Thursday, June 11, 2009

Keeping Up With PLNs - The Digest Version?

Here is some data:
  • I have over 1,000 items sitting in my Google Reader account that I haven't had time to read.
  • I belong to 6 educational/technology/library nings that all have messages I need to catch up on.
  • I am following 193 people on Twitter.
  • I have 60 friends on Facebook
  • I belong to the Google Certified Teachers Group
  • I belong to 5 Diigo groups
  • I subscribe to 5 professional library journals
  • I subscribe to about a dozen other educational or tech ed magazines
  • I belong to or own 60 wikis
  • I have 4 different email accounts
  • I am a member of Shelfari, LibraryThing, and GoodReads
  • I am a member of Edutopia
  • There's probably more groups, I just can't remember now...
  • Then there is instant messaging, gmail chat, text messages on my cell, skype conferences...
How in the world can I possibly keep up with all of this information? How can I not? What goes by the wayside? All of these sources of information are competing for my time and attention. So, here's the bottom line: I WANT to find time to read Will Richardson's, David Warlick's, Joyce Valenza's, CathyJo Nelson's, Doug Johnson's, Buffy Hamilton's, CoolCat Teacher's, etc., etc. blogposts...but there just isn't enough time in my day, and believe me, I am up at 5 a.m., on my laptop, trying to catch up!

So, I have to rely on the digest needs to be in 140 characters or less, because that is how fast the information is exploding around me, it is dizzying, like being on a roller coaster - exciting, fast, breathless. Now, I'm not saying that I am overwhelmed, because honestly, I don't feel that way. It's more like I am grabbing tidbits of info that capture my interest and those tidbits have to be quick and to the point, like a tiny url, simply because there is so much of it!

Which leads me to the idea of information fluency, that is, how do I teach my students to be information fluent, when there is SO much information bombarding them (albeit, they don't feel bombarded, this is just the way it is to them)? How do I teach them to skim, sort, sift, evaluate, process, contribute? As an elementary teacher-librarian, I recognize that these 21st C skills are now the core of what I teach. Once a classroom teacher said to me, "Just read to them, dear." Can you feel me cringing? Anyway, what should their ILN (Information Learning Network - just coined that) be? How do I facilitate that for them? Besides the books and the electronic databases? Some projects that I have done with my 4th/5th graders have incorporated wikis where they could start networking their information. That's a start. Some of the classes are blogging. Next year, hopefully, we are going Google, and that will help them to share information in a collaborative format. I just feel that I really need to rethink what I teach them; learning about tables of content and indexes just isn't enough; learning Internet safety and netiquette and the Big6 isn't enough, even at this young age. I feel like I have to take an entirely new approach next year, not throwing out the bath with the bath water, but I feel like I have to start from a different place.

After NECC and after finishing teaching a grad school class in July, I need some time to sort, sift, evaluate, process and create.