Friday, August 9, 2013

Two Good and Easy Ways To Expand Your PLN

The question that I am asked more often than any other in regards to building a personal/ professional learning network is, "how do I find people to connect with?" There are two methods that I recommend depending upon if you are using Twitter or Google+. By the way, I find myself spending more and more time on Google+ these days and I encourage you to try it if you haven't, here's why.

If you are using Twitter to build your PLN, search using a hashtag related to education. Cybary Man has a massive list of hashtags used by educators. Search one of those hashtags and see who is using it. Then follow some of the people that are using the hashtag(s) related to your interest(s).

If you are using Google+ to build your PLN, a quick and easy way to find other educators is to go to the Communities section and search for an open community that is centered around a topic that you're interested in. You can simply join the community or you can start to put the individual members into your Google+ circles.

Going Beyond Google With the Help of Friends

Whenever I have the opportunity to speak about personal/ professional learning networks (PLNs) one of points that I stress to the skeptical members of the audience is the idea of going beyond Google. By that I mean using social networks to discover ideas and information that you might not find if you were simply Googling for information. In essence this comes down to the idea that "together we are smarter." When you ask for help or feedback from your PLN you are potentially using the brains of dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other educators. In response to your request you may find people are willing to share things they've created or things they've discovered that you couldn't have found by Googling.

Applications for Education
Students can use this concept of "going beyond Google with the help of friends." In fact, I'd argue that they should be using whenever they're working on group projects. Use a service like Diigo or eduClipper to have students create a groups in which they share materials they've found and or created.

How to Embed a Google Calendar Into Your Blogger Blog

Earlier this week I suggested adding a Google Calendar to your classroom blog. After publishing that post I received a few questions about how to do that. In the video below I explain how to embed a Google Calendar into your Blogger blog.

Click here if you cannot see the video.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Help Students Start Stories With Word Mover

This afternoon during the technology smackdown at Teaching & Learning conference in Gaston, North Carolina Julian Scott Wilson reminded me about Read Write Think's Word Mover iPad app. I wrote about the app last year, but until today I didn't realize that it can also be used in your web browser.

Word Mover is designed to help students develop poems and short stories. When students open Word Mover they are shown a selection of words that they can drag onto a canvas to construct a poem or story. Word Mover provides students with eight canvas backgrounds on which they can construct their poems.

Applications for Education
Word Mover could be a great tool for students to use to as a story or poem starter. Word Mover reminds me a bit of those refrigerator magnets that were popular for a while. You know, the ones that had individual words on them that you dragged around to create funny sentences. The same idea can be applied to Word Mover. 

Best of the Web for #TLC13

This morning at the Teaching & Learning Conference held on the campus of Gaston College I presented the best of the web 2013. The slides are embedded below.