My Personal Learning Network

Three months ago, who would have thought that I would have my very own blog and become an engaged member of Twitter! This semester has been instrumental in developing my online presence. It definitely threw me out of my comfort zone and challenged me in a lot of ways, but all for the better. The learning didn’t stop at just blogging or twitter either, but continued into creating wikis, google docs, pinterest boards, and exploring various methods of creating media presentations online. I had no misconceptions going into ECS 210 – I knew I was not technologically literate. However what I didn’t count on, was actually benefiting from the social media used during the class. If I am honest, I thought I would participate in Twitter and write on my blog for a couple months, and then when the class was over I could just forget about all my accounts and go on with my life as usual. However, I’m about to tell you about the journey that changed my thinking.

I have had a twitter account for over a year, however I had zero tweets of my own before ECS 210. My online twitter account @ashleyarndt19 has grown immensely in the last couple months. I have followed around 40 people, and about 30 new people have began following me. This may not seem like a very large number, but considering where I started from, I am quite satisfied. I began to engage in twitter in a very meek way, “favoriting” things every once in a while, slowly escalating to bravely “retweeting” an idea, and eventually doing the unthinkable – producing my very own tweet, with my own original thoughts (or at the very least, directing people to someone else’s original thoughts through links). That’s when it happened. Someone favorited my tweet. That’s when all fear disappeared. I started browsing through twitter, exploring hashtags, different accounts, and following links. There is an incredible amount of information and resources out there – we just have to look. I’ve been a part of a couple different conversations, offering my opinion or a resource that could help. I have to say it’s nice to feel like you are benefiting others’ learning! I’m still fairly new and inexperienced in the twitter world, but I plan to continue using it and expanding my knowledge. If I’ve made this much progress in the last couple months, imagine where I will be in a year!

The next scary thing to tackle was blogging. I’m not much of a writer, and I’m not one who enjoys writing much so I knew blogging would be a challenge for me. However it has been a real growing experience for me. So I first created my blog, and my first couple blogs were pretty short and weren’t hugely though through – I didn’t want to put my honest thoughts up for the world to see in case they were disagreed with. However reading others’ blogs and through seminar discussions in ECS 210 I realized that was one of the purposes and benefits of blogs. They can be used as a discussion to change/refine/rethink thoughts. There was one blog in particular of Josh‘s that echoed my thoughts on our autobiography’s – thoughts that I didn’t think anybody else had. How would we know if we never shared? That was the point that I began to be more free with my blog posts and start to put things out that maybe, just maybe, others would have a different perspective about. Guess what? Nothing bad happened! I had some good face-to-face conversations about some of the things I wrote about. I can’t say I commented on others’ blogs as much as I would have liked, as I was getting used to the blogging scene as a whole. However, I spend a great deal of time reading my peers’ thoughts and appreciating their thoughts and views. I hope to continue this in the future.

Once I began to get comfortable with blogging, I could really appreciate the other small details of it. I remember seeing Kara‘s blog page and being in awe. Then Julie Machnaik talked about it in seminar and she showed us how to do certain things. For someone as technologically illiterate as me, this was a huge help! I went home that day and redesigned my blog, adding widgets and other pictures. Looking back on my blog, I can already see my growth. I already have different, more educated views on some of my earlier blog posts and I think that that was the point. I am able to see my progress as an educator which makes me want to continue with my blog, getting my thoughts out there and continuing to expand my PLN.

Group projects have shown me the benefits of wikis and google docs. For an inquiry project, we even created our own wiki on bullying awareness filled with resources to share with others. I used to use pinterest boards to simply categorize my interests, but now I use them to create categorized resources and am able to tap into others’ resources as well as share my own.

All of the social networking that I have learned to do is about give and take. I can find as many resources and as much information as I want through links on twitter and blog posts, but there is benefit in sharing what I have as well. My personal learning network is already coming in handy. I have been given an opportunity to go to Malawi on a pre-service internship this summer and I get to share what I am doing with way more people than I could have a couple months ago. @UKSchoolTweet, an account based out of the UK that “shares education and learning related information” retweeted my blog post about my trip to Malawi – that opens up a number of a new people to learn what I am doing!

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I’m Going to Malawi!

Hey everyone!

I have gotten the incredible opportunity to spend a month in Malawi, Africa this summer with an organization called World Camp! World Camp is a non-profit organization that is committed to empowering children in impoverished communities around the world through education. World Camp teaches HIV/AIDS prevention, gender equality, nutrition, environmental awareness and human rights. A ton of what we have been learning about in all of our classes. I’m so excited to put what I have been learning into practice!

This organization was actually started by a group of college students who wanted to make a difference in the world. What i’ve learned is that we have more influence than we know.

One of the biggest things that I believe in, in regards to education, is that education equals opportunity. Each day I will be working to make sure local students understand the keys to prevention and empower them to spread awareness. I can’t think of a better way to spend my summer than to empower students! Isn’t that what we’ve been learning to do?!

I’m grateful for the tools that we’ve been learning to build a social network in this class as well because I need your help! I need to raise funds to support this opportunity and the children I will be working with! If you cannot help me financially, I ask that you consider sharing what I am doing and spread the word! Never underestimate social media! Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to sharing more about this opportunity in the future!

If you wish to donate, or if you’d like to find out more of what i’m doing, you can go to http://www.worldcamp.co! Donations can be made in my name if you are willing and able to do that, or you can contact me directly!