With technology continuing to evolve, it is slowly becoming impossible to be a functioning member of society if one does not advance alongside this progression. Prior to my ECS 210 course, technology definitely played a dominant role in my every day life, however, certainly not in the same light as it does now. Limited to communication, recreation, and document formation, my use of technology had little to no significance in respect to my personal learning network (PLN). Looking back, this was most likely rooted in two causes; the first being that, on a personal level, I had never had an interested in expanding my PLN beyond recreation, and the second reason being that, as a future early childhood education teacher, I was apprehensive about integrating technology into my classroom. However, my eyes have been opened to the possibilities and advantages of developing a strong and diverse PLN.
At the beginning of the semester, as part of the course requirements, I was asked to create this blog. I will be honest with you, originally, I was not overly fond of the idea of having to start and maintain the use of a blog as a way of representing and tracking my knowledge and growth. It seemed like a lot of work that I had little interest in doing. All of the social media sites that I was already an active member of were personal accounts in which I used to share things with friends. However, I will admit that majority of theses posts provided little substance of valuable information and contributed even less to my growth as an educator. In spite of my initial resistance, I now realize that this blog provides me with a space to share my perspectives and interests in a manner that supports my professional development and productively contributes to an online community of those who are aiming to do the same.
Along with the assigned posts required for the course, I also turned to my blog as an outlet to share information about things that I hold of high importance. One of these things is the topic of inclusive education, specifically, special education. I took the time to share two videos addressing this topic. The first one was about a campaign in which I support called Spread the Word to End the Word and the second was a heart-warming message to an expecting mother of a child with Down Syndrome. Although the responses I was required to post prompted me to think critically about the course content and allowed me to share my perspectives, being able to share the type of post like the these two videos increased my interest to continue blogging. It was motivating to think that even if only one person were to view the post, that is still one more person who could potentially help spread the messages that the videos expressed. Similar to this, beyond my own posts, being able to read and respond to the blogs of others has allowed me to further share my perspectives as well as challenge them with those of others. I am thankful for this, as I have learned how important it is to challenge my own thinking and consider the views of others. I plan to continue stimulating my own mind and the minds of others in hopes of creating deeper thinking, similar to this post. The empowering feeling I receive from sharing these posts and provoking thought in the minds of others is definitely my favorite part about the blog.
The questions and comments that have been left on my blog posts is yet another reason why I have come to appreciate having this online space. Any and all of the comments that have been left on my posts, much like this one, have forced me to think deeper into what was said and consider how others may see the topic or issue at hand. This is something that I think is very important to do as an educator. I was also able to further my professional development and my PLN this semester beyond this blog through the use of other social media sites. I created a twitter account that allows me to easily share my thoughts as well as links or quotes in which I think are beneficial for others to see. I have found twitter to be a fun and interactive site that allows me to reach out extremely effortlessly to have my questions answered or to answer the questions of others. It is a great social media tool that allows me to contribute to my own PLN as well as a much larger online community.
Although I feel as if I have already come a long way in developing my PLN and have contributed far more to the online community compared to prior to this class, there is still so much more I could have done, and thankfully, still can do. I wish I had contributed more in a sense of commenting and asking questions on both the blogs of others and on twitter, rather than predominantly sharing my own views and interests. I hope to continue posting on my own blog and updating it to become my professional portfolio, as well as exploring and commenting on other blog posts in hopes of stimulating someone else’s PLN growth. I would like to learn more about other online communities in which teachers commonly use as a way of staying connected and guiding each other through this ever-changing profession.
Through this course and my new and evolving blogging experience, I have learned many things about technology and the overwhelming world of the online community. I have learned that social media is extremely powerful, which can be both positive and negative. It is crucial to explore these sites and perspectives with a critical lens as my own PLN continues to grow and develop. It is also important to remember that a very large audience can view the contributions I make to the online community. This audience will interpret what I say in a variety of different ways and because of this, I must be cautious and conscientious of what I am putting out there. I am aware of the possible problems associated with having a personal learning network, and I have come to appreciate the opportunities that the extensive online community provides to supporting the growth of my PLN, and in turn, my career as an educator.