Creating a Classroom without Walls Part 1

So are you ready to build the foundation for your classroom without walls? We hear buzz words like 21c. learning, classroom without walls, RSS feeds, social networking, Personal Learning Network, blogging, wikis… What does this all mean? To answer that… you as the teacher need to look in to some of this before you ask your students to dive in.

I would like to focus on how you can create a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Daniel R. Tolbin defines a Personal Learning Network “as a group of people who can guide your learning, point you to learning opportunities, answer your questions, and give you the benefit of their own knowledge and experience.” Who needs to be in the PLN? Anyone who can point you to learning opportunities you are interested in.

How do you create a PLN? To answer this question. I pulled the resources of my PLN.  One of the ways that I have created a PLN is through a website called Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging site that wants everyone to answer “What are you doing now?” Seems silly but we educators can take anything and make it an educational tool. Educators from across the world use this site to share resources and ask questions to help further their technology integration skills.

So last night I sent out this call…..

Within a few hours I had all of the results posted here. The responses are so wonderful. Please feel free to read the entire document but I have summerized their responses below.

1. Begin reading educational blogs. Who should you read? Well that is really up to you but I can suggest some great educators to start with. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites.

Dean Shareski

Alec Couros

John Pederson

Will Richardson

Vicki Davis

David Warlick

Cathy Nelson

Chris Craft

Jeff Giddens

Steve Dembo

Lee Kolbert

2. Begin using an RSS aggregator to keep up with your blogs. Google Reader is the reader I use. If you like to find out more about it, take a tour. Bloglines is another aggregator that is commonly used. I consider my Reader to be a big newspaper. Everyday the blog posts I am to subscribed all all feed into my Google Reader. All I have to do is open it and all the posts are there just like the articles in a news paper.

3. Begin commenting on blogs. Become a part of the conversation.

4. Instead of keeping your bookmarks on your computer, begin using a social bookmarking site such as Delicious. Lee Kolbert, a Technology Programming Specialist from Boca Raton, FL suggests, “Using an online bookmarking tool, such as, allows teachers to bookmark their bookmarks online and access them from anywhere. From there, I recommend teachers share their Delicious usernames and add each other to their networks. To build a global network, teachers can start to click through and add other users who have similar interests.”

6. Alec Couros suggests, “try microblogging (twitter or plurk). Find other educators that are passionate about social networking. See the resources people share. Have fun. Learn. Contribute. Twitter in education is a type of gift economy. People help each other. People learn from each other. We all benefit.” and “Experiment with other media and social network. Try Facebook. Browse Youtube and TeacherTube. Become aware of how all of this work. Find out how kids are using it.”

When you are ready to try Twitter or Plurk, here are a few tips.

A. Fill out your bio information. People in the education network are more likely to follow you if you have bio information about what you do.

B. Find someone you know or respect in the educational world and begin following the people they follow.

Now go off and explore…. build your network… “If you build it, they will come.” – Field of Dreams

6 thoughts on “Creating a Classroom without Walls Part 1

  1. This was a great idea, and the people you got to respond were simply awesome (no, I'm not referring to myself!). Thanks for posting your results so quickly. Is there a wiki out there with this type information on it for people new to PLNs? If not, I think you've found your next big project!


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