"Network Literacy," according to Meg Ormiston

The following are notes from Ms. Ormiston’s workshop at the 34th Annual Reading Conference at Concordia University Chicago.

She opens up with a provocative statement:

Every single day, I grow professionally.”

To the attendee, most likely a public school teacher or librarian doing officially-sanctioned professional growth, this sounds rather suspicious, if not profligate.  But then Ms. O explains:

“Each evening, I check out my R & D team–my professional learning network.”

So that’s how she does it. Specifically, she uses several important sources for her online PLN:

  1. Twitter–Ms. O’s most important source of current information.  She receives leads, tips, warnings, and gets a sense of what those “in the know” are thinking. Because of the size of her following list (megormi@ twitter), she uses a tweet flow aggregator/organizer called tweetdeckGoogle voice is one find her Twitter gave her. Get it, and you can to set up a new phone number to bring together all of your phones in one place.
  2. Etherpad–a free, online white board set up for collaboration. She and members of her PLN can work on projects easily in real time or asynchronously. It is like having free, 24/7 office space.
  3. Edmodo–which Ms. O described as like Twitter for K-12. She suggests that teachers could set up PLNs with their classes and share info as easily, albeit in 140 characters or less. 
  4. Ning–which allows each free member the Web 2.0 architecture to start, develop, and maintain a social network, much like Facebook, but it is sealed from the sleazy world. Ms. O said “it is a safe container” for your social network. Each kid’s page within the ning functions as a handy portfolio.Ms. O’s ning is her techcamp.ning.com. 
  5. Skype–which Ms. O uses to connect her through audio or video with members of her PLN. It allows for conference calls, global calls, and all free. Additionally, it has search, sharing of big files, a chat feature, and archived Skype “calls” for added searchability. I can attest–after my first Skype session with Prof. Adelle Pate of CUC–that the ability to show your Skype caller a desktop and bring up artifacts for discussion is quite powerful. 

These five were a potent “tool belt” for the Internaut in search of professional growth. Ms. O had plenty to give us, and did not even mention the ever-growing Internet archive of searchable and totally open learning resources provided by places like MIT and Harvard. The great thing about life on the Internet right now is that it only takes effort, no extra money or education, to establish the same nurturing source of professional growth that Ms. O enjoys.

photo courtesy creativecommons  

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