With the growth of the internet,
technology and especially with web 2.0 tools it is now easier for
each of us to build a unique online Personal
Learning Network (PLN).
These networks often grow organically as
we ourselves evolve both needs and skills ... with the increase
in available information worldwide and easier access there comes
a time when it's advisable to pause and reflect.
Not only is this an exercise
in time management but also one related to
keeping sane under the rapid growth of information available. With this all in mind I created this
to identify and visualise my own PLN.
It is critical
for us to take control of our own learning ... lifelong learning
... we owe it to ourselves not only as a survival strategy but one
that contributes to the quality of our own life and also those whose
lives we touch and who, in turn, touch us.
to go to the relevant area on the Shambles website Leave
PLN tools ... on the internet .....
in no particular order
My PLN network possibly differs from the norm because in 2002
I founded and manage a high traffic website ; Shambles www.shambles.net.
Shambles has over 10,000 visitors a day ... most new web resources
and links I become aware of are published on Shambles ... the
submission forms on Shambles receives suggestions for links
on a daily basis .... for which I'm really grateful.
If I did not have Shambles then I'd
probably replace its functionality with a Social Bookmarking
Ways in which I use Blogs ...
my preferred platform is Google's Blogger
Workshops: for most of the workshops
or presentations I give there is usually a unique supportive
Blog in order to create a group awareness before we meet.
A Blog allows me to introduce myself, allows participants
to introduce themselves, allows participants to comment and
influence the content and structure of the works to better
suit their specific needs. As an example see theBlog
for workshops I do in Singapore. International Schools Island: a Blog is being
used as a tool to record the build and development of Int.Schs.Island
in Second Life ... this has been an excellent solution to
archive a S.L. education case study. Shambles What's New and Exciting: this Blog
is designed to record developments on the Shambles
website ... but 'much to my shame' I give very
little time to this ... and I know I should ... ;-( http://shamblesnews.blogspot.com Forest of Theme Blogs: growing this "Blog
Forest" has been an exciting project, a very simple
way of providing media (mainly video
& still images) in a controlled and safe environment
to students and educators. It is not difficult to do .. but
is time consuming, so the advise is ... "slowly"
Micro blogging arrived in 2007 ... "what is happening?"
in less than 140 characters ... although I do prefer the terms
"presence monitoring" .. or "Micro IM",
I feel they better describe what is happening. Twitter: is the best known and I do visit
daily ... it's a great way to find out about new resources
and to share ... the trick to managing this seems to be to
keep the 'noise' minimal by choosing who you follow carefully. www.twitter.com/shamblesguru
.. follow me ;-) Worth keeping an eye on are the Twitter look-a-likes
designed for education where a teachers can take a moderation/control
role over student members. (e.g. Edmodo)
Twellow is a 3rd party real time Twitter
directory .... where you can choose areas of interest ...
try 'education' see www.twellow.com/category_users/cat_id/22
.. brilliant resource but time demanding, I do not visit often.
There will always be 'others' ... be vigilant ... what's
new in Web 2.0 ?
Skype: my Skype
name is 'cthsmith' .... and has become on of my main synchronous
communication tools which serves 3 purposes
(a) VoIP Voice over I.P. ... i.e. free telephone calls or
low cost to regular phones
(b) I.M. instant messaging
(c) It gives people the ability to see if I'm available online
in real time ... this third is probably the most useful/powerful.
Google Apps: .... being used more and more
by me to support collaboration and projects ... mainly Google
Docs ... "Watch this Space"
.... cloud computing is on the way.
Evernote: I joined EverNote
in 2008 but did not start to use it until May 2009 ... I am
now "totally hooked".
This is becoming a killer application for me ... keeping notes
that can contain text, images, webpages, files, document,
sound file .... that are all saved in 'the cloud' which sync
across ALL of my computers (PC & Apple) and iPhone.
This is becoming one of my main "Information Management"
Public Shared Notes here.
Professional Associations: earlier in my
career I used to be a paid up member of several professional
organisations and associations ... now it's down to one ... Naace:
"Naace is the (UK) professional association for those
concerned with advancing education through the appropriate
use of information and communications technology (ICT). Naace
was established in 1984 and has become the key influential
professional association for those working in ICT in education."
Main benefits of membership for me (I'm
an overseas remember) is the weekly emailed newsletter
and also access to the Naace online forums/listservs.
