For my personal learning network (PLN), I use Symbaloo to organize various websites and some tools that I would use to gather my sources for a project, research or to expand my network. Aside from Symbaloo, I use Delicious, Screenr, Youtube, Livestream, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Google Chat, and Blogger.
I got in the habit of using Symbaloo. I added a lot more "buttons" that links to websites I can use to do research, help me with my English, access to University pages and etc. It's pretty neat because you can click on a box/button and it'll instantly go to the page that it's linked with. It allows for quick access. Within each button, you can set up a sub category. You can add an "education" button and it'll bring you to another page. In that page, you can add all your sources that relates to education. I have not gotten that far yet. Symbaloo isn't a software or program for your computer but a website that requires you to login. Some people may not like this but the benefit is that you can access your sources and tools from anywhere. You can organize it any way you like as well! Besides using Symbaloo for research and educational purposes, you can also add your social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. It's really personal! I have it set up as my first tab on my Google Chrome so it's always there!
A tool I use for my PLN is Skype. Skype is a great software/program to use in order to communicate with your group members, other educators, and even your family! Instead of physically meeting to discuss a project, you can save travel time and money by using Skype. You can also use it to set up interviews with educators around the world!! The neat thing is that you can have a video chat and an option to do screen sharing. In my opinion, screen sharing is one of the most amazing utility. When I first used screen share, it was free. I used it a couple of days ago and it wasn't free (odd) but it's definitely worth getting if you're working with people from far away. The first time I used it, I was teaching someone how to use Adobe Photoshop. Screen share came in handy because they watched what I was doing on my computer. It's visual learning and it helps. A couple of days ago I used Skype in order to meet with a team member for a group project. We did a video chat and a screen share. The neat thing about Skype is it's not just like a phone call. You are on your computer, talking to someone and having access to all the necessary documents and files you need. Another benefit with Skype is you get to have contact with anyone, anywhere. If I want to discuss a research idea with Professor from New York, I can do that without spending $400 on a round-trip ticket. Besides that, you can also have regular chats. It's a great program that allows you to connect with others. This connection can help you with your studies, research, projects, and etc. It's also a way for you to find assistance or help if needed.
While I was having my Skype session, I used Screenr to do a short recording. Screenr has a free option but the recording is limited to 5 minutes. Screenr allows you to record your screen and save it. You can use this as a tool to record a part of your research or something that may benefit others. You can post this video onto YouTube for others to see. Because it's public, you will get feedback or advice from others. By producing something that helps others, you are also helping yourself. That is one way of learning. Before I discovered Screenr, I used Livestream. I did not use it for educational purposes but it can be. It's also a screen recording program but the difference is you are broadcasting to the public as you are recording hence the name "LIVE-stream". You have the option to save it onto your computer and have it automatically published to your Livesteam website. In a way, this can help your learning and help you expand your learning network. Like in blogs, you can also ask questions in a video and you may get responses. During the broadcasting, you can chat with your viewers. As an educator, you can incorporate Livestream into an activity.
You can publish those saved videos onto Youtube. I use YouTube for my PLN because of the unlimited amount of sources you can gather that can help you with your teachings. You can find inspirational videos, tutorials, activities or lessons you can give to your students, advice from other educators and etc. You can find almost anything on YouTube that can help you. Besides that, you can post your own tutorials, activities, lessons and etc. that can help others. On YouTube, you can also make comments, suggestions or ask for advice. It's another way to contact people.
Another tool I use is Twitter. I have never used it and refused to before EDM310. Now I use it almost every day. It's not only a social networking website but a way for us to share our ideas, articles, and etc. to others. You can build your own network. I have added the educators from my C4T and others that my classmates suggested to me. From there, I added other educators that connected with them. As a result, they added me! We would share articles and ideas on Twitter back and forth. You can also find great sources for teaching because they are being posted by the educators you are following. I have been expanding my network and found many great websites. You also get news that is related to education.
I am slowly expanding my personal learning network on step at a time! I really enjoyed this project and discovering new tools that can help me as a future educator.