NCCE 2011 is in Portland, yeah baby!

I’m so thrilled when NCCE 2011 comes to Portland because that means I get to sleep in my own bed and show my PLN buddies the beautiful city.  Early bird registration ends January 31st so get your registration in ASAP.

Here are my plans:

Wednesday 3/2/11 Attend the Teacher Librarian Summit II with Mike Eisenberg.

Thursday I will be giving a workshop in the afternoon:  Integrating Google Tools 4 Teachers.

Friday:  I will attend the concurrent sessions.

How networked learning works in MS Science class

A 7th grade student gives a tour of her personal learning environment. This project was conducted as part of dissertation research implementing the use of networked learning and construction of personal learning environments in a 7th grade life science class.

Read more about this project from Wendy Drexler

Building at PLN at NCCE

I got home last night from the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) conference in Seattle.  I’ve attended this conference off and on for many years and have presented sessions the last two.  I was really looking forward to meeting more of my NW friends in my PLN.  There wasn’t much activity on #ncce10 the week before the conference but I tried to reach out to those who said they were attending and say Hi and introduce myself.

Hanging out and learning in the Blogger's Cafe at NECC09. Photo by Kevin Jarrett.

I arrived Wednesday afternoon, and to my disappointment, I found out that there was no designated “Blogger’s Cafe” or “PLN Plaza” for folks to meet one another, share new ideas or just hang out in between sessions.  I found this time so valuable last June at NECC09.

Throughout the NCCE conference there were a few people Twittering about their sessions and I gleamed a few good ideas from their tweets and even added some new folks to Twitter –  but never really had the opportunity to meet very many people face-to-face except a few GCTs and DEN folks.

I was expressing my concern about the lack of a designated hang out space (that had free Internet access)  with fellow GCT Martha Thornburgh at lunch and she agreed and she suggested we bring up this idea to the NCCE Program Chair, Becky Firth.  We caught Becky in the hallway and explained our idea of the PLN Plaza and offered our assistance for next year’s conference. Becky was open to the idea – so now we need to figure out how to make a PLN Plaza some place people want to hang out, share, and learn from each other.

Developing a strong PLN takes time, commitment and leadership.  If you have any ideas of how you have organized or participated in the planning of this type of space at a conference –  we would appreciate your ideas.

Reading and writing Blogs to build your PLN – Part III

“A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list”

Educators blog for many different reasons. They blog about their experiences teaching, their philosophies, and their methodologies.  They share projects their students are working on or use their blog to organize collaborative projects.  Some blog to process something they’ve read or heard about at a conference session.

Steve Hargadon writes, “blogs are about communicating. You observe your experience, reflect on it, and then write about it. Other people read your reflections, respond from their perspectives by commenting or writing their own blog article. You read their perspectives, often learn something through their eyes, and write some more.


  • Start out by subscribing to educational blogs using RSS and your favorite blog aggregator – like Google Reader.  Following and reading posts in your reader is like reading the newspaper everyday.  You get a feel for what’s going in the world and sometimes it sparks your interests.
  • When you discover a post that speaks to you, add a comment to further the conversation.  Often, the author of the blog will respond to blog comments.
  • There are NO rules that you MUST have your own educational blog.  Many social networking sites like Classroom 2.0 give you your own space where you can post your own thoughts.
  • If you feel like you have something to share, consider setting up your own blog using Blogger, WordPress or EduBlogs.
  • A blog can be whatever you want it to be:  resource sharing, learning reflection, photo sharing, book reviews podcasts — whatever is your passion.
  • Share that you have new blog posts on Twitter or other social networks to encourage comments on your posts – but do moderate all comments because of spammers.


  • ISTE newbie project – Beth Still used her blog to promote the ISTE newbie project. She wanted see if it was possible for a regular classroom teacher from Nebraska to leverage the power of Twitter to accomplish a goal. She wanted to see if her PLN could work together to raise $1500 to send a teacher to NECC.
  • I cannot believe how many times I am talking to a teacher and I mention an idea, tool or resource and I find myself going back to my own blog or pulling up a post that I just read to share with the teacher.  Blogging is like recording collective memory.  So useful – especially if the authors tag their posts. ~Colette Cassinelli


  • Bloggers appreciate it when people make the effort to comment on blog posts.
  • Some interesting debates have occur in the comments sections of blog posts.  Asynchronous commenting give people time to craft their  message and polish up the writing before it is public to the world.
  • You control the message and purpose of your blog.
  • Tagging your posts is like creating a directory of all of the posts.


  • Some people are blogging less because they are spending more time on other networks – like Twitter.
  • Hard to build up an audience of readers
  • Takes time to read and compose blog posts.
  • If you find that you are not commenting to blog posts or are bored by the posts in your Google Reader – unsubscribe – and find some new blogs to follow.  You need to keep it fresh


Please share your ideas of how reading a blog and/or writing a blog has helped you to build your PLN.  Thanks!

