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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Professional Learning in the Digital Age - A Review

Last spring my Google Teacher Academy buddy Dr. Kristen Swanson sent me an email asking if she could interview me for a book that she was writing. I agreed and we connected over Skype for a conversation about the role that blogging has played in my professional life. This week Kristen's book came in the mail and I was surprised to see how much of our conversation made it into her new book, Professional Learning in the Digital Age. (I've been interviewed for other books and research projects and usually a five minute conversation boils down to one sentence).

Professional Learning in the Digital Age: The Educator's Guide to User-Generated Learning is a succinct 84 page (plus appendixes) guide to harnessing the power of online communities to become a better educator. Kristen uses examples of people like me, Patrick Larkin, Kim Sivick, and others to illustrate the power of user-generated learning. What is user-generated learning? According to Kristen it's learning acquired through active curation, reflection, and contribution to a self-selected collaborative space. In other words, learning through the professional connections you make.

As you might expect from the title, Professional Learning in the Digital Age, the book introduces readers to a variety of ways to digitally connect with other professionals. In each chapter Kristen provides a list of resources and a small "do now" action plan to help you get connected. The format of the book makes it easy to read a chapter, stop and do the "do now" things that Kristen lists, and then come back to reading the book later.

If you're looking for a book to give to faculty members that need to get connected, Professional Learning in the Digital Age is the perfect book for them. Kristen has written it in a style that makes the importance of user-generated learning clear while at the same time she avoids preaching "the gospel of social media." Professional Learning in the Digital Age will give readers the feeling that user-generated learning is important and that they can do the things Kristen recommends.

To support people new to user-generated learning Kristen will be hosting a Professional Learning in the Digital Age virtual book club in January. You can get more information about the virtual book club on the website User Generated Learning.

You can get the book from Eye on Education and hopefully soon from Amazon too.

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