aPLaNet Using a professional social network

Welcome to the video series explaining some
of the basic concepts and tools of the aPLaNet project One of the main goals of this project is to
show teachers how to keep up with their professional development through the use of Social Networks. Social Networking as a tool for learning is
relatively new, but today; hundreds of thousands of educators are connected through various
social networking sites and hundreds are joining every day. What is a Social Network? A social network is a website which allows
you to connect with other users and share information, activities, interests, news,
photographs and ideas or viewpoints. Chances are you aleady belong to one – according
to Wikipedia, at the time of creating this video, 46% of the world population belongs
to some social network or other. But why should we use Social Networks for
Professional Development? How do Social Networks respond to the way
we learn and the way we hope to develop as foreign language educators? Perhaps the answer lies in social group theory
which tells us that people learn best in social groups, beginning with the family as the first
social unit or group we belong to, school later, university, teachers’ associations-
an idea carried forward into the digital age and expressed by George Siemens, in his theory
of connectivism All this points to Networked learning as a
great way to keep up with our Professional Development in a free and autonomous manner
and this is where Social Networks can help you. Language teachers – always among the first
to embrace innovative ideas – have started using these social networks to communicate
with colleagues all over the world, creating their own Personal Learning Networks, PLN’s
for short, exchanging ideas and resources, as well as discussing issues of interest to
educators, putting connectivist theories into their daily lives. Let’s begin with Facebook which is perhaps the most popular Social Networking
interface among teachers. Many have started using it already to connect
with friends and family – very easy to join and use – perhaps that’s why it’s so popular
– Once you get started, it’s very easy to
share links, photographs, videos and even documents with your friends. You can also join Facebook groups created
by other teachers, educational institutions etc. or any other group you share a common
interest with. And, of course, you can create your own pages
and groups for your pwn students or for sharing ideas with your colleagues. On Facebook, teachers can join open as well
as closed or even secret groups, something which is very popular amongst educators who
use it with their students. One suggestion we would make is that if you
plan to use Facebook as a teacher for your professional development, its a very good
idea to create a separate, teacher account and keep your personal account for family
and friends private and separate from your teacher account. Nings Nings are also very popular amongst educators
especially as they are standalone networks with a very sharp focus on a common goal within
each online community. Nings are also highly user friendly, professional-looking
platforms that allow sharing resources and organising online content and events. Each Ning is separate and it can be made public
or private, allowing anyone or selected individuals access to its content. Once you are a member, you get your own personal
page where you can upload documents, photographs and videos, write blog posts, organise or
participate in events, take part in forum discussions and easily invite your contacts
to the Ning. You can even create special interest groups
within the Ning or join existing ones created by colleagues and share ideas and content
of specific interest with them. Last but not least, Twitter, a major tool
for continuous professional development . Twitter is excellent for the immediate sharing
of ideas and opinions, as well as links to interesting resources. Since it only allows you 140 characters per
tweet, as status updates are called, what you write has to be brief and to the point. This is what makes it ideal for the busy professional. You can ask your colleagues a brief question
and get a dozen answers within minutes! Many users follow Twitter in their browser,
and you can also follow it on your mobile phone, but by using an application like TweetDeck,
you can easily monitor different threads of discussion – usually beginning with a hashtag
# – check your direct messages and even share photographs, videos and documents with a couple
of clicks! All you have to do is find teachers to follow,
something which will be an important focus of our mentoring process. Through participating in one or more of these
Social Networks you will be able to learn when and where free online events are
happening access useful links on language teaching
find great resources for your lessons which are tweeted around the clock
follow blogs posts written by teachers for teachers
connect with inspiring and passionate educators who are keen on sharing
find out about the latest web tools make your lessons more motivating
connect your classes with students from around the world
manage your professional development in an autonomous way To be in charge of your own professional development
is the major objective of aPLaNet , an EU funded project whose ambition is to give you
the tools and knowledge to participate in all these exciting and informative conversations
in order to become a connected teacher! It’s up to each individual teacher decide
whether to use one, two or all these Social Networking Tools exercising choice and autonomy
in their own learning. You can find more information about all three
Social Networks in our Teacher Guide as well as through joining our Ning and connecting
with a mentor who will help and guide you on how to use each tool both for your own
professional development as well as a teaching tool with your own foreign language students. Thank you for listening and hope to see you
soon on the aPLaNet Ning.

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