How do you find stuff?

26 04 2009

Following on from my Creativity 2.0 post yesterday, a small dialogue began towards the end of my presentation. It was cut short as people had to get to their next event. Everyone (myself included) wants to know how to find those useful 2.0 tools or sites of relevance for teaching. Unfortunately, there is no magic way. Basically, we have to spend some time looking. However, word of mouth works best.

I am not a big fan of the sites/tools littered with ads that target kids to click at banners so I usually do not post about them. There are a lot of meaningless litter sites available to keep kids occupied, but again, I do not post those either. In order to find sites, I first read other tech blogs. Check my tag cloud or categories list for free software, but the good stuff has been posted to the wiki I used here.

Some of the tech blogs I subscribe to are 21st Century Learning, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, iLearnTechnology, 2centsWorth and Learning with Lucie. There are several other sites too. Some good, some bad. I also have a slew of art blogs I subscribe to as well. These ones are much more interesting as they often showcase lesson ideas and student work more concretely. The best thing to do is check who these bloggers link with. What are they reading?

Have a look at Go2Web2.0WebTools4u2use and Web 2.0 Tools for ideas. When I go to various sites, I also look through some of the examples. Look at how users are using it. What are they saying? As a teacher, you will ultimately have to decide if it useful, if you can use it in your class or if you can use it in new creative ways. Try asking your students what they use too. You may be surprised. Another option is to join Diigo. It’s a social bookmarking site that lets you highlight stuff on the web. If you don’t join, you could use their search to see what other people find interesting. Remember though, pedagogy first, tools second.

Build up your Personalised Learning Network (PLN) through blogging, nings or twitter. Craig Roland just published an article for School Arts magazine on this. I couldn’t agree with him more. It’s worth your time reading. You may think all this takes too much time, but trust me, it’s the best professional and personal development you can have. I began blogging and expanding my PLN in August 2008 and I have learnt more from this process than any PD session I have attended. The key is who you follow.

Seriously consider starting your own blog. For me, blogging is not easy. I’m not the best writer and I’m still trying to find my voice on this blog as well. Technically, I don’t blog, I post. There is a big difference. I need to actually do more blogging. You can think whether to start off small or to dive right in. One post a week? One post a month? Currently I am reflecting if I blog (I mean, post) too much. Does it turn off subscribers? Do I annoy them? Is the content useful?

Anyway, good luck and don’t get discouraged. Now that I gave away all of my little secrets, shall I assume you will no longer return here?

; )

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