Personal Learning Networks

As was mentioned in a previous post, one of my classes this quarter is on Social Media. More specifically, it is about social media usage in K-12 schools. Since I do not work in a school system, I approach the topic more as someone who collaborates with schools and that is kinda how I approach my Personal Learning Network (PLN). The people in your PLN should extend beyond your current field or friends. But I am getting ahead of myself…

So what is a PLN? Let’s start first with the PLE- Personal Learning Environment

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Everyone’s PLE is going to look a little different.

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This is what mine looks like:

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I have it broken down into five sections: Resources, Curation, Networks, Communication, and Locations. Your PLE is always in flux and could change depending on what resources are available to you, your current interests, or even your current career. For example, in my course, we are using Wikispaces, but the platform has just announced that they will shutter the site this summer. This reminds me a lot of the Digital Media Concepts and Production course I took as part of my graduate degree. I was introduced to a lot of great resources, but many of them don’t exist now because they merged with other products, the company was sold or went bankrupt, or there just is no more interest in it. Then there are some that we think are gone, but still exist…did you know MySpace is still up and running?

Now to focus on the network part of the PLE, we have the PLN:

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There are three types of PLNs: Synchronous- meaning real-time, Asynchronous- meaning not in real-time, and Semi-synchronous which is a blend of the two. This blog is an example of asynchronous.  If you visited my social media links, those would be semi-synchronous because we could connect in real-time or play a virtual version of phone-tag. *hint* I am usually always online with either a tablet, a phone, or a computer somewhere close by. So there is a good chance you will catch me via one of the social networks.

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Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook make up a big part of my PLN. I try to keep everything separate depending on the platform. For example, Facebook is for friends and family, though I have been branching out to include some private FB groups related to blogging. Next is LinkedIn which I keep strictly professional. I will connect with librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, and many others related to my scope of professional interest like educators, STEM, training, etc. I find people through conferences, trainings I have attended, and even follow several authors. Twitter is a mish-mash of the two. My Twitter contains people I know in real life, but also many others that I have never met. Some I follow for entertainment…my current Twitter obsession is following David Harbour’s adventures with his Twitter ReTweet challenges.

I am waiting for those “dad dance” pics with the penguins…

Then there are others that I follow for professional reasons such as the current Kid Lit controversy about notable male children’s authors sexually harassing other authors.

While I don’t attend the conferences mentioned in the articles, it is important that as a librarian, I am aware of stuff like this. This is why it is important to have people in your network from outside of your silo.

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I admit that I am not very active on the socializing part when it comes to using my Social Networks to their best advantages. I am working on that. In the meantime…

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Sometimes just observing can be okay while you figure out what is okay and what is not for a particular platform or group.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ITSE) has developed standards when it comes to technology usage in education. As a student, I think I am rocking it as far as the standards are concerned. This blog has gone a long way towards helping that along with sharing information and trying towards being a global collaborator. I teach at the graduate and professional levels rather than K-12, so the teacher standards also look pretty good to me, but that is because I have a lot of resources available to me. I teach via virtual classrooms and learning management platforms on a regular basis, so technology and my teaching are pretty integrated. Many of my students are current or future media specialists, so we try to also include resources that they can use in the schools (which is why I am taking a school focused Social Media course).

One thing I have learned is that when you plan on using a particular social media tool, plan on a backup as well. Last time I taught my grad course, we planned on using VoiceThread which allows you to narrate slides via a cloud upload. It only worked for half the students. So I quickly came up with an alternate submission platform using the course’s discussion boards. Now when I teach the course again, I will have that backup already available as an option.

I used to be a member of the Association for Library Service to Children‘s Children and Technology Committee, so teaching best practices, or media mentorship, when it comes to technology use and children is something that is very important to me. Technology is not going away, so it is important that we teach our children how to be responsible technology users. If we shelter them from it, then they are going to make mistakes because they haven’t been taught what responsible usage looks like. If we want them to learn, we are going to need to show them that we are willing to learn as well. So the question is, where can we go to learn?

As a librarian, the archive of resources from Little eLit has been a valuable tool that I still use with my grad students. ITSE has great educator resources. The perfect blend for me of librarian and educator is following the Daring Librarian who is a middle school librarian. She posts great tips and resources for her PLN. Pinterest also has great resources like app reviews and how-to manuals. Twitter has Tweet Chats on various topics. Your library may also have resources like Lynda.com for learning how to navigate the various tools and platforms. I currently have learning about Instagram on my to-do-list.

The closing down of Wikispaces does bring one question to mind…we are posting all this great content. So how can we make sure that we are archiving or preserving it for the future if the place we posted it will no longer exist? Where do we go from here?

 

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More adventures in cooking from scratch…using Pinterest.

Had a craving for chocolate, so my son and I made these chocolate muffins.

I love finding new recipes to try using Pinterest. Here is the recipe for the above Chocolate Muffins. I tweaked very little other than using all purpose flour instead of wheat and vegetable oil instead of sunflower oil. I also didn’t have buttermilk on hand, so I substituted lemon juice and milk. They were very yummy!

If you use recipes you find on Pinterest, I recommend you create a board to repin the pins you have tried. Not only does it make it easier to find those pins again, but it also validifies that Pinterest is a very useful way to spend your time because you are using all those ideas you have pinned.

I have a lot of food finds pinned to my boards. Feel free to repin!

 

From Scratch…

I have talked before about how much I love Pinterest. It is just so inspiring. So many people comment on how it is a vortex to waste your time, but I have found many useful tips and tricks from the site. My favorite is the Fauxbreeze that can be found on my Frugal Me board. So Simple! I have also found that I am dressing and accessorizing better– at least in my opinion. I have also created a Pinterest Stuff I Have Really Tried board to not only show other that it is a valuable tool, but also to prove to myself that it is not a waste of time.

Last month, we bought a waffle maker from Target. We used a boxed mix to make the waffles and they were less than appealing. We decided that we would make a batch from scratch. Which prompted a pretty funny conversation with my 6 year old.

Little Man: Mommy can we go to the store tomorrow?
Me: Why? What do you want from the store?
Little Man: Scratch!
Me: What do you want?
Little Man: You know! Scratch…to make waffles from!
Me: Oh! Scratch isn’t a specific thing, it means using ingredients to make something homemade. We have to pick up the ingredients to make waffles.
Little Man: Well, can we do that? 


Sadly, we still haven’t made the waffles from Scratch, but I now have a stock pile of baking ingredients (including more bags of flour than I realized I already had). I started thinking while I was pinning recipes to my Food board on Pinterest that growing up, we didn’t buy a box of cake mix. There were no cans of apple pie filling. When we wanted to bake something, we pulled out the Watkins cookbook with my grandmother’s handwritten notes in the margin. Somewhere in high school, the cookbook was shelved and boxes started to take over the cabinet. I still use boxes, but is my son missing out because of this? It would be cheaper to make stuff from scratch even with coupons for all those box mixes.

I still have my grandmother’s cookbook. It is very brittle with age now, but it is nice to have that little bit of family tradition and history. So I have decided there will be no more box mixes in my house. I do of course have to use up the mixes I still have, but I will not be purchasing more. I have quite the collection of recipes now from Pinterest, but do you have any particular favorite boards or blogs to watch for? Maybe a favorite waffle recipe? 😉