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Starting Your Learning Network

A few months ago I asked a question on our family and consumer sciences discussion list about the personal or classroom use of web 2.o and social networking tools. Some of the tool names I included were wikis, blogs, Ning, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I received comments ranging from "yes, I use one or more of these tools" to "what in the world are you talking about?" Another frequent response was "how do I start?"

Well, to oversimply, you just quit asking "how to" and you just "do." I know that isn't how many teachers work - they want to know the background, the pros/cons, and the tips for success BEFORE jumping in. Isn't that what we've been taught and what we teach our students in decision making models and project planning tools such as the FCCLA Planning Process? And maybe, the word "social" is throwing you off. For many educators and professionals, these "social" networks are really personal or professional learning networks. They are what you make of them.

In my Twitter network today, a message about a new resource came across that perhaps can give you the nudge to get started. Because I know teachers want multiple sources of information, I've included a few resources for you. I hope you'll have time to check some of these things out when the school year concludes.

Several family and consumer sciences teachers have asked me why they would want to get involved with these tools, especially when they can barely keep up with the e-mail in their inbox. They are also satisfied with their current streams of information - the family and consumer sciences e-mail list, for example.

I can't answer that question for you. For me, I just can't stop learning. It's what is recharging me professionally right now. Connecting with people from outside of family and consumer sciences and career education has allowed me to consider a variety of perspectives in a non-threatening way. More than once I've read someone's blog post, Twitter message, or listened to a podcast that has challenged my thinking. This is a good thing for someone who has been in education for over 20 years now. Maybe it will be a good thing for you, too.

What learning networks are you using, and what is your result?


  1. Christine, I love your last paragraph. I've quoted you in my latest blog post. You have answered that question for me - and I'm sure for many other people as well.

  2. Just "do"! Many times I will sit and "ponder" about things when I start to think and remember the "could of, should of, would of" and realize it is too late. Thank you for making me realize that the "do" is NOW, not after over analyzing the ins, the outs and the overs! I used to consider myself technology savy, but guess what, when you slow down - it keeps on moving and soon you look back and see how things have changed. Facebook for example - ok, it used to be teen based, not anymore - great contacts. LinkedIn great for networking. Wiki's what a great way to get information out there and to work together when you can't because of location. So much to do, so much to learn!

  3. What an honor to be included on your blog list!! You've put together a nice set of links and information here. Great work! May I help in any way?