Keeping up with emerging trends and best practices is an important part of growing as an educator. Professional development mandated by a district or school administration has a clear purpose but may not meet the needs of all staff members. Many teachers are developing personal learning networks, or PLNs, to expand this work outside of their school.
A PLN is a group of people that share what they have learned with one another in an informal manner. They may meet at the same time on Twitter each week to discuss a topic, or pose questions to one another in a Facebook group. The increasing popularity of PLNs comes as teachers look outside their school walls to address general concerns about the state of education or to search for ideas for their classrooms and solutions to vexing problems. PLNs can include fellow conference attendees, teachers you worked with in the past or educators that you’ve connected with on social media.
Teachers are beginning to use the tool Voxer to connect with members of their PLN. Voxer is a walkie talkie tool with a dedicated app for smartphones. Users can create or join a group, and then invite others to participate. If you’re already connecting with other teachers on Twitter, you’ll be amazed at how different the PLN experience is on this platform. With Voxer, you hear the voice of the other person and no one is limited to 140 characters. Chats can include audio recordings, text messages and photographs making it similar to a group chat.
If you are already using an email chain, Facebook group or Google Hangouts to meet with your PLN, Voxer is a good option for bringing it all together. It allows teachers to set up notifications or log on when they choose and hear conversations about a particular topic. You can record your voice and share something about your day, snap a picture of your bulletin board or text a question to the group. These ongoing conversations are great ways to stay in touch, gather ideas and feel supported as educators.
First you need to establish a PLN. You might reach out to a few former colleagues or other teachers from your education studies and ask them to start a group. Once you have established your PLN, you can sign up for a free Voxer account, invite whomever you’d like and create a new group.
Have you tried out Voxer? Is there another tool that you like to use to stay in touch with your PLN?
Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.
I think that the teachers should not use Voxer because they all meet when the district plans the meetings and talking to the PLN would be great for some of the students and some will be really bored.
Not if everyone participated like they should