Educators across the world are working in unique conditions and with a variety of different backgrounds and experiences. Yet they all have the same goal: to increase student achievement through the improvement of their own professional practice. But how can such a diverse group address this common goal in an efficient and meaningful way? There is a increasing demand for individualized and differentiated professional development to ensure continued professional growth.
Online Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) offer educators the ability to organically develop or extend their existing learning networks. Importantly, these PLCs are cultivated by individual teachers, giving the communities the focus and flexibility needed to help ensure individualized success.
Through the use of tools such as Twitter, Google Reader, RSS and blogs, teachers can access up-to-date and relevant resources and experiences that have been filtered and vetted by their own network. The benefits from this steady stream of professional conversations are immense: exposure to different perspectives; the opportunity for global collaboration; access to experienced practitioners; the encouragement of self-reflection and sharing; a commitment to the ideals of lifelong learning. The continued development of online Professional Learning Communities exemplifies the attributes of the Learner Profile and fosters holistic learning, intercultural awareness, communication.
By now we’ve all heard of Twitter. But how many of us are using it to its full potential to help us cultivate our growing professional learning networks? Below are some resources and tips on how to get the most out of Twitter.
Twitter4Teachers – An overview into the ways teachers can use Twitter for PD, this is a great starting point for any educator.
Jess McCulloch‘s wiki Step into Asia has a number of video tutorials and intros to different aspects of Twitter, together with some 20 second Twitter Stories from people in her PLN about why they’re on Twitter.
Hashtags – #ibap #MYP #PYP #learning2 #edchat #scichat #mathchat #kinderchat These are all examples of hashtags. Hashtags make it easy to group and search for tweets about a specific topic. Using a Twitter client like Tweetdeck, you can even use a hashtag to create an easy-to-follow column in your client. @cybraryman has a comprehensive list of education-related hashtags.
There are tons of guides and resources out there for you to use while continuing to develop your Twitter presence. Of course, the greatest one in my opinion are the people on Twitter themselves. Sue Waters (@suewaters) has written a very comprehensive guide to All Things Twitter. Edudemic (@edudemic) has a couple of posts on hashtags and on Twitter in Education. There is also a Twitter4Teachers wiki where you can add your Twitter name to lists of teachers in the same subject area or grade level.
RSS in Plain English is a great video to show the basics of how RSS (Really Simple Syndication) works, how to subscribe to blogs and how to populate your Google Reader.
Google Reader allows users to share their favorite blogs in a variety of ways: by email, as a list of blogs on a website, or as blog bundles. Blog bundles are a great way to discover new blogs or to quickly share your favorite blogs with your colleagues. Here are some bundles that I have created in using Google Reader:
- Educational Leadership
- Technology Facilitators, Integrators and Directors
- Teacher Pedagogy and Reflection
- PYP Teachers
Xavier McKenzie created this Prezi as an explanation of what Diigo can do.