Won’t technology purchased today be outdated soon?

Friday, December 17th, 2010 | technology | 1 Comment

In two years from now textbooks that have not even been written will be available.  Does that mean you must do without textbooks until the latest ones become available?  Surely not – you’ll just continue using what you have!

The same can be said of technology, which advances at a mind-boggling rate.  In two years from now technology that has not even been designed will be available – as a result some say, “The best time to buy technology is in two years’ time.”  This may seem like good economic advice, but is it realistic?

If you keep postponing the purchase of technology for your classroom you will be like a person who is forever chasing the end of a rainbow in the quest for the pot of gold.  You’ll never find it and, while chasing around, you’re losing out on the enjoyment of the glorious colours.

By not making use of current technology, you are losing out on potentially beneficial tools.  You can’t put things off forever.  The best time to have planted a tree was twenty years ago, but if you have not planted one yet, the best thing you can do is to plant one now.  Those teachers who started using technology twenty years ago would have refreshed it several times by now – but imagine how skilled they are today!

If you already have technology in your classroom, and it serves the needs of you and your learners right now, it is a different matter.  You may decide to wait a while with an upgrade or replacement of equipment to benefit from the latest features.

If you don’t have technology in your classroom, you must consider two compelling reasons why you should not wait for the latest versions:

As a teacher you can’t afford to wait any longer to become a skilful user of technology teaching tools.  Every day you delay is a day too much.

Learners need to be exposed to technology now.  The world around us demands a familiarity with technology.  A classroom devoid of technology does not allow learners to develop skills necessary to cope with the pressures of the twenty-first century.

Don’t agonize over possible technology changes – the equipment you purchase today will still be useful for a number of years.  The skills you and your learners build now will far outweigh the new technology features that may become available in the future.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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How can I use technology to build a PLN?

Monday, November 29th, 2010 | Personal Learning Networks, technology | 2 Comments

A PLN (personal learning network) could exist without the use of technology, but technology raises the potential of learning through a network of experts to a level not possible without it.

Before the days of computers and the internet, the extent of a PLN was limited to the people with whom you had regular contact, as well as the occasional workshop and conference you attended.

Now, in the early part of the 21st century, technology has brought us social networking tools.  This makes networking the easiest thing in the world, enabling you not only to be a consumer of knowledge, but also a contributor of knowledge to others where you serve as a node in their networks.

How do you go about building such a network?  Here are a few suggestions:

You must have regular access to a computer and the internet.  If you can use the internet on your cell phone, it is even better, since you will be able to take your PLN with you wherever you go.

Start reading blogs.  Choose blogs dealing with topics you want to learn more about.  Make comments and ask questions.  Follow the links of others who comment on the blogs you read – these often lead to valuable additions to your PLN.  The next step for you is to create your own blog.

Join a social network such as Twitter.  Twitter is a good example of micro-blogging – it is like blogging, but you are restricted to 140 characters per posting.  Most of the posts are references to internet sites where you can find information about interesting topics.  If you carefully choose whom to follow on Twitter you’ll be surprised how much you will learn in a short space of time.

Join Nings (if you don’t know what this is, google it) and other discussion groups.  You will soon discover a plethora of tools and sites that will help you to expand and manage your PLN.

The most important thing in building a PLN is to start doing it.  You can make it as small or big as you would like it to be.  The value you’ll derive from it is huge.  The biggest problem you’ll encounter with a PLN is maintaining a balance so that you don’t spend too much time networking – it can become addictive!

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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What is a PLN?

Sunday, November 28th, 2010 | Personal Learning Networks, technology | 3 Comments

PLN is an acronym for personal learning network.  Your PLN defines the network of people you’ve chosen and from whom you hope to learn.

The concept of such a network among educators is not new – teachers have had their networks all along.  However, the term PLN is new – as is the way in which technology is used to manage your network.

When you analyze each one of the words of the PLN phrase – personal learning network – you obtain a better understanding of it.  Let’s look at each word in turn.

Personal:  The P in PLN stands for personal and not professional – this emphasizes that the learning network is yours.  You define it; you make it the way you want it to be; you decide to whom you want to connect; you also decide how you want to connect.  This is a powerful concept since it allows you to take control of your own personal development.  Just like a tailor makes a suit or dress as a perfect fit for you, a PLN is tailor made by you to suit your needs.  It is not like formal courses where you have to search until you find the most suitable one.  In a PLN you include what you need, and exclude what is superfluous.

Learning:  In formal programs of study the accent often falls on attendance, leading to a diploma or some other qualification.  The emphasis in a PLN is on learning – learning that is defined by what you need to learn.  You shape your network accordingly to your needs and not by what others dictate.

Network:  Teachers need input from others in the education community for personal growth.  Perhaps you’ve been to workshops and conferences and on your return felt that the greatest benefit was derived, not so much from the presentations you attended, but from the networking that took place during tea breaks and lunch times.

Technology makes it possible for you to build a PLN with teachers, education specialists and other gurus around the world.  You can include the best brains in the world – authorities on any conceivable topic.  From the comfort of your home you can communicate with them, learn from them and share ideas with them – the results are mutually beneficial.

Learning is just a mouse click away.  Technology makes it possible for you to connect with the other nodes of your network wherever you are and whenever you want to do so.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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The power of a personal learning network

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | technology | 3 Comments

The purpose of this posting is to show how powerful a personal learning network (PLN) can be – it helps you to learn all the time and obtain a better appreciation of things you are dealing with.

One of my favourite PLN tools is Plurk – a social networking site.  A plurk friend posted the following picture earlier today.

The picture illustrates the minuteness of electronic components, by placing a hair next to a transistor - I now have a better perspective of the size of the tiny components in my laptop and cell phone.  This information came to me in a fun way – I simply had to log onto my PLN.


Personal Learning Networks

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 | Personal Learning Networks | 1 Comment

There is nothing new about having a personal learning network – what is new is that it is called a PLN nowadays.

Personal learning networks have been around for ages – whenever a person needed to learn a new skill, a peer or an elder would be approached for guidance. People joined guilds (carpenters, shoemakers, candlemakers, tailors, bakers and many others) where they were part of a network that helped them to hone their own skills. Many guilds or clubs or societies still exist for the same purpose.

Each one of us has a personal set of connections for learning – our family, friends, colleagues, and other experts. We also have access to books, magazines and other resources that could form part of that network.

Computer technology has opened new doors to forming personal learning networks. Through the internet we gain access to vast information resources. But more importantly, it is now possible to include people, to whom we never had access before, in our networks. By means of email we could tap into the expertise of people in all parts of the world – asking for advice is only a mouse click away.

There are many networking tools available that puts one in touch with people who could extend our personal network. Most people are aware of Facebook – though it is mostly used for entertainment and personal purposes, this facility could be used to link up with people that may assist us with learning. There are also other tools, such as Plurk, Twitter, Delicious, and many others, that will help one to make the required connections.

Personal learning networks are essential for life long learning. Technology affords each one the opportunity to build a very powerful network.

If you have found any electronic personal learning network tool particularly useful, please share your experience with us. The personal growth of many individuals in Africa hinges on the use of these tools to form such networks.


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