Are you ready to grow? What's holding you back?

Are you ready to grow?    What's holding you back?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Personal Learning Networks

Working collaboratively with others fosters learning. Bringing students away from the model where they feel they can only learn from the teacher will help them realize the value of others. Learning needs to take place in our every day activities. Everytime we observe someone else or ask questions we grow. Creating networks of friends, peers and colleagues is not something new for us. However, today we can expand that network of people to those all over the world, the quantity and variety of individuals is broader. What does that mean for our learning and the education of our students?

A learning network can help us sift through all the data that is constantly available to us and identify the information that will be most useful to us. It helps us learn from others, but also encourages us to participate and contribute to the learning of others. This can be so valuable to all of us.

I have not yet taken the opportunity to create individual learning networks with my students, but have created one as a class for the human body unit we are working on in science class. The students have been enthusiastic about checking what new information has come to us each day and taking the time to respond has helped them to work collaboratively as a class. My only frustration is the fact that social networking as a whole is blocked in my school. The Websense that we use has allowed me to access some of these network connections using quota time, which is only about 10 minutes at a sitting.

How do we create 21st century schools that encourage our students to create networks and collaborate with others, but also keep our students safe? I believe education is the answer, not avoidance!


Jeff Utecht said...

I agree! I think schools have to start creating social-network sites at our schools that we can control and all students to create those connections. There is software out there that is FREE that schools could use to set up a social-network for their students. is a free site where you can set up a social network that is protected. Or you can download and set it up on a server in your school.

We need to start using social-networks in our schools so we can teach students how to be safe. We can't teach them to be safe unless we're in that space with them. It's like learning to drive without being able to drive a car...sure we can talk about it...but you've got to put time in behind the wheel before you really know what it feels like! Education must do the same. We must understand it not block it!

Mrs. Parsons said...

Thanks Jeff, I will try those suggestions for free software. I had set up some of my students on the Google blogging and the blocking has made it difficult for them to participate. Maybe one of these will work better.