Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

A Personal Learning Network for Online Language Educators
I’m learning about new tech tools from my peers!

After listening to a webinar today on PLNs, I realized that I often speak about various facets of personal learning networks but haven’t addressed them head-on. I’m a big advocate of PLNs because of their power to network with peers locally and globally. Additionally, I work from home, so I don’t have the more familiar hangout time with colleagues during breaks or at lunchtime when you would normally spend time discussing various topics. Instead, I’m more likely to attend a Google+Hangout or webinar to interact with peers in my field. Nowadays, I only see my peers face-to-face (F2F) at conferences. I just went back to school for my doctorate this spring, so now I’ll actually meet peers F2f but only during class on Monday nights!

First, allow me to make my own distinction between these two terms: PLEs and PLNs. Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) are formed to provide a depository or “online treasure chest” of great ideas and tech tools that you or your peers discover. You can have a shared PLE or an individual one. Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) are formed to guide our independent or group learning goals and professional development needs within a dynamic flow of information from our peers’ discoveries or that of our own. In my opinion, PLEs are more controlled by the individual or group and therefore static, while PLNs are more dynamic with input and output occurring from a networked community of learners.

Secondly, I’d like to share my own PLN because I think it’s critical to provide real examples and not just theory. Are you familiar with Paper.li? It’s a Twitter app that allows you to aggregate your twitter followers’ tweets into an e-newspaper. The possibilities are endless! I noticed that besides compiling your twitter feed and hashtags (#), it also will siphon your Facebook feed . . . that is if you want it to! “Feed” in this context refers to your followers or friends comments, articles, photos, and links. Paper.li could be the next best thing for social networking for learning communities. Imagine what you could do with it for your school or project! Watch my video demonstration on how to use Paper.li to set up your own PLN: http://www.screenr.com/embed/92Ss

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Twitter, you don’t have to have an account to follow the tweets. Anyhow, I’d like to share some alternative platforms. One example is the use of wikis. I used PBWorks.com to create my first PLE for online English language learning resources: http://mypersonallearningenvironment.pbworks.com/w/page/25570751/FrontPage. Learn how to create a PLE on a wiki from this screencast: https://teacherrogers.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/how-to-create-a-ple-on-a-wiki/. Another idea is to use social bookmarking sites like Diigo.com if you prefer not to collect resources on a wiki. For instance, Dr. Elizabeth Hanson-Smith is curating a Diigo site for TESOL with great resources in all English language teaching and training topics. Here is TESOL’s computer-assisted language learning-interest section (CALL-IS) Virtual Software List that she set up: http://www.diigo.com/user/call_is_vsl

I invite you to subscribe to my e-newspaper, The Online Educator, to become part of my PLN. I follow the EFL/ESL and tech leaders from around the world. Since this paper publishes weekly, it forces me to read about the latest technology tools and how they might be integrated into the classroom. For instance, I’m following the tweets of the Presidents of TESOL France and Chile, as well as IATEFL. Here’s the link: http://paper.li/teacherrogers/1301595898#. Check out these other twitter e-newspapers on similar topics:

  1. This one is by another EVO Moderator, Barbara Sakamoto: http://paper.li/barbsaka/starter-pln
  2. This one is created by the hashtag #ELTchat: http://paper.li/tag/ELTchat

  3. This e-newspaper is created by the British Council: http://paper.li/TeachingEnglish/teachingenglish

  4. This one is created by another EVO Moderator, Jose Antonio Silva for this hashtag, #EdTech: http://paper.li/joseantoniook

Lastly, take a look at these large-scale, professional PLNs to connect with your peers and advance your knowledge:

  1. The Educator’s PLN: http://edupln.ning.com/
  2. aPLaNet: http://aplanet-project.org/
  3. ELT Teachers’ Network: http://celt-athens.grou.ps/home
  4. EFL Classroom 2.0: http://community.eflclassroom.com/index.php

Best Wishes,

Sandra Rogers

Vote for EVO as Top Tech Innovator on The Chronicle

Electronic Village Online

I’ve nominated TESOL’s Electronic Village Online (EVO) for The Chronicle of Higher Education’s competition of top technology innovators in higher education. They’re asking for votes and stories, so please add yours to the event at the link below. If you’ve ever learned with the EVO team, please share your story. As any threaded discussion, they ask that you “like” or reply to my initial post to vote for EVO. (Some site visitors are erroneously posting separate likes of the same person or group.)

Here’s the broad description provided about the competition by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Nominees can come from any area within academe (teaching, libraries, scholarship, admissions, student life, online learning, etc.) or outside of it (companies, government, think tanks, publishing). Basically, we’re looking for people who are thinking big about how technology can change education “and putting their ideas into practice.”

