Posts tagged google

How To Build A PLN

Video – Build a PLN Step-by-Step (Personal Learning Network)

Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) are nothing particularly new, fancy, or special: just by being here and reading this you’re becoming part of my network in a way. PLNs have such a huge potential, which I still don’t think is being talked about widely enough.

I was doing some e-tutoring for The University of Dresden recently, working with a great bunch of PhD students looking into digital literacies together. The group were really mixed, with engineers, forestry, medical and humanities students all in the same group. In the final week of the course I wanted to encourage them to create their own Professional Learning Network (PLN) so that after the course they would become more autonomous as learners and hopefully pick up new digital lietracies as they went along.

I wanted to show them a simple video to start off the week’s learning that would define PLNs in general terms. Try as I might, every single video I could find on YouTube was aimed squarely at teachers, or educators (and many of those were aimed at language teachers, too!)

So cutting a long story short, I decided to make my own video which in under five minutes could explain in clear terms:

  • What a PLN is – and why it’s worth having
  • Things students should consider before setting one up
  • Some basic web-based tools that will help you get started

8 hours later, after lots of cutting clips, editing audio,  shunting slides about to fit the narration, the final product is here.


Please really do feel free to use this with your students, trainees and colleagues – I made it using a Creative Commons license deliberately so that other folk could also use it. The only thing I ask is that you kindly credit me as the author of it 🙂

So, like I said at the end of the video: Let’s try to get as many useful PLN connections going on as possible in our network. I’m @SethDickens if you want to connect on Twitter, alternatively, if you have any other questions, queries or are looking for help in setting up a PLN, do please ask away by posting a comment in reply to this post!

Best of The BETT – Part 6

The Logo for Google AppsTo round up my series of interviews from BETT 2012, I have a post today about what I believe is going to be one of the most influential developments in educational technology in the year or so. Whether or not that’s true, it certainly was the most interesting new thing I saw at BETT 2012. It is of course, Google Education.

I saw two or three of the presentations Google gave at their stand, in particular one given by Dana Nguyen on the Google Apps for Education and the Google Certified Teacher programme really stood out. Both of these programs are worth a much closer look.  I’m thinking of blogging about these in the future, so I’ll save the space here and talk about them in depth later. Apart from the fact that I’m quite a fan of Google anyway, I really was impressed by what the company is doing to try and make technology more accessible for students and teachers. In many respects, while the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching is still a “new” innovation, the