Classroom Queanbeyan

Educational technology in Queanbeyan

Expanding your Professional Learning Network (PLN)

Are you interested in keeping up with educational technology and ideas; interested in finding a professional use for social media other than documenting your meals and taking selfies; and think one of the best things about professional development is meeting other teachers and talking about what you do in the classroom?

Then it might be time to expand your PLN using social media to connect and share with teachers across the state, Australia and the world.

I like to sit down at the end of the day with a cup of tea and catch up with my professional learning network online.

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Apart from being useful for keeping up with family and friends, Facebook can give you a constant feed of information from professional and information organisations.

The Australian Teacher Librarian Network, Australian Science Teachers Association, Aboriginal Education and Community Engagement NSW, Teach NSW, and School Library Association of NSW are just some of the pages I follow. When you "like" a page you receive their posts but they don't see your feed.

You can follow news organisations like ABC Science, Canberra Times or The Conversation. You can also follow educational cultural organisations such as the National Library or War Memorial and find out when events are on.

Look at your regular websites , you will be amazed at how many have a Facebook page.

You can also form closed groups on Facebook to have professional discussions and share. You usually have to ask the administrator to join the these groups but that is done by pressing the join button or direct messaging the administrator with your name and reason for wanting to join. I belong to three teacher librarian groups on Facebook , connecting with TLs across all sectors across Australia.

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It may be initially hard to see how a medium that only allows 140 characters can be used for professional learning. However Twitter is used by educators to connect and share across the world. Many educators write down their thoughts about education in blogs and then tweet the URL links.Resources are shared by inserting the URLs into the tweet. You can use Twitter by following some interesting educators, by joining in edu chats at regular times of the week using the chat hashtags or by following educational conferences using the conference hashtag. For instance the recent International Society for Technology in Education conference has the hashtag #ISTE2014. Following some of the educators who tweeted about it would be a useful way to start using Twitter.

Once again you will be amazed at how many of your favourite organisations and websites already have a twitter account.

Twitter is like a constant river of information especially when you are following several hundred people. Don't feel you have to read all of it, just dip in and out of it on a regular basis. You will start by just RT (retweeting) interesting links but eventually you will find that you will be able to answer someone's question or get involved in a conversation.

Trap for newbies is getting caught by spam. Do not click on any link that does not tell you what is in it. It is a spam bot and will spam your followers.

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NSW DEC Yammer is a social media network just for employees of NSW DEC. It is a closed network and works a little bit like Facebook. You can share photos, text, URL's and files and videos. There are groups for special interest groups like Maths teachers, Teacher Librarians and people interested in iPads. As this network is just a few months old most people using it are new to using social media professionally and it is only just developing a sense of community. Which makes it a good time to join in. Yammer allows longer text boxes than either Facebook and Twitter and is good for longer conversations.

Meeting people in real life that I know from Yammer is one of the fascinating and enjoyable events in my life because you already feel you know them.