PLN 2013 – Unit 1 — Getting Started

PLN 2013 – Unit 1

Greetings! My name is Fleur Diamond and I am an English teacher at Methodist Ladies’ College in Kew, Victoria. I started out in teaching at university 1996 – 2001 while I was finishing a PhD in English Literature. After completing a Grad. Dip. Ed. in 2002 I moved into secondary teaching and have been there ever since.

In the decade I have been in the secondary classroom I have seen the use of laptops and ‘convergent’ devices really take off and now it seems that I really need to get on board if I am to be of any use to my students in another decade from now.

I would rate myself as a ‘selective user’ of Web 2.0 tools. I have some social networking accounts, but use them minimally, and mainly as an audience to others’ postings. I am fortunate to work in a school where there is a 1:1 ratio of students and teachers to laptops and many staff and students also have iPads. So I am conscious of working in a technology-rich environment, but I am a novice when it comes to using these tools. I maintain wikis for each class I teach and occasionally use blogging software for student collaboration. I am gradually becoming aware of using Web 2.0 for making learning more real for students by putting them in contact with experts and other learners around the world.

I find that my main issue with the Web 2.0 phenomenon is a sense of being spread too thin when I start using a lot of web tools – the information is everywhere and coming at me from all directions! At times it seems to be just another source of people wanting a response from you. I also find that at the end of a day in an open-plan staff room and busy classrooms, the last thing I want to do is to jack into more social interaction online. However, I do intermittently keep a blog of my reading and enjoy others’ blogs. I am curious about the creative and constructive potential of the more dynamic form the web now takes.

My current Personal Learning Network would include the subject association (Victorian Association for the Teaching of English) and professional development onsite at school. I subscribe to teachers’ newsletters for Museum Victoria, the State Library of Victoria and a couple of educational book publishers. I have a blog reader through my WordPress account and Google Reader. Most of the blogs in my Readers are in the area of Teacher Librarianship, as that seems to be where a lot of discussion is occurring about technology in the classroom and information literacy. I also follow independent publishers, authors, and interesting individuals on Twitter, thereby getting another information source about upcoming events, articles, conferences and so on. Of course, face-to-face interactions with colleagues and my students remain the greatest source of professional learning.

I joined the PLN course mainly out of a sense that I am at the stage of having had a taste of what Web 2.0 is all about and knowing that I would like to take things further. On the note of feeling overwhelmed and spread too thin, I really want to learn how to harness the power of these technologies by knowing how to organise my interactions with them. I find that many platforms such as EverNote, EdModo and NetVibes present some ways to organise information sharing and student work that, in the promotional materials on the websites, looks great. But when it comes time to subscribe to these services I run aground really quickly. What seems intuitive for more proficient users, I have no idea how to operate, and I am left with accounts from which I have only extracted a fraction of the function and value I might have. I am also looking forward to learning how to participate in online learning communities and applying this knowledge to my classroom and my interactions with colleagues.

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