to different results is probably the most important aspect of learning with digital tools.

    I know there are a bunch of grade 5 students blogging around the world. What about if your students started connecting with them? Forming a personal learning network of their peers – just to see what it’s like? You could have them put some students from other schools in their RSS reader to see what those students are talking about. If your class is well connected, age-appropriate online sources may end up coming through their PLNs, in which case all of the students can learn from each other!

    I can’t take credit for the screencasts – they’re from YouTube 🙂

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