Using Social Networking sites to build your PLN – Part II

“Repeat after me, this is not an information revolution, it is a relationship revolution”
~John Hagel

Social networking is a means of communicating and sharing information between two or more individuals using an online community.  There are as many types of educational social networks online as there are interests and subject areas.  The main goal of getting involved in a social network is to connect with others who share your same interest, learn from each other by participating in the community, and share what you are learning or creating.


  • NingJoin a Ning. Anyone who has a passion and interest can create a Ning site – but it takes a community to build it and maintain it.  Choose one or several Nings to join but be an active community member.  Create a profile so other educators can learn something about you.  Get involved in the discussion forums.  Ask questions, answer other people’s questions, share links, share real classroom projects, and use the Ning to find out about resources.

  • LearnCentral – A free social network started by Elluminate, specializing in educators connecting, sharing content, and being able to engage in live online meetings.
  • Facebook – if you already connect with others on Facebook, consider friending other educators and join groups to have the conversation there like:  Classroom 2.0, Adobe Educational Technologies, Google Certified Teachers, and more.
  • Linked In – connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.  Linked In is more professional than social.


  • Can have more in-depth conversations than Twitter
  • Feels more personal and easier to get to know members of your network
  • Can create subgroups, share event calendars, and view profiles of members.
  • Allows embedding of images, videos and gadgets.


  • Easy to join too many networks and get spread too thin.
  • Need to find system (RSS) to manage conversations
  • Some networks are very active that results in too much information overload


Educational Networking – A listing of social networks used in educational environments or for educational purposes

Education Ning Networks list by Angela Cunningham

Looking for REAL STORIES of how getting involved in a social network has helped you build your PLN.  Please share – thanks!

What is a PLN and why do I need one?

Martha Thornburgh and I are presenting “What is a PLN and why do I need one” at the upcoming NCCE 2010 conference in Seattle.  We are fleshing out some of our ideas for our session so I thought I would blog some of our ideas.

A PLN is a Personal Learning Network.  A PLN is a reciprocal network that you create to learn from, connect with, gather information or resources, create with and finally share what you have learned.  A PLN can occur in your school, face-to-face, online, at conferences or through reading, reflecting and sharing.

The benefits of having a PLN?

Teaching can be a very isolating profession.  Having a PLN allows you to connect and share with other educators in your subject area.  Think of the Verizon network commercials … your network is always there support you, answering questions, inspiring you and encouraging your own learning.

It can take time to build up an active PLN – so don’t get discouraged.  It takes time to build community – but once its established – you can benefit from the sharing.

Our session plan is explain how to develop a PLN and then share various tools that can make that happen.  We are planning to share Twitter, Blogs, Social Networks, Webinars, and Collaborative Projects.  Here’s some notes about our first tool:  Microblogging (stay tuned for more posts).

Microblogging: Twitter/Plurk

“Twitter is the water cooler of the Internet”
~Neil Chambers


Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages.  People write short updates, often called “tweets”  of 140 characters or fewer.  These messages are posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search.

Plurk is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send updates (otherwise known as plurks) through short messages or links, which can be up to 140 text characters in length.


  • Be active.
  • Find other educators in your subject area to follow by following  the followers of edtech leaders or use Educator listings, such as (and skip the celebrities!)
  • Response to tweets using @username or use a #hashtag for specific topics
  • Use ReTweet (RT) to repost your favorite tweets.
  • Use third party tools to manage Twitter
    • Tweetdeck – A desktop application that organizes your tweets into groups, lists, or by #hastag.
    • Twubs- Twitter groups built around #hashtags


  • You can get immediate response to your questions or requests for help.
  • There is an active educator community online who love to share resources and ideas.
  • The RT feature furthers the sharing of ideas & resources that users find valuable or insightful
  • Has great search
  • Plurk keeps threaded conversations


  • Hard to use effectively when you don’t have many followers
  • You miss tweets when you aren’t online.
  • Addicting:  Can be distracting to tweet when you should be doing other computer work
  • A lot of companies are now using Twitter for gimmicky contests or spamming their followers.


  • Dennis Grice posted a Google form to Twitter and Plurk asking his PLN to answer the question “What did you have for breakfast” after reading “George Washington’s Breakfast” with his 3rd graders.  He received responses from all over the world and posted the results in a Google Map.  More info …
  • Every Tuesday, a group of educators hold #edchat on Twitter and discuss the topic for the week.


We know this isn’t an all inclusive review of Twitter and a PLN – but would love your thoughts, ideas or examples of best practices.