Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beyond Twitter for Your PLN

So, what if Twitter is not your preferred method of connecting with your Personalized Learning Network (PLN)?  Never Fear!! Options are here!

There are other ways to gather and share information.  You are using one right now!  Blogs!  Blogs provide a way for you to share (and gather) information in much more than the 140 character limit of Twitter.

Now, I know, I are thinking, "Are you kidding?  I don't have time to keep up a blog!" That's okay.  When you move into the blog world, your first steps can be to follow other blogs.  This gives you access to information from experts in your field, but removes the pressure of authoring your own blog.  (However, let me suggest that you keep an open mind about being a blog author.  There is value in it, so don't rule it out!)

Next step, how do you find blogs published by experts in your field?  Well, I am going to help you get started.  I will share some blogs with you and give you pointers on how to find others.

Lisa Nielsen: The Innovative Educator -
Edutopia -
Will Richardson -
Edutech for Teachers -
Diane Ravitch -
Edcetera -
Quests and Treks -
Evolving Educators -
It All Started in the Library -
Teachers Reflect -

All of these may not be right for you.  And please, don't overwhelm yourself by thinking you have to read all (or even most) of these.  Find what you like and start there.

Here are some resources for finding other blogs:

  • Scholastic recommends 20 blogs:
  • eSchool News recommends 10 blogs:
  • National Education Policy Center recommends:
  • Lisa Nielson recommends 10 blogs:
What happens when you find 3, 4, 5 or more blogs you want to follow?  Do you have to remember the blog websites and visit them everyday to see if something new is posted?  NO!! Thank goodness!

There are services that will bring all your blogs together, as soon as they are updated, and combine them on one page.  

I use Bloglines.

Create an account...for FREE!
When you get started, Bloglines may give you some suggested blogs to follow and they may already show up under a Merchant's Circle tab in your feeds.  You can remove that if you like.

To keep your blog feeds organized, I recommend you add additional tabs beside the default MERCHANT'S CIRCLE tab.  I added EDUCATION and TECHNOLOGY tabs.  To add tabs choose the WHITE PLUS SIGN on the far right side of the blue TABS bar.   A new tab will open that you can rename.

To get started building your own feeds choose ADD on the Bloglines toolbar.

From the drop-down menu under ADD, choose FEEDS.
You can copy the url for the blog page you want to follow and paste it in the first URL bar and ENTER.

If an icon or two pop up below the URL bar when you press ENTER, the service is prompting you to choose the RSS feed (as opposed to the website link).  Blogs are shared by their authors with RSS feeds.   If this choice appears, choose FEED. 

When you select the icon for FEED, a box will pop up asking where you would like the blog feed to appear.  Choose the the tab under which you want the feed to appear by clicking the down arrow, selecting the tab and clicking the green +.

You can now click on that tab on your page and a history of blogs from that site will be displayed in list form. 

BIG TIP!!!  Bookmark the Bloglines page you are creating so that you have easy, one-click access to the most up-dated blog posts.  

Next tip!!! To remove a tab that you don't want...or that you accidentally created, simply click on the drop-down arrow just to the right of the tab label.  You can then rename the tab of delete it.  

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