Saturday, March 27, 2010

The 21st Century Educator: the power of personal learning networks

by Kim Cofino

"Teachers who know how to use technology efffectively to help their students connect and collaborate together online will replace those who do not." - SN Beach

EARCOS Teachers Conference 2010, Manila, Philippines

presentation resources:
professional blog:

Video: Learning to Change, Changing to Learn

Idea: Parent-Teacher Coffee Morning once-a-month, show a video like the one above, then tell the parents that if they think it's important, talk to your child's educator.

The way we have school today will not last forever, and if you are a teacher, you need to be prepared. If you're not, you will fall behind. We need to learn how to teach online and create PLNs.

Your professional development is there 24 hours a day online. It's PD on fast forward. The best rises to the top, so I'm never concerned about missing something. It will come around again and again. It's responsive because you are filling your PLN with people who helpful to you. You are connected with all of these people, learning together.

The hard part is taking time to create the networks. Before Kim had her PLN, she felt alone and isolated as a teacher. Conferences allowed her to connect once or twice a year. She read Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts by Will Richardson. (Other book recommendations: Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century, A Whole New Mind, The World is Flat, Wikinomics, The Long Tail).

She started with 6th grade and had them make their own blogs and figured she'd make one herself. Now after four years, she's found her voice and improved her writing. Then she discovered online conferences (K-12 Online Conference, entirely free!). She created an RSS feed, formed groups, began making personal connections, and finally, involving the students by investing in collaborations.

The next step was joining Nings. It's like walking into a neighborhood of likeminded people. And then...she discovered Twitter. Kim's recommendation, however, is to do it in this order:

  1. RSS feeds are an absolute necessity. Kim uses Google Reader.
  2. Join a social network. Find a site that interests you.
  3. Start your own blog. That's where you get that depth of thought and model what you want kids to be doing. Kim prefers
  4. Make personal connections. Find people you connect with and stay in touch.
  5. Attend online conferences.
  6. Make a twitter account. Don't forget to make a bio!
By doing this you are creating your digital identity. You need to be in charge of your digital profile and think about your digital footprint. Think before you post, no matter how private you think it is!

Cool Tools:


  1. I am completely amazed and inspired by your notes of ETC2010. I was there (my first ETC), and desperately wanted to write notes, but couldn't manage the timing.

    The fact that I can read yours and reflect on the workshops we both attended is so wonderful. THANK YOU :)

  2. Oh, I'm so glad they are useful for you! I typed them during the sessions. Now I have concrete evidence to share with my students about why they need to learn to touch type! :)