The Power of the PLN

These 2 images of Alec Couros’ never cease to amaze me. Quite often just the networked teacher image is shown in isolation, but I feel that the power of these images works best as a pair. For when you compare the opportunities of the second image to those of the first, who in their right mind would opt for being a just a typical teacher.

Typical Teacher Network

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by courosa:

The networked teacher

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by courosa:

Recently I had the pleasure of being the tutor for the EDUC3625: Numeracy and ICT across the Curriculum topic at Flinders University. In one of our later workshops, we spent a session looking at the benefits of being a networked teacher, and how to go about starting your own PLN.

Over the last few years I have participated in this workshop virtually, being one of the online mentors who engages with the students as they take their first steps into the world of Twitter. This year, in my new role as tutor, I wanted to call upon my own PLN to engage in a Twitter Chat with the students about the benefits they see as being connected educators. I wanted this to be not just “text book” style information about why Twitter is a great resource for educators, but a practical example with real life advocates on the benefits of having a PLN.

A little before the workshop I, along with other workshop tutors, put the call out to my PLN and the response was fantastic. I was thrilled to have such educators that I look up to, for example Brett Salakas (@MRsalakas) from AussieEd, Simon McKenzie (@connectedtr) and Andrew Woodman from the Futuristex Project (@futuristex). My biggest professional thrill came when Kathy Schrock (@KSchrock) also joined in the conversation after I tweeted to her.

Please have a read through the Storify of our Twitter conversation from this week. I think you will agree that this was a great opportunity for these students to connect with some amazing educators and was a great way to take their first steps in building their PLN.

Stepping into my digital footprint

This was the slide that did it…

slide from George Couros’ opening keynote: CEGSA2012

This slide was about a third of the way through the opening keynote presentation of CEGSA2012. I had spent the previous few months hearing my friend and conference organiser Tina Photakis talk about how fantastic George Couros, our opening keynote was going to be and had wondered how Twitter and other  web 2.0 “toys” could possibly change my professional life very much.

I love dabbling in technology – I already had a twitter account and followed some interesting famous people. I had a facebook account and had mucked around with a class blog at one stage too. In short I felt comfortable in this online world and it was a fun place to be. I was looking forward to hearing what this George Couros had to say but didn’t know if it would change what I was doing all that much.

From the start of the keynote my perceptions were challenged about why I was using this technology and what I was getting from the online world and giving back to it. This slide in particular made me challenge my thinking about my online presence and how it could be not only a source of entertainment but also tool for professional growth and development.

This slide inspired me to take charge of my digital footprint. Up until now it had been scattered – a dabble here, a play there – crazy dance-steps all over the digital floor with  nothing really being used to greater potential. My first move was to gather together all that I had been toying with and decide which were the main tools I wanted to focus on. I decided, for now, upon the 5 big ones: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and a WordPress blog. I have since added Pinterest too as the visual nature of it appeals to my photographic senses!

I then had to learn some new tools. From my work with the CEGSA blog I was familiar enough with the basics of WordPress and the others were fine too except for Twitter. People seemed to be able to do so much more with it and watching George negotiate his way through columns in TweetDeck made me see that there was a lot more too it than just reading other people’s 140 characters! So along came a TweetDeck account and now 12 (and occasionally more) columns later I have a much greater regard for this as a wonderful tool and how I can use it to learn and share with others.

So here I am, after a few months of getting myself organised and deciding how I wanted to approach my footprint, I have now arrived at the start of my digital journey. My digital presence goes by the name of JAKnipe – JAK of all trades ( I still like dabbling in lots of things and always will). The information that is readily found about me is information I have put there and there are no eggs or cartoon avatars in sight!