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INDT 501 Week 5: Expanding My Personal Learning Network

This week in Instructional Technologies 501, I explored a variety of social networking sites, in addition to some handy applications I already use, like Google Reader. To keep things concise and because of amount of programs I would like to briefly cover, this week’s reflection will be more of an annotated list of greatest hits than a narrative.

  • First up this week is a nifty video maker that produces sounds & sights that are captivating and professional looking: Animoto. As for incorporating this tool in the classroom, I am currently working on a video that will introduce what life was like in Post World War II America. Hopefully, seeing pictures of the 19040 World’s Fair and the Futurama exhibit, accompanied by retro music will spark a curiosity about that period in history and have students excited to move forward through the unit. While I am using Animoto as an introduction to the material, it could also be used for review or to illustrate a small but important, detailed part of history, such as a particular battle. It could also be used to make an illustrative biographical sketch of a historical figure.
  • Next, I refined my LinkedIn profile and began to connect with classmates. LinkedIn provides an excellent opportunity to network and search for jobs.
  • In continuing to expand my personal learning network, I explored and subscribed to new blogs of the educational and political variety on my Google Reader. Of all of the tools on the internet, this is probably one of my favorites, almost edging out Facebook! Google Reader allows you to put all of your favorite blogs in one place, in a format of a feed that is quite similar to Facebook’s newsfeed. I love having everything in one place and also being able to see variety. I will go from reading an educational¬† article from the Britannica Blog to reading about how to cook affordable meals from Budget Bytes— both of which I highly recommend!
  • Then, there is always Facebook. Unfortunately, when we hear the words “Facebook” and “teacher” together, it is typically related to scandal, such as a teacher getting fired for posting controversial pictures on Facebook. However, it obviously has potential for educational purposes. It is still a good place to follow educational people and organizations. For instance, I see and learn things from The Brilliant Blog by Annie Murphy Paul everyday because it is posted alongside my friends’ updates. Her Facebook, Twitter, and blog are all integrated but I see her articles most through Facebook because I use it the most. Facebook is incredibly accessible and easy to use.
  • Of course the other most widely used social networking site is Twitter. Once again, Twitter is unfortunately frequently abused and used to post super personal updates and/or bash unpopular things or people; however, it, too, can also be used to learn about the newest research and current events really quickly. Because posts are short, you can scroll through hundreds of posts and learn about a myriad of topics in a matter of minutes!¬† Talk about efficient! Some of my favorite educational twitter feeds are:
    • ¬†Association for Psychological Science (APS): I like this one because I can read short blips from the newest research studies in psychology, which often relate to education, and only read the long study if I find it particularly relevant or profound.
    • Daniel Willingham: I follow him for the same reasons as the APS but, his posts more narrowly pertain to educational, cognitive psychology– like how we learn and what happens in the brain when we learn.
    • Today’s Document by the US National Archives: As a social studies teacher, finding high quality primary sources can be tough but it is incredibly important. Following a feed like this helps make primary sources more accessible and easier to digest. Instead of hurriedly scrambling for one for a lesson plan tomorrow, I can make note of and bookmark potential sources for future lessons.
    • American History Museum: Almost more interesting than documents are artifacts. While this feed is informative, they always manage to make history fun and captivating. Even the non-history buff will enjoy this Twitter feed!

    All in all, there is no shortage of educational websites, blogs, and social networking sites. The list is literally endless, which is one of the many reasons it is critical that we learn to assess and pick the best, most reliable sources of information. More importantly, we have to do this for ourselves but also, to model such information literacy to our students and expose them to high quality sources of news and knowledge. At the end of the day, I am developing my own personal learning network but also setting a standard for what that looks like to my students, so that they may develop their own.

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