Learning to Network & Networking to Learn

Well, it’s here! I can already hear the seagulls and detect the faint smell of coconut lotion in the air….That’s right, Summer Break is officially in full swing!  That special time of the year that us New Jersey educators try to renew our minds, bodies and our souls.  While I hope that the feel of warm sand between your toes, salty sea air and warm, ocean breezes will help replenish your body and soul, I thought I’d share some inspiration for your mind inthis last post of the 2008-2009 school year.

Throughout history, humans have always created our own learning networks. When we needed to know how to do something, we sought out the expert in that field and they shared their knowledge. For example, hunters knew who to talk to about the latest in hunting techniques. Farmers knew who to talk to regarding the latest in agricultural technology practices. (And students could talk to their brilliant teachers!) Now we have the Internet to access more information about whatever we need to know. However, now there is not necessarily a need anymore to find “the” expert in a field of study. Instead, we need to create our own network of experts, our own Personal Learning Network.

What is a Personal Learning Network? It is a collection of resources that you can go to when you want to learn something. This includes family and friends, teachers, and people in the local community. It can also include non-human resources, such as books, journals and other forms of media. In the 21st century, there’s also an extensive electronic network of resources that you can – and should – include in your network. This includes resources on the Internet such as webpages and podcasts. But it also includes human resources that are available to you via the Internet- your own personal collection of “experts” on various topics from all over the world! One way to build that collection of experts is via RSS Feeds, which allows you to subscribe to their content and have it delivered to you in your RSS Aggregator (e.g., Google Reader). Every time they produce new content, it automatically gets delivered to you, allowing you to tap their knowledge and wisdom from afar. It helps you to develop your own understanding of the world, to participate in the conversations that are going on, and to have a say in the world that we live in.

There are approximately 9 weeks of Summer Vacation to relax, recover and recharge our educational batteries.  Here are some suggestions I’ve come up with to help you make sure you do all three! 

I hope you have a wonderfully nourishing summer :)

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. – Ferris Beuller


Summer Week

Relax & Recover



Throw away your alarm clock



Join a Professional Group associated with your teaching specialty (ex. NSTA.org, NCHE.net)


Attend a patriotic barbecue

Gather information that interests you by using RSS feeds (ex. Google.com/reader)


Spend time with the family


Subscribe to a Professional Journal/Magazine, or better yet, offer to write an article for them! (ex. Edutopia.org, NEA.org, NJEA.org)


Re-connect with old friends

Find an Educational Blog you like & COMMENT regularly!  Two great places to find out about blogging in education are: Supportblogging.com & Edubloggerdir.blogspot.com

You can also check out some of the blogs in my “blog roll” (see left) 


Go to a concert, play, or baseball game


Learn more about Professional Learning Communities (Allthingsplc.info)


Enjoy a good book


Join an Online Book Club (ex. Shelfari.com or Goodreads.com)



Take a trip somewhere you’ve never been

(I’m going to China!)


Join a Social Bookmarking Group (ex. Del.icio.us or Diigo.com)


Find a new favorite restaurant


Join Twitter- it’s a Personal Learning Network in your pocket! (Twitter.com)


Go shopping and take advantage of the back to school sales


Buy a new alarm clock :)


Join an Online Educator Network



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