(taken from an assignment that I am currently writing)
Enhancing teaching and learning with ICT is a world-wide initiative for improving education and an attempt to align education with the requirements of the 21st century global digital economy (OECD, 2008). Using ICT to show students how to collaborate, network, learn and problem solve with other people from different cultures is a key skill for our future society (OECD, 2008).
There are numerous resources and digital strategies on-line for teachers to increase their knowledge and skills of ICT use and also on how to integrate these ICTs within a curriculum to engage students and enhance learning. The creation of a personal learning network (PLN) is beneficial for teachers to stay connected with current information and network with content professionals and teachers. PLN is the combination of managing digital information and resources, creating content and networking with other professional PLNs (Mott, 2010). Through the active use of a PLN a teacher has the opportunity to increase their learning, conduct personal research, and increase cross-disciplinary connections and network around the world. Teacher PLNs promote openness and sharing which benefits all by enhancing teaching resources, strategies and content. When a teacher connects and immerses themselves through a digital PLN they broaden their knowledge space significantly and the benefits of this accumulated connectivity, sharing and learning increases teacher quality. The traditional non-digitally connected teacher has far less connections and opportunities to network. A teacher that implements a PLN becomes a “networked teacher” with a broad professional reach which includes digital connections around the world (Couros, 2010).
Teachers who learn, connect and further their content research via a PLN are continuously contributing creations and sharing learning and teaching experiences and strategies. I believe a networked teacher is continuously researching their curriculum content, best practices and finding new teaching strategies. It is an excellent form of professional development since it requires that a teacher immerses themselves with the technology, new ideas and current research. The very nature of a PLN is personalised; therefore, each individual teacher PLN has a personal direct benefit to their professional growth. A quality teacher should be continually seeking out ways to improve and that requires practice and also research of new teaching ideas and developments.
Teachers who continually create their PLN and learn new strategies and skills on-line are more easily able to implement digital learning in the classroom. The digital skills required to create and grow a PLN are learned continuously and often involve various types of ICT tools, such as using Twitter, Voice Thread, Wikis, Skype, Blogs and Nings to network around the world. These digital skills are transferable into the teacher’s teaching and learning activities. A teacher who is confident with ICTs is more easily able to integrate and embed ICTs into all lessons. Ideally, I believe that each student should be guided to create their own PLN so that the immersive benefits of creating content, managing information and networking around the world can be experienced by students and contribute to their lifelong learning.
The future of work, our future economy and an increasing globalised world demands that educators continually evolve, learn and grow professionally. My PLN has allowed me to contribute my ideas and creations online and also connect with and learn from other educator professionals around the world. Through my PLN I have accumulated resources that help me integrate ICT tools and strategies in my teaching and learning activities. Technology is also continually growing and changing so it is imperative that educators stay abreast of these advances.
Couros, A. (2010). Personal learning networks for open & social learning. In G. V. (Ed.), Emerging Technologies in Distance Education (pp. 109-128). Athabasca, AB: AU Press, Athabasca University.
Mott, J. (2010, March 3). Envisioning the post-LMS era: the open learning network. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from Educause Review Online: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/envisioning-post-lms-era-open-learning-network
OECD. (2008). 21st century learning; research, innovation and policy directions from recent OECD analyses. Centre for Educational Research and Innovation.