John has been compiling sites for a long time. He mentioned wikis, diigo, pearltrees, scoop it and paper.li to name a few. I use diigo myself and love it. I can group and tag my links, share them, highlight parts of websites, and they go wherever I go! John shared his diigo group, Literacy with ICT, and I followed it. There is tonnes of stuff there and I get new additions emailed to me.
Another of the curation sites looked at was scoop.it.
Professional Learning for Busy Educators. I'm used to diigo, but if scoop.it has a chrome extension that lets me scoop within my browser the impressive display might just be enough to get me to switch.
The meat of John's presentation was PLNs: what they've been, what they are now and why they are important. John stressed that we need to shift from talking about professional development to professional learning, because development is incremental and finite (eventually you are fully developed), but learning is continuous and infinite. This idea really struck me and I plan to remember it throughout my career, especially if know-it-all thoughts start creeping into my mind.
Teachers have been islands in the past. Working alone with only their training and whatever books they could acquire to look to. In multi-class schools colleagues became an added resource to improve teaching practice. Now a typical teacher's learning network looks something like this:
The internet, especially web 2.0 with its focus on collaboration, has dramatically expanded the professional learning opportunities available to teachers. There are so many options available and they are two-way (sometimes n-way), 24/7, at my pace, based on my interests, in real-time or asynchronous.
Conferences and seminars used to only be available locally, but skype, twitter, live streaming and the like have removed the distance barriers and allows world-wide learning. I started on twitter last year for my ICT course and have found in to be a highly valuable resource for learning from and connecting with people. I blog, use diigo, share with dropbox and google drive. However, there is no set things you need to be doing, or sites you have to join, to have a PLN. John stressed that a PLN is not so much a thing, but a state of mind. A PLN starts, and continues to grow, with a commitment to learning and sharing.
With so much available to us it can be overwhelming thinking of where to start, but John gave us a leg up in that too. He signed up our whole class for the beta version of Maple. It's going to be a hub for sharing resources and ideas, and building relationships with fellow teachers in Manitoba. We each have a library of resources we share and can join groups, make events and follow others. It looks like a great addition to my growing PLN.