The Educator's PLN

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Part [1] Recap In part 1 of this series, I shared my struggles with getting started creating my own personal PD and the difficulty I was having. In this post, I continue the expedition and share the tools I used to create my own PD experience.

Part [2] Boy was I excited when new people followed me after I tweeted some things out. I would watch my Twitter count go up and when it didn’t, I felt like a failure. Was I really failing? No. Did I know that? Yes. Why did I feel that way? Because I wanted to be good at it. I came to notice a trend in the tweeps and the hashtags I would follow. Rather than have a conversation, as Twitter says, “Keep the conversation going.”, many folks just pumped out massive amounts of links to sites and blogs. That irritated me. Why? Because I wanted to talk to people and not just see a bunch of resources. I came to understand, after reading some blogs, that educational tweeting wasn’t about the conversation so much as it is about the resources for people to find and use as they teach. Admittedly, I was still irritated that I couldn’t get a conversation going. At the same time, I was contemplating starting a blog. Am I a glutton for punishment or what?

Starting a blog was painful for me. I am very particular about how things look so I searched for the right looking blog format. I am a minimalist at heart and ended up using this format. As I searched, I thought about what the blog should be called. I wanted it to represent who I am and what I am thinking about in my role as a teacher, thinker, tech/teacher coach, constructivist, and person. This, again, was painful as I agonized over what to title the blog. Eventually, after many \ideas, I settled on reformed, the title of this blog, because it was who I am. I am reformed in my thinking, teaching, pedagogy, coaching and view of education in light of how quickly technology is changing it. I took the plunge as a blogger and now have two. This blog and my school blog titled Sync Tech. It took until now to actually get comfortable with Twitter and blogging. To blog and tweet, I needed a source of information to get ideas and stay relevant.

I determined that I had to have a way of getting information so I could keep up with the quickly evolving education arena. I had Google Reader but wanted something with more savvy. I searched for RSS feed aggregators and finally settled on Feedly and began feeding it RSS feeds of blogs and sites. Not only did I want information, and was hungry for it, but wanted a way to save everything I was finding. In comes Evernote Webclipper and the whole concept of curating.

Curating is essential to a life online and learning. If you cannot curate, you will drown in the sea of information that flows through all of social media. Using Feedly was one way to curate, and using Evernote Webclipper and Diigo was another. The key concept behind curating is determining what is essential to keep and what to discard. Moving through sites and blogs forced me to really think about what was important for me to learn. As I dove into this endeavor with Twitter and blogging, I curated information, using Feedly, that would me learn and help the teachers I coach.

I chose jump in with both feet first because I knew I was behind and I had to catch up. My urgency was being relevant as a teacher with a strong pedagogy, vision and technologist so I could be an asset. My urgency drove me like herding cats to wrangle the different streams and directions education is heading with my rope being my will and mind to pull it all together…I was feeling guilty I wasn’t up on the latest. I still struggle to keep up with the fast pace of education. How do you keep up? 

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