Personal Learning Network

Posted on 21 Mar 2009 in Educational Technology, Intervention, Special Education | 1 comment

Once upon a time, we had to hunt for information on behavior interventions – but now we can use technology and Personal Learning Networks to deliver the knowledge we want directly to us.

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The following content I wrote will soon to be published in the April 2009 CCBD Newsletter, but posted here as a preview since I think it is a great way for those of us in the field of behavior and special education to better connect and share our knowledge and help bring research to practice quicker and more efficiently.

Can technology be a part of your Personal Learning Network (PLN)?

Tools for Synchronous Connections

Conversations that occur in real time and allow moment-to-moment discourse were once the main way that many teachers learned how to become a more effective teacher or to problem solve classroom challenges. Talking to colleagues or friends and trading ideas in the lunchroom was often our only opportunity for interaction. Today we have plenty of options. Here are some Web 2.0 tools that can keep you connected to friends, colleagues, and other professionals who can help you grow as a teacher:
•    www.skype.com
•    http://twitter.com
•    www.ustream.tv
•    http://secondlife.com
•    text messaging/instant messaging also falls into this category

Tools for Semi-Synchronous Connections

In addition to real-time conversations, the Internet has introduced us to nearly-real-time conversations as well. We can collaborate on projects and work side-by-side with colleagues across town or across the world easier then ever before. And, we don’t have to rely on snail mail or even email to share our contributions since new web apps let us work in the same space across distance and time. Here are some Web 2.0 tool that allow you to share your work and ideas with other:
•    http://docs.google.com
•    www.facebook.com
•    http://delicious.com
•    www.diigo.com
•    www.wiggio.com
•    www.teachertube.com

Tools for Asynchronous Connections

In the beginning, mankind was a hunter and gatherer, so too with the Internet. Today, we expect all the necessities of life to come to us, so too with the Internet. Instead of hunting or Googling for specific content, use RSS aggregators to bring the content you want to you. When you subscribe or click the orange RSS feed button you see on many sites and blogs, you are requesting that page to notify you and send you information when there is new content posted. Aggregators collect all these feeds into once place for you. Here are some aggregators worth checking out:
•    www.google.com/reader
•    www.netvibes.com
•    www.pageflakes.com
•    www.bloglines.com

These and other Web 2.0 tools were categorized by blogger David Warlick in Learning & Leading with Technology, March/April 2009.

You are NOT Alone

I share these ideas on a blog dedicated to behavior intervention because our real network is inherently tiny. As a special ed. teacher or the behavior intervention guru for your school you may be the only expert on staff. This was often the case for me. EBD students make up less then 1% of students with special needs and the entire body of students with exceptionalities (or those IN special education) only total about 10% of the school population. PLN’s offer us one way to keep connected with the national community even if we are the lone ‘expert’ at the local level. This is important. You are part of a larger movement. There are others out there who love students with behavior problems and know how to help – or are at least trying – as opposed to suspending students or trying to kick them out of school.

Keep intervening.

Contact me if you have questions or just want to network.

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