Part 3: Personal Learning Network

       Over this semester I have had the opportunity to speak my mind and have my thoughts and questions heard by my peers, professors, and others in the world. Not until recently was this made possible. Outsiders may question how I accomplished this; was it through public speaking or open conversations? However, I didn’t have to do either of these things in order to share my thoughts and questions that I came up in ECS 210. In ECS 210 I was introduced to new tools that allowed me speak my mind without ever opening my mouth. At first I was skeptical and honestly scared of using these new tools. However, I have realized that it was like anything else that is new; you’re hesitant to try it out because you’re unsure how to fully use these tools and to step out of your comfort zone. It’s human nature to take it slow before fully diving in and using something to its full potential. This is what I experienced when I was introduced to blogs and Twitter. I left class feeling very overwhelmed and scared to put my thoughts out their for the public eye as well as worrying that I wouldn’t know how to use this type of technology.

            Now when I look back and reflect on those first few feelings that I felt I realize that I shouldn’t feel bad for being against these new forms of technology. I also now realize that when I introduce technology into my classroom I need to be aware of my students and that they probably will experience similar feelings. Being aware of this I feel I am already more prepared to implement technology into my classroom. My first reaction to technology in the classroom was negative. I now realize that that was an ignorant view that I held. I hadn’t yet been educated on the benefits as well as the importance of technology in the classroom. I can honestly say that I now feel more prepared to incorporate technology in my future classroom. I shared a few posts that talked about technology as well as comments on other people’s posts about technology in the classroom. Other peoples views helped to shape my own view that, as I have said, has began to form due to this class.

            As I stated in my introduction, it was hard for me to write opinionated blogs in the beginning because I was afraid of how others would react. However, I soon realized that I shouldn’t be afraid to post my opinions because others were doing that exact same thing and therefore I was not alone in this new journey I had embarked upon. I found that by reading other peoples blog postings I was encouraged to make my posts more personal. Blogging started to become a weekly habit and I found myself blogging at relatively the same time every week. It became easier and easier to reflect on lectures as well as my own learning. One thing I did notice was that it was harder to write posts that were geared to answer prompting questions. I much more preferred being able to look at the topic as a whole and then reflect on the things that stuck out and were meaningful to me. I did this a few times and found that I got a lot more comments that engaged me and helped to further my thinking on a particular topic.

            I also found that the more I blogged the more I began to see the usefulness of blogging. It allowed me to speak out about concerns I had as well as have others, who also agreed with my opinion or disagreed with them, comment and share their thoughts. I did a few blog postings that were not assigned on the weekly plans and I found that I got the most comments on these postings. When this happened I was really encouraged to continue blogging even once I have completed this course.

            Twitter was another technological way to communicate with people beside me, in my class, or all around the world. I had had Twitter for a while but I had never tweeted before and my profile picture was an ‘egg’ when I began ECS 210. However, as the semester rolled along I found myself tweeting more and more. I like to read articles online and I often wished I had a way to share them with others. Twitter was one thing that allowed me to share useful articles and information that I was reading on my own time. Also through the use of hash tags I was able to categorize my post so that certain people or groups of people saw them. By digitally categorizing my posts I was able to share the things that I found important with professionals as well as colleagues and fellow peers. Tweeting was yet another way to get myself out into the world as well as stir up conversations about major issues.

            Although I used twitter outside of school I found it to be especially useful during class. I was able to tweet comments, questions, or quotes that stood out to me and were meaningful. Some questions and thoughts prompted discussions among my peers as well as with my professors. I found it really neat to be able to listen to the lecturer and be able to also have a conversation with a peer and teacher at the same time. Being able to do this definitely made the lecture more meaningful and made me think more in depth about what I was learning. Through this I was able to create a way to revisit my thoughts during the lecture and create a starting point to a conversation with others after the lecture.

            Throughout this journey in my ECS 210 class I cannot deny that my way of communicating with others has changed for the better. I can now contact professionals and peers in many different ways. Sharing my work, finding resources, and gaining advice is just a few clicks of my fingers away. I have also seen how these forms of technology can be used for professional development. As I stated in the introduction, I strongly disliked being forced to blog and tweet; however, I can now honestly say that I am very grateful for being pushed to explore technology in a professional way. If I hadn’t been pushed then I may have never have tried blogging or tweeting and I would have missed out on building a personal learning network that I know realize I will be using in my future career as well as during the completion of my degree.


One thought on “Part 3: Personal Learning Network

  1. Julie Anne Machnaik says:

    Sarah, I love this statement, “In ECS 210 I was introduced to new tools that allowed me speak my mind without ever opening my mouth!”. I think I’ll use this as a quote to inspire students to do exactly what you did – to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try. You continue by writing, “I found it really neat to be able to listen to the lecturer and be able to also have a conversation with a peer and teacher at the same time” – another excellent example of how technology can be used to deepen the learning, connect with others and provide a voice to all.

    You should be very proud of your accomplishments in ECS210 Sarah. Great to read that you are “grateful for being pushed to explore technology in a professional way” even though, in the beginning you “strongly disliked being forced” – you came along way! Well-done and stay connected!

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