Professional Learning Networks

This week’s article was a podcast entitled 5 Quick Ways to Build Your Professional Learning Network. The podcast covered a variety of different social media available, and methods to create a professional brand.

The main topics are:

  1. Find, Friend, and Follow
  2. Personal Branding
  3. Contributing and Creating
  4. Person to Person Networking
  5. Collaboration

Ed logoI would imagine that most people in the education program today have a good understanding of how to findpeople worth of following. Creating a personal brand is a different story. For the last few years I have been slowly working on creating a personal brand. One of the first steps is to create a personal avatar. This could be as simple as a professional photo, or a logo.

Because I’m a physics teacher, I have two different types of avatar. A fun cartoon version that I use for a logo around my website, and a photo of me dressed in a professional manner.

Part of personal branding comes contributing and creating. Keeping our profiles up to date is one thing, but creating useful content for other teachers, or answering questions and conturing lets a professional stand out. Twitter, linked in, and other social media allow for near instant contributions to the network of professionals.

As our professional learning network grows online, it should continue to grow in person. Workshops, education camps, and meeting are great places to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people! As we meet new people, we can connect digitally and further increase our online network, but with the added bonus of being able to contact the person an a personal level. Business cards with our avatar or logo further aid in our personal branding.

The last step is collaboration. Twitter offers the ability for hundreds of like minded people to chat about relevant and pressing topics. Issues can be worked on from the collective mind of ten thousand educators. Contributing in these not only increases your professional development, but builds yourself a reputation of a local expert and an active member of the culture.

This podcast was very enlightening. Although I have a twitter account, I never knew it could be used so productively. After listening to the podcast, I have a huge desire to go out and get my social media accounts up to date and start contributing to the network in order to build my own personal brand. I can now see how having a strong personal brand and a well established professional learning network can mean the difference between being on a sub list and getting a contract!

Integrating Technology into K-12

This entry is a reflection and summary on the article. Integrating Technology into K-12 Teaching and Learning: Current Knowledge Gaps and Recommendations for Future Research. The article covered some of the barriers that teachers and schools run into with technology, and suggested improvements or solutions.The majority of the articles this study draws from are peer reviewed articles, and all deal with teaching in the classroom. the barriers and strategies were then grouped together and then analyzed

According to the article, there were 6 main barriers affecting technology integration (organized from greatest to least):

  1. Resources
  2. Knowledge and skills
  3. Institution
  4. Attitudes and beliefs
  5. Assessment
  6. subject culture

Reflecting on my own experience in the educational system, I found these barriers to be accurate. The lack of adequate hardware and software was prevalent throughout all of my education with the exception for the classes that were computer based. My 3D design, and photoshop classes where the only times I used a computer in High school, with the acceptation of 1 math class and 1 physics class. Programs like the arts and humanities were obviously lower on the pecking order. Although if the resources had been available, I don’t know if my teachers would have known how to use them anyway!

The paper covered some methods for teachers to gain the knowledge and sills needed, and provided a pedagogy for integrating technology. I’ve included a list with an example for each item in the pedagogy.

a) Replacement – Rather than taping a poem to the wall, project the poem from the computer.

b) Amplification (Accomplishing a tast more effectively or efficiently) – Typing a story rather than writing it down.

c) Transformation (Provide innovative educational opportunities) – Students use databases and graphing software for testing their own hypotheses.


For many schools, class times are short. Half hour to 45min. It is very difficult for to organize a technology activity around such time barriers. Booking labs and moving students are often seen as not worth the trouble. For many teachers, their view of technology isn’t such as to make the bother. Their attitudes are those of using technology to keep kids quiet or as rewards rather than for a key portion of education.

Although this article provides an accurate portrayal of the challenges involving integrating technology into schools, the article didn’t seem to uncover anything extraordinarily new to me. The information seemed dated in regards to their recommendations for computers to have wireless networking, as even in 2006 when this article was published this was becoming common feature. Even all these years since this article was published, the same barriers are present and the same solutions are still being offered. As a pre-service teacher, I feel that it is my duty to learn as much as possible about current technologies that I can be a resource to my school in helping others in the transition.

Technology integration is, and will continue to be a crucial part in the education system. The sooner we can overcome the barriers, the sooner our students can reap the benefits. I believe that technology will continue to become a greater part of the success of the 21st century learner.

Assignment 2: Linking Outcomes to the Technology

I have chosen to use the outcomes for the kinematics unit of Grade 11 Physics 20. Physics is my favorite subject, and one that lends itself so well to the integration of many types of technologies. After all, it’s because of physics we have technology!

Grade: 11

Course: Physics 20

Unit: Kinematics

Outcomes for Physics 20:

  1. 20-A1.1k define, qualitatively and quantitatively, displacement, velocity and acceleration
  2. 20-A1.2k define, operationally, and compare and contrast scalar and vector quantities
  3. 20-A1.3k explain, qualitatively and quantitatively, uniform and uniformly accelerated motion when provided with written descriptions and numerical and graphical data
  4. 20-A1.4k interpret, quantitatively, the motion of one object relative to another, using displacement and velocity vectors
  5. 20-A1.5k explain, quantitatively, two-dimensional motion in a horizontal or vertical plane, using vector components.

ICT outcomes from division 4

C.6 – Students will use technology to investigate and/or solve problems.
Specific Outcomes
4.1 investigate and solve problems of prediction, calculation and inference
4.2 investigate and solve problems of organization and manipulation of information
4.3 manipulate data by using charting and graphing technologies in order to test inferences and probabilities
4.4 generate new understandings of problematic situations by using some form of technology to facilitate the process
4.5 evaluate the appropriateness of the technology used to investigate or solve a problem

Technologies for C.6: Simulations

One the the great things about physics is that it deals with movement and actions. This lends itself well to simulations. Phet Simulations  is a great website where teachers can demonstrate how changing and manipulating data will change charts, move figures and solve problems. Not only does it work well on the smartbaord, but students can use these simulations at home or on their personal computer! Another great simulation resource for physics is called Algodoo, and is a smartbaord compatible real world simulator for Mac or pc. With simulations, students can compare and contrast quantities, and get a first hand feel at motion while investigating and solving problems using technology.

P.3 – Students will communicate through multimedia.

Specific Outcomes

4.1 select and use, independently, multimedia capabilities for presentations in various subject areas
4.2 support communication with appropriate images, sounds and music
4.3 apply general principles of graphic layout and design to a document in process

Technologies for P.3: Websites

Student created websites are a great way to combine the kinematic SLO’s with the ICT outcomes. Students can create online sites from places like weebly or wordpress that incorporate multimedia of all types to support their understanding of physics. Not only can they explain the topics, but they can apply principles of graphic layout with images, sounds, music and multimedia to make great online presentations. They will not only teach themselves, but others too!