Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inspiration, PLNs, and Social Bookmarking

Inspiration, Personal Learning Networks, and Social Bookmarking are three technological tools that can be very useful in the classroom.

The program Inspiration can be used as both an instructional tool and a productivity tool. It can be used in a verity of functions in a social studies classroom. Because of all of the functions that it can serve in the classroom, I believe that it is worth purchasing.

Examples of Instructional Tools:

  1. Create a pyramid of the ancient Egyptian social hierarchy.
  2. Create a progression chart of the succession order for president of the United States.
  3. Re-create the pyramid of the hierarchy of needs.
  4. Create a family tree for King Henry VIII.
  5. Create a chart showing the progression of United States presidents. 
Examples of Productivity Tools:
  1. Have students create a Venn diagram comparing geographical features of North American to Europe.
  2. Have students create a concept web for the branches of  the United States government. 
  3. Have students create a chart ranking the reasons for the fall of Rome. 
  4. Have students create a timeline of the American Revolution. 
  5. Have students create a flow chart of the people and events that led from World War I to World War II. 
When used as an instructional tool, Inspiration will allow the teacher to create clear and concise presentations and examples for the class. The students will like these Inspiration-generated graphics, as they present an alternative to reading to learn the material. When used as a productivity tool, it will allow for an alternative to written assignments that many students, especially those who struggle with writing, will find enjoyable. It will also improve the computer skills of students. 

Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)
Personal Learning Networks are popular tools in education. These used to consist of human resources (such as teachers)  that students could go to with questions, however, online PLNs are becoming increasingly popular. They provide ways for people with similar academic interests to collaborate with one another without even having met before. Some popular PLNs include Facebook, Twitter, and Diigo. On these websites, people can create free profiles and have the ability to post information that can be made available to everyone else who has an account on these sites. 

As a current student, I have a personal learning network that I use in my field of study. It consists of both online and offline elements. 

  • Other students at my school
  • Professors
  • Cooperating Teachers
  • Moodle
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Diigo
This PLN gives me the ability to collaborate with others on the topics of education and history. I can talk to other students that are taking the same classes or have the same major as me. I can also meet with my professors if I have questions. If I have education-specific questions, I can talk to cooperating teachers with whom I've done observation time. If these sources are not sufficient, I can go to the Internet and have a world worth of resources at my fingertips. Moodle is a source that allows me to easily communicate with other students at my school over the Internet (this can be easier than tracking down a student on campus, especially at a big school). Facebook and Twitter can direct me to pages and people that have specific information on the topic that I am looking for. Diigo gives me the ability to search through links that people have posted on the topic that I am interested in.  

Social Bookmarking
Social Bookmarking, like the other topics discussed in this article, can be an important tool in the classroom. It can be very effective in It can be used in a variety of effective ways. 

Examples of Ways to Use Social Bookmarking:
  1. Teacher can mark websites to use in a guided research project for students. 
  2. Students mark websites that pertain to the topic of study for the teacher and other students can view.
  3. Students can create an informal bibliography for projects that require some online research. 
  4. Teachers can mark websites that would be valuable to other teachers within the school or even in other schools. 
  5. Have students mark current events on news websites and discuss in class. 
There are a variety of ways that students can use Social Bookmarking for their own induividual benefit. It is an excellent tool for organizing Internet research. In a group project setting, it can also serve as an easy way for group members to share research. Students can also use the bookmarked websites of others to find information on a topic that they are researching by searching tags. Social Bookmarking sites, such as Diigo, can be a useful part of a PLN for a student. 

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