Personal Learning Networks

 With all the emphasis these days on incorporating ICTs and Web 2.0 technology into the curriculum, it is very important for you as a teacher or teacher librarian to be familiar and comfortable with using this technology yourself, before you recommend it to your students.

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is an empowering way for you, as a professional, to constantly ‘feed’ yourself  with fresh ideas, as well as connecting with like-minded people all over the world for advice or sharing information.

Sue Waters, the Edublogger, has put together an excellent wiki outlining the 5 Top Tools for Building Your PLN at  This is a great site to get you started, with simple, clear instructions, and links to lots of other sites and examples.


Sue Water's PLN Recommendation

Sue Water's PLN Recommendation

 Here are some of Sue’s comments:

Twitter – Watching from the outside, Twitter seems like the the dumbest thing you’ve heard of – “Why would anyone want to tell others what they are doing in 140 characters.” And yet to dismiss Twitter is a mistake because it’s an incredibly powerful tool for your personal learning and connecting with others.

Social Bookmaking – means you can access your bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere. One of the best aspects of social bookmarking is you can easily share your bookmarks with other people or search your friends bookmarks for useful sites… If you like a website – bookmark it. You can not bookmark too many websites.

Blogging – Increased collaboration with people, will always lead to greater innovation and ideas, because each individual sees a different perspective of the task – giving all involved greater “food for thought!”

Ning – Ning is an online platform for creating social websites and social networks, and is designed to appeal to users who want to create networks around specific interests or have limited technical skills.

Get started, and have some fun!


If you’re doing a unit on authors or famous people with your students, here’s a fun way for them to display the information about that person.

ReadWriteThink‘s Bio-Cube generator lets students rotate the online cube as they add the following information:- person’s name, time period, place, personal background, personality traits, significance, biggest obstacle and important quotation. Then it creates a printable template with all the details on it which they can cut out and glue together to form the finished cube.

Print these onto A3 coloured paper, add images and create a hanging mobile in your classroom or library.

“Summarizing information is an important postreading and prewriting activity that helps students synthesize what they have learned. This tool allows students to develop an outline of a person whose biography or autobiography they have just read; it can also be used before students write their own autobiography. Specific prompts ask students to describe a person’s significance, background, and personality. The finished printout can be folded into a fun cube shape that can be used for future reference.”

 If you’d like some other ideas for using the Bio-Cube, have a look at the lesson plans for Yrs 3-12 at this site:

Better PowerPoint Presentations

We all use PowerPoint for our lessons and we teach students how to use it, but do we bore them to death with too much text and poor presentation techniques?   Joyce Valenza, in her blog Neverending Search, tells how she and her school’s Technology coach worked with teachers and students, trying to break 10 years of bad PowerPoint habits. What they discovered was:

  • On the whole, the students who listened to us did better presentations. Their slides looked way better.  They looked modern–without the 90s digital accent. (With the exception of one dedicated WordArt fan.)
  • Without their bullets, students were forced into storytelling.  They connected with their audience.
  • Those students who chose to ignore our advise and continued to use bullets, kept turning to look at their slides.  When the audience saw a slide appear with five or six bullets, you could almost see them sigh. The presenter also appeared tired when faced with the prospect of covering all those bullets.  You could also hear quiet snickers when a student chose to use clipart.

The following slide shows have some very good information about using PowerPoint more effectively to get your message accross.

Talk Like a Pirate Day – a good example of use of minimal text and large images.

Learner-Centered e-Teaching and Motivation

I saw this video on Judy O’Connell’s blog HeyJude, and really appreciated it. 

When used in the classroom, the power of technology means that learning will become more vibrant, exciting, engaging and personally relevant to students. Teachers will be perceived as ‘credible, interested and current’ – in lives where currency is everything, where students have newsfeeds on their laptops and sports scores on their mobile phones. “Students these days don’t see most teachers as current, even though they may respect their knowledge.”

Students feel so comfortable in an internet world – they have ownership of it; its what they do on a daily basis, and “we have to be a part of the world students are living in” if switched-on students are what we want.

This video was created by the Memorial university of newfoundland and Labrador, and they have also created two others that link to this one: 

Learner Centered e-Teaching: Part 1

Learner Centered e-Teaching: Part 2


Web 2.0 Tools in Your Classroom

I really like Mark Woolley’s slide on the benefits of connecting people via Web 2.0:

  • collective intelligence – collaborative
  • transparent – instant gratification
  • non-hierarchical – democratic
  • potential for passion – ownership
  • open to public – real recognition
  • permanence – searchable resource