What is a Professional Learning Network? A professional learning network is a node of individuals that exchange information for the purpose of gaining knowledge. This concept is the main focus of the connectivism learning theory that George Siemens and Stephen Downes developed in 2004. The individual learner creates a network through online connections using various forms of media connecting to other individuals, both personal and professional, and uses these connections to receive or send information. PLN’s are a very fast growing method of keeping in touch and developing new relationships on both levels.
In the area of education, a PLN can be a vital source of information for new and innovative methods of instruction. Teachers are always looking for a way to improve a lesson or activity and sometimes local resources just do not have what is needed. This is when the PLN can be the crucial link between frustration and success. A PLN can provide resources from across the world in seconds, with insight and ideas that a few years ago were not even a possibility.
As I started to develop my Professional Learning Log map (PLN), there was a lot more to it than I realized. The map started with the obvious inputs being the most relevant in regard to usage, Boise State, my social network, and education. I soon came to realize that as the map grew there were more and more methods for contact being used then first thought. The developed map also helped me realize that I need to connect all the areas of my PLN, not leave them on islands hoping to find them connected at some point. By being more proactive in developing my PLN, it will enable me to be better connected across the spectrum. The map also revealed some areas of the network that are neglected too often and with better usage they could be the connections that bring it all together. One of these tools is LinkedIn, this is a strong source for connecting to viable resources and developing new professional relationships. In conclusion, a good PLN will assist with any professional becoming more educated and informed individual.
The presentation is intended to be a general process in which a school or school district would follow to create a Technology Use Plan. The plan covers basic steps that would be taken from the initial phases all the way through to the implementation of the plan. The presentation was developed for my Educational Technology 501 course at Boise State University.
I wonder how many teachers know what their school or district’s Technology Use Plan is for this year, next year and in five years! I would think that not many do know and are not privy to this information. After reading through the Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan (1996) and the National Technology Educational Plan, I understand how important it is that all teachers know what their school or district has planned for the classroom and school in terms of new technology. A Technology Use Planning is a joint effort from many different sectors of our community, faculty, teachers, administrators, parents, local technology professionals, and business people. The collective input from a planning committee should have a common goal in mind when setting out to create a Technology Use Plan. This plan would include short and long term goals based on the application(s) and technology. The plan’s focus would be to incorporate application(s) and technology into the school and classroom to assist and ensure the success of the learners through the use of the technology and application(s). The NCREL defined a Technology Use Plan as “An effective technology plan is based on the shared vision of educators, parents, community members, and business leaders who have technological expertise. It ensures that technology strengthens existing curricula and supports meaningful, engaged learning for all students. It also specifies how the technology will be paid for and how its use will be supported” (1998).
Now that the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 is out and available for review we can see how the federal government is planning to address the use of technology at all levels of education from k-12 to higher education. The plan is intended to take five years to take shape and be in full operation. The NETP has addressed five goals and recommendations for successful implementation. The goals and recommendations are listed as:
1. Learning: Engage and Empower – This addresses the learner in a way that will empower and engage the learner to participate in a learning environment in and out of school in a creative, knowledgeable and ethical manner in a society that is networked globally.
2. Assessment: Measure What Matters – Educators will utilize the power in technology to assess all learners in a timely manner using data readily available through the use of appropriate technologies and incorporate continuous improvements when warranted.
3. Teaching: Prepare and Connect – Teachers will collaborate via technology to share data, content, expertise, and learning experiences to create a more effective learning process and environment to ensure the success of all learners.
4. Infrastructure: Access and Enable – An infrastructure for success will be made available to all teachers and learners when and where they need it.
5. Productivity: Redesign and Transform – The educational sector will incorporate all forms of appropriate technology in a more efficient manner to improve learning outcomes.
I believe the NETP addresses a lot of glaring problems and concerns in a positive and effective way that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of all educators in improving learner outcomes.
There are however a few areas in the NETP that are concerning. The NETP states “We will close the achievement gap so that all students – regardless of race, income, or neighborhood – graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers” (NETP 2010). This statement seems to be very bold and somewhat inconceivable unless a few things happen that could be detrimental to the educational system. In an era of reduced funding, lower standards and greater economic stress for most families, especially lower class, we see younger people working instead of going to school to help pay bills. We need to hold learners more accountable for their education instead of lowering our standards to ensure that all learners graduate from HS.
The Executive Summary of the NETP raises a lot of questions in their statements that should be addressed to allow for clarification as to how the statements(goals) will be accomplished.
John See (1992) raises a valid point in his argument that technology planning should be constructed in way that allows for shorter time periods to accomplish the set goals for the district and schools. By planning for long term accomplishment, the district and school almost ensure that funding for future technologies will not be adequate and foreseeable technologies may be obsolete or out dated when the plan matures. See recommends a plan of approximately two years and even a year if possible to allow for reevaluations on a more frequent basis. I agree partly with this method of planning. Short term planning can have a positive effect on the application and integration of new technology and save money in the long run. Developing a long term plan in conjunction with the short term plan will allow the immersion of the new technology into a solid foundation of integrated instruction. Only developing a short term plan can have an adverse effect if teachers and learners spend significant time relearning the new technology. The incorporation of a leveled(staged) technology plan can be extremely effective financially and educationally in the classroom.
