Becoming an ICT specialist has been an interesting and very fulfilling journey, although not without its own brand of frustrations. Probably the biggest stumbling block I found when leaving my role as a classroom teacher and moving schools to take up this job was the isolation. They’re definitely a friendly bunch at my new school and there is always someone around to direct my silly questions to but being the only ICT teacher can be a lonely business. Luckily for me, a week before starting this job, I attended ACEC 2010 and took the first steps towards developing a PLN.
The idea of a Personal Learning Network isn’t new – networking and sharing ideas is something teachers have been doing forever. However technology takes the concept a huge leap forward, reducing time and geographical constraints. An example of this recently was my first steps onto the Ultranet. This has certainly been an isolating topic at my school. Classroom teachers, already weighed down with a long list of other priorities, don’t have time to play and discover the benefits of this new learning environment and, at the moment, just see it as one more thing on their long list of ‘things’. Knowing it is up to me and the other lead users to sell the benefits isn’t easy as, to be honest, I wasn’t necessarily seeing the upside myself. I forced myself to go on and play, in preparation for my Grade 5/6 students coming on board. Enter the PLN. I didn’t know how to do something and tweeted to this effect, receiving replies explaining exactly what to do from several people and links to different samples of Ultranet spaces to further inspire me. All of a sudden, I’m not feeling so alone. I might be the only ICT teacher at my school but I’m not the only on in the state, the country or the world and I really appreciate the opportunity to share ideas and make connections with others interested in similar topics to me.
So, thanks 🙂