Sunday, November 6, 2011

11Tools 2_The PLN

My PLN consists of a Symbaloo account where I categorize and store the resources that I use regularly or need easy access for experimentation, an iGoogle page with selected feeds that link to and are fed by both Google Reader and Google +, I use Twitter (@eduheretic, @litartscoach) and Tumblr and have begun to experiment with a Netvibes CMP (Classroom Management Portal. A CMP is really a Classroom Cop for assisting students in establishing both individual and collaborative PLNs. When blogging and the use of wikis with and among students/classrooms becomes a reality, the CMP is vital for both safety and accountability. In addition, it has the potential to become a PLN within a PLN.
There are 2 distinct sides to a PLN - Pull and Push. The key is have a fairly equal balance. Most people are adept at the Pull side, we e-lurkers. The PLN doesn't really rise to its potential until the equation is balanced with the Push factor. While the necessary first step is to start pulling, the establishment of a Push factor to a web presence is the essence of the PLN. As for pull, nothing quite works as efficiently as Twitter. Rather than RSS (Really Simple Syndication) it is ESSoD (Extremely Simple Syndication on Demand)Using RSS feeds from the heavy hitters out there can be rewarding in terms of inspiration. But when one realizes that a diet consisting only of formal feeds does not approach the nutritional level the informality of Twitter and Goggle + provides. Through informality one realizes the sincerely helpful nature that is found in online communities.
These days I am primarily a Puller. The sources that I rely on are the Flat Classroom community. Following these folks is satisfing not only in terms of solid How To information, but Inspiration as well. Vicki Davis' Cool Cat Teacher blog and San Antonian Miguel Guhlin's Around the Corner are as prolific as they are knowledgeable and inspirational. In the blogosphere they are both Super Heavy Hitters with literally tens of thousands of followers. In person, they are just plain friendly helpful folks. I tend to follow the folks that follow them and find that these are just plain folks willing to learn and share and help - just teachers.
On a daily basis I benefit from widely read reblogger David Kapular - Technology Tidbits: Thoughts of a Cyber Hero. In addition, I receive a mountain of potentially great resources from the Diigo communities - Google Apps in Education, Classroom 2.0, and Project Based Learning. Again, just regular folks that have found a Push groove. In essence the PLN is not really about the sources used or the tools aspect, but about what you do on the Push side of the equation.

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