Over the years, the structure of PLNs for educators has rapidly transformed. Before the rise of the internet, teachers learned and collaborated with teachers in person in their school and district. With the dawn of the internet in the 1990s, teachers opened up their learning network using services like email to communicate with teachers they met at conferences and workshops. Today, with advent of the real-time social web, teachers are networking globally in ways never possible. These are the top 3 types of Professional Learning Networks every educator should join.
Blogs / MicroBlogs
If you are reading this, then you are familiar with blogs, but do you follow microblogs? Twitter is the #1 microblogging service out there. Once you sign up, use twitter search features to find educators tweeting about your interests, or twitter directories like Twellow or We Follow to connect with educators with similar interests.
Once you set up your account and find educators to connect with, get involved! Every #TeacherTuesday (the day most teachers are active on twitter) at 12 pm and 7 pm eastern, teachers from around the globe connect on twitter using the hashtag #edchat to discuss and evaluate various solutions to educational challenges. The #edchat discussion series was awarded most influential tweet discussion series from the 2009 Edublogger Awards. Find out more on how to get involved here.
Most of the resources on Twitter are links. You will need a way to keep, organize and share your favorite links. Social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Diigo allow you to use tags instead of file folders to organize your favorite resources. Sharing and networking is easy through the use of educator groups such as the Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0.
Groups and Forums
Members of educational groups and forums like Ning share resources and ideas, discuss topics of interest, maintain blogs, plan events, and much more. Get started with one of my favorite Ning networks – Classroom 2.0 or Educator’s PLN. Page setup and maintenance works much like Facebook, but don’t forget to get involved in the best part of Ning – the discussions forums.