Personal Learning Environments

You can read more about my thoughts about Personal Learning Environments on this blog’s “My Pin Board” page. When you visit that page you can interact with my PLE wall on Wallwisher. WallWisher is a really cool tool for getting students to potentially collaborate on a subject or can be used by a teacher to publically showcase examples of students’ work.

Since interacting with the material in this unit I have extended my Twitter “follow” community to include experts recommended by Lisa Jacka, as well as a number of others I found. Finding people to follow is as simple as combing the “follow” community of respected experts you already follow! I have added all these people to a newly created list of people titled “digital educators”.

Reading their tweets and following their leads opens me up to a whole new world of possibilities and of course the opportunities of interacting are exponential! As a result of reading some of the tweets, I have now signed up for my first ever webinar which is on the topic of how web2 and mobile apps can be used in the classroom at the fourth level (analysing) of Blooms Digital Taxonomy. Unfortunately, my computer crashed yesterday and I am operating only on “safe mode” which is limiting my access to certain things including sound, so until it gets repaired in the new year I’m not able to listen in or report much on that for the moment.

However, I am continuing my research and have managed to add a Twitter widget to this site (top right hand corner). Feel free to follow me and read some of my discoveries as I go!

In the meantime you might like to consider how Twitter might be incorporated into your own classroom. Some of the benefits include teaching/learning: good global digital citizenship skills, writing skills for clarity and purpose, research, social marketing, development of personal learning networks, evaluation and analysis skills, technological skills. Fig. 1 below was sourced through a tweet by someone I follow.

(Sample, 2009). Taken from:

I have also used the Camtasia software to make a mini presentation with a written blurb on how Twitter can be incorporated in the classroom.

If you do follow me on Twitter you may notice that I’ve found another really interesting interactive tool which I can see great potential for in the classroom. It’s called Thinglink and essentially it allows you to upload a picture from your own computer or the web and tag it with links to URLs, videos, text, other images, sounds and so on. Once you’ve created it you can share it through all the usual bookmarking and social media sites and others can comment or even edit it! I have created one on Robert Frost as an example.

Thinklink could be used for collaboration, learning and sharing in any KLA, on any subject in a range of ways. Students could be directed for example to work through Bloom’s Taxonomy via guided prompts by the teacher to attach information, media or their own text to a picture which represents the subject under investigation. For example students studying Romeo and Juliet might be asked to find a photo that represents Shakespeare or the play

Make this image come alive with tags to other media!

and then attach some media to it that: showed something they remembered (eg. name the characters in Romeo and Juliet and write a brief description about each); something they understood (eg. contribute to a class blog about the themes and tag the link) … and so on until for creating , they finally attach their own collaborative YouTube clip of a modern reworking of a selected scene!

Of course, students can also use Thinglink to do their own research. Once they join for free they can type any subject into a simple search bar and find pictures with heaps of embeded information. Here’s just one example on Shakespeare.

Another example of how Thinglink might be used effectively to mimic real life activities is in promotional advertising which is on the curriculum for secondary English students. Students who perhaps had a band, had created a product or belonged to a theatre or sporting group and wished to do some promotion could find a picture and attach material that expanded information and access to their product or group. Once done they could then work social media to “sell” it. As Jonas Forth tweets in the link below: “it’s kind of like a digital postcard”.

Market your band or product

So, whether it’s through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Thinglink, Pinterest, WordPress or Diigo – all personal learning environments – we can all find people to connect with in interesting and interactive ways. And, within an instant, we can be creatively sharing information and ideas we never once dreamed possible!