See suggests that the problem with most technology use plans is that the focus is on the inputs not the outputs. This suggests that the plans set their goals on integrating technology into the classroom just for the sake of adding technology with no clear application of utilizing the technology other then enhancing the curriculum. See states “Develop a plan that specifies what you want your students, staff, and administration to be able to do with technology and let those outcomes determine the types and amount of technology you will need” (1992). The common approach to adding technology into the classroom is to buy a computer, however there are many other forms of technology that can be utilized in the classroom as integration into the curriculum. The forms of technology include but are not limited to: digital cameras, video cameras, microphones, TV’s, web cams, digital pads, kitchen tools, woodworking tools, and art supplies. I agree with See that more attention needs to be paid to the application of the technology as an output device and not having technology just to have it. The new technology should not only enhance the learning but more so improve the learner and the outcome of the learner in a digital global world.
In my eight years of teaching experience I have worked for a very large school district and a smaller school district. It seems that the larger the district the more micro managed it tries to be. In the five years with the larger district we were constantly adding new programs without giving them a chance to root and establish a solid foundation for testing the success or failure of the program. The first half of each teacher development day was spent in front of a computer or video screen learning a new program to help integrate technology into our classroom instruction and assessment. In the smaller district the new technology or application is given time to flourish into a successful program creating a solid foundation for the learner, teacher, school and district. A technology use plan should be collaborated between many resources such as teachers, faculty, administration, local professionals and parents to develop a concise plan that spans a duration that is appropriate for the individual district. The use of short and long term goals would best suit mast if not all districts to allow for some flexibility and a vision for the future.
I believe my school district is on the right track as far as how and when to introduce new applications for classroom instruction, but we are lacking in the inclusion of teachers and faculty in developing the technology use plan. The NCREL states clearing where we are in our educational system and integrating technology. “Technology is transforming society, and schools do not have a choice as to whether they will incorporate technology but rather how well they use it to enhance learning” (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory & Illinois State Board of Education, 1995).
In the push for educational reform and accountability placed on educators, I believe we are over looking critical questions regarding education. In an era of major cut-backs in education, teachers are finding themselves in a quandary of questions on how to stimulate today’s learner. Also, with a major influx of technology into our daily lives, both in a positive and negative manner, teachers are wondering where the money will come from to incorporate the new forms of technology into their classrooms. Education is constantly evolving and so are those in the profession, teachers and administrators. Teachers are going through professional development programs; yearly, monthly and sometimes weekly to improve their abilities to teach today’s learner and how to use the technology resources that are available to them through their school or district. Teacher professional development is not only encouraged by school districts but required by most school districts. What is teacher professional development?
Teacher Professional Development (TPD) is a systematic method of promoting the growth of the professional teacher to ensure the success of the learner in the classroom. TPD is a constant and intensive approach to the improvement of a teacher’s and administrator’s effectiveness to provide the best possible education for all learners. TPD is obtained through in-house workshops, departmental collaboration, conferences, and enrollment in higher educational programs or degrees. In order for a TPD to be effective it would have to address areas of need that relate to content, curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
There are three common models of TPD that are utilized by individuals and school districts. The models are Standardized TPD, Site-Based TPD, and Self-Directed TPD.
Standardized TPD tends to be delivered in a method of training in a group setting, on –line or via video. The focus is on presenting new skills and knowledge that will be incorporated into the classroom. This type of TPD more often then not focuses on ICT’s using the Cascade model.
Site-Based TPD is usually a more intensive TPD program that focuses directly on school, teacher, or learner deficiencies. This form of TPD is generally presented by master teachers or mentoring teachers for ongoing professional learning. Collaboration between many teachers is also a strong form of site-based TPD. This method of professional development can tend to be labor and time intensive.
Self-Directed TPD is just that, self-directed professional development in areas of need or deficiency of the individual teacher. The additional knowledge is gained through videos, observing other teachers during instructional time, journal subscriptions, and higher education beyond the teachers’ current degree, taking courses offered by the school district for TPD, or performing case studies. This type of TPD is either a last resort due to no programs being offered in a school or district or the motivation of a teacher to improve the current teacher’s knowledge base.
In my school district we use a variety of all three models. Mondays are dedicated to TPD in many different ways. The entire faculty will spend the first Monday of the month meeting and going through some sort of instruction on current programs, data analysis, or new programs to be implemented in our instruction. We also spend one Monday meeting as a department to review classroom goals and district paperwork. The school district also allows the teacher the freedom to pursue individual professional development by offering courses in the summer that are sponsored by local colleges.