Vote: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/who-are-the-top-technology-innovators-in-higher-education/34638?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

I realize that some of you may not be in higher ed, and don’t need to vote if you are in K-12. Perhaps you’d like to nominate another worthy techie, school or company. Feel free to do so! I just thought that EVO merits a nomination. I don’t feel like I’m voting for myself, even though I’m on the coordination team, because it’s really about the current moderators, mentors and other seasoned coordinators, and the time they devote to make it happen. Many have been giving of themselves professional for the past 10 years!

Personally, my knowledge base for online learning and teaching has greatly benefited from my involvement with EVO for the past two years. I can’t think of any other organization, school or company that has provided such a fantastic menu of learning opportunities, especially for free. EVO is an open source for learning and participants need not be TESOL members to join the sessions.

EVO has provided free professional development on integrating technology into the educational classroom for English language instructors worldwide for the past 11 years. It started as a special project in 1999 by the computer-assisted language learning interest section (CALL-IS) of TESOL. Last year around 1100 teachers participated in the free online training sessions that take place annually in January and February.

Our goal is to allow learning anywhere, anytime, with as little expense as possible. Thus EVO moderators and mentors are all volunteers, and participants need only provide their own Internet access to take part in activities. Participants and experts engage in collaborative, online discussions or hands-on virtual workshops of professional and scholarly benefit. Here’s a listing of our sessions for 2012 with powerful workshops on everything from digital storytelling to video productions on SecondLife to online mentoring and more: http://evosessions.pbworks.com/w/page/48510148/Call_for_Participation2012

PANEL: EVO Session – Virtual Round Table Conference

I participated on this panel as part of the Electronic Village Online (EVO).  I talked about moderating an EVO session in 2010, Internet4YoungLearners.  EVO is an annual TESOL professional development session hosted by the Computer-assisted Language Learning Interest Section (CALL-IS).

PANEL: EVO Session – Virtual Round Table Conference

Sandra Rogers

Blogging for the TESOL 2011 Convention!

I’ve been professionally blogging since 2009, so when TESOL asked for bloggers for their annual convention, I sent them my bio.  I was delighted to find out that I was one of six people selected!  Right away, I thought of ideas to blog: jobs, financial aid opportunities, superstar encounters, and professional development. Since then, I’ve been asked to stay on as a blogger.  Here’s a link to the following blog posts:

http://blog.tesol.org/author/srogers

1. TESOL Rock Stars

2. TESOL Financial Aid Opportunities

3. Great Job Opportunities at TESOL’s Marketplace: Part 1

4.  Great Job Opportunities at TESOL: Volunteer for the Peace Corps (Part 2)

5. Webcasts for those not attending TESOL

6. EVO Provides Free Professional Development Annually

7.   Japanese ESL Teacher Who Experienced Earthquake Determined to Attend TESOL

8. Did you find a job at the TESOL Marketplace? (Part 3)

9.  How to Use Paper.li to Enhance Your PLN

10.  EVO is for Newbies and Techies Alike

11. CALL Resources on Diigo for Teacher Training

12. 3 Basic Tech Tools for Beginning Online Teachers

13. Vote For EVO as a Top Tech Innovator on the Chronicle

14. Another Basic Tech Tool for Online Teachers: The World Clock

15. Join Your Organization

My humorous blog about the TESOL Rock Stars has garnered the most attention.  I even had TEFL International retweet my blog with a “congrats”.  I’d love to hear your feedback.

Your Blogger,

Sandra Annette Rogers

Principles and Practices of Online Teaching Certificate Program

Dear Teachers,

Have you ever thought about telecommuting for work or teaching online?  I just completed a certificate to teach online through my profession.  This yearlong course hosted by TESOL is conducted at the University of Wisconsin via online instruction.  What better way to learn to teach online than taking an online course!  It isn’t a very costly program.  I was able to learn enough from this course to feel comfortable in taking on a new job teaching online at my university.

This course served me well, as I’m excelling at my new job!  Last year, I wrote about making changes, re-educating yourself for the “invisible” jobs.  Trends show that online classes at universities are on the rise, according to the Chronicle of Higher Learning.   This certification is for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) which is part of my profession, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).  However, it is open to anyone from any field.  I was able to design my nonprofit’s website and learn about Web 2.0 tools from this certificate course.

In addition, I’ve been able to get three part-time jobs online!  Now, I’ve gone completely virtual teaching ESL for a company in Israel, teaching reading online for the local university, and scoring tests online.  My nonprofit is wholly online, too.  I’ve even become an online mentor.  I started mentoring ESL instructors in Italy for TESOL and mentoring individuals looking for work for my nonprofit’s mission.

Check out the site:

Principles and Practices of Online Teaching Certificate Program

Your blogger,

Sandra Annette Rogers