Naace became an affiliate of ISTE
(USA) in 2008
(99% through iTunes)
.... regularly listen to:
Forest of Theme Blogs: it is now
so easy to embed images and videos into Blogs that this becomes
a way of creating collections designed for specific students
or learning objectives ... as an example see my growing Forest
of Theme Blogs.
Search Engines: are an integral part of everyone's
online experiences ... but which one?. For me it is almost
Very rarely do I use any of the other multiple
search engines that are available; exceptions being search
engines specifically to find
images and visual
Google also provides the site search engine for Shambles.
Browsers: it seems logical to also mention
browsers as they no longer just display webpages but contain
functionality to help manage the information displayed.
I migrated from Microsoft's
Internet Explorer to Firefox
in 2004 ... and the plethora of plug-ins and extensions made
by third parties have made this option a very powerful information
management tool .. although in mid 2008 I started to have
troubles with the browser 'hanging' which is probably due
to having too many plug-ins running.
In the summer of 2008 Google released their own browser Chrome
.... I have surprised myself at how quickly I have moved over
to this ... it is now the default browser on many of my computers
... speed and stability being the main reasons.
I plan to experiment with Flock
... a browser designed to specifically support Social Networking.
Techii Stuff: usually I set up my browsers
to use (free) OpenDNS
to help combat problems that might be caused with network
Wikipedia: I am a fan of Wikipedia
... I appreciate that this is an ongoing discussion with parents
and educators ... should we allow students access or allow
then to quote/cite. My vote is in the corner of allowing access
... hand-in-hand with an education programme that encourages
critical evaluation of all knowledge sources.
Wiki Hosts: the only wikis I create myself
are usually for specific workshops , either as a demo or as
a tool to support the organisation of the workshop. My favourite
hosts are pbwiki and wikispaces.
Google Knol: it was interesting when Google
launched Knol early in 2008, thought to be a Wikipedia killer
... I set up some
pages to evaluate ... Wikipedia should not be concerned.
Shambles Newsletter: three times a year a free Shambles
Newsletter goes out to around 10,000 ... although is is
designed with International Schools in S.E.Asia in mind ..
it is now a global initiative read by many educators.
I suspect like many in the world I wake up to a pile of email
each day waiting for attention. I have several email accounts
the main being firstname.lastname@example.org
... I also have csmith@iESF.net
(inherited from an earlier time),
used when sending the Shambles newsletter) and
all thing related to International Schools Island in Second
Life). There is a email@example.com used with
iGoogle and Google Apps.
All of these can be accessed through their own individual webmail
pages ... although I occasionally use www.shambles.net/checkemail
which can access any email account.
Generally I run all my email accounts first through Mailwasher
which identifies and deals with most spam.
(there is a free downloadable version) Outlook:Then
they are all aggregated into "MS
Outlook" where I plough through them. iPhone:
When traveling I'm sometimes forced to use webmail on the iPhone
I have evolved through a number of RSS Readers/Aggregators (list
below) and at the moment am using a Web
2.0 Start Page site as an option. (thanks
Warlick) In many respects
my subscriptions to listservs and emailed newsletters cover
much of what an RSS reader can offer ... but NOT all ... still
PLN tools ... in Second LIfe (Virtual
World) ..... in no particular
S.L. blogs & groups
Blogs: there are lots of Blogs
about S.L. Using RSS to subscribe to your favourite is probably
the most efficient way to keep track.
An avatar is able to subscribe to a maximum of 25 groups in
S.L.: | ALA SL-Events | ASTD | College
of Scripting Music Science | Diginalet | Educational Podcasting
| ELVEN | English Village | Fermi Designs | Hippo Technology
| International Schools (k-12) | isi Management | ISTE SL Tour
Grp | ISTE:
Educational Technology Association | k-12 Educators | Naace
| MNC Members | SL Business Communicators | SL Teaching Without
Borders | Teacher Networking Center | TNC Tour Group | Train
for Success | UpsideDown Society |
Listservs: there are three SL listservs
I belong to and receive daily digests of messages ... if you
are an educator then "SL Educators" is a MUST ....
the other two about scripting and front end developing ... helps
make me think I know what is happening in those areas ... I'm
probably delusional about my abilities here ;-)
Educators | SL
Scripters | SL
Profile Mining: right click on an avatar
gives access to their profile, clicking on the "Picks"
section lists the places in S.L. that the avatar recommends
... so if an avatar with education interests then their picks
often include places with an education relevance.
Also see the 'web' tab in the profile.