The most common areas of need in my school are classroom management and incorporating forms of technology into the classroom. The district has offered courses in classroom management in the summer course list and also uses an EYE program for new teachers. The EYE program is a mentoring teacher that meets with new teachers each year for three years on a monthly basis. The mentor and new teacher go over needs of the teacher, classroom management, issues in the classroom, and reflections of the teacher on daily and weekly instructions. The program works very well and helps teachers not feel isolated and overwhelmed. The Site-Based model is by far the most effective and used in my school district. This model shows great results and has helped many new teachers become very successful in the classroom.
154488_929074316_914677437.pdf. (n.d.). . Retrieved from http://pdfserve.informaworld.com.libproxy.boisestate.edu/154488_929074316_914677437.pdf
pddefinition.pdf. (n.d.). . Retrieved from http://www.state.nj.us/education/profdev/pd/teacher/pddefinition.pdf
Professional Development for Teachers. (n.d.). . Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/educatrs/profdevl/pd2prof.htm
I am new to RSS and have a big learning curve before becoming proficient with the program. However, in the short time that I had a chance to use RSS I can see why it is so popular and such a benefit to the internet society no matter what your purpose is on the internet. The program allows you to organize blogs and article and other sources of information into a neat little package that lets you see when there is new information for each subscribed source without having to open a new window or tab for each source. A few of the benefits of using RSS programs is:
- No more new tabs or windows to read information
- No more subscribing to sites to get information from that site
- Able to read new information while staying in the RSS program
- No adds to sift through
- Able to target more people with posts at a greater rate
- Bookmarking is easy with the RSS symbol that Firefox and Internet Explorer use
- Bloglines, Newsgator, Yahoo, MSN and others
- Eliminate junk mail by subscribing to news and other sites without using your email
This type of sorting program has been around since the late 90’s and was only used by those in the know. Now it is your turn to be in the know and utilize this great source of organizing information without adding all sorts of software to your computer.
D’Angelo, J. M., & Woosley, S. A. (2007). Technology in the classroom: friend or foe. BNET, Reference Publications. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3673/is_4_127/ai_n29358572/
This survey report takes place in Australia and is conducted on learners from the ages of 4 to 5 that attend early education programs. The survey addresses the use of computers at an early age and the significance it has on the learners in the classroom and at home. The report addresses the effects that denying the learners the use of computer technology as part of a student centered environment may be detrimental to the learner’s advancements socially and electronically.
Pronsky (2001) points out that the current generation is immersed in technology and is the first to start at the earliest age possible. Therefore, denying this generation the use of technologies in the earlier grade levels may have a negative effect on the learner.
The report addresses gender bias and the effects it has on both genders. The report provides several tables illustrating the results of the survey.
Reconnecting students in alternative education — The Journal. Retrieved March 1, 2011, from http://thejournal.com/articles/2011/02/03/reconnecting-students-in-alternative-education.aspx?sc_lang=en
This article takes place in Kingsville Independent School district, Kingsville, Texas. It addresses the use of technology to allow Disciplinary Alternative Education Program learners to rejoin the mainstream education facilities. The school district utilizes several different forms of technology to reconnect the learners to their home school and peers. The article gives programs used and statistics showing the positive effect it has had on the learners and the school district budget.
Restructuring for learning with technology. ERIC. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED341383&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED341383
This paper is collection of three separate papers, all of which discuss the implementation of technologies into the classroom. The papers also address necessary restructuring to allow the use of new technology in the classroom. The first paper discusses the restructuring for learning with technology and the possibilities for synergy (Sheingold). The second paper points out the role of computers in the restructured classroom (Collins). The final paper takes us to the future as we imagine technologies role in the restructuring for learners (Dede).
The paper was published in 1990 and gives us look back at what was then and how technology was viewed in education. You will find that the arguments for and against the use of technology in the classroom have not changed much in two decades. The debates still continue as newer technologies advance into the classroom.
Technology in the classroom. Retrieved March 1, 2011, from http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/techinclass/print.htm
This article addresses the increasing illiteracy rate, the projected figures for 2050, and how a better use of current technology in the classroom could improve the current and projected figures. The article brings to light a few programs that are already available to school districts through federal funding. One such program is NCLB Title II-D-1&2. The author points out new ways of implementing and developing methods for incorporating new technologies into the classroom to improve the literacy rate in all learners. The article provides many positive methods for improving illiteracy through the use of current and new technologies so long as they are used to fullest potential of the technology.
Zevenbergen, R. (2008). Computer use by preschool children: rethinking practice as digital natives come to preschool. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 33(1), 37-44.
D’Angelo and Woosley provide us with both sides of the argument, whether the use of technology in the classroom is beneficial or detrimental to students. The authors point out a few of the arguments against technology in the classroom and give references to each point. The authors also give us the flip side to the cons by providing compelling arguments for the use of technology in the classroom. Over all I enjoyed reading the article and would recommend it to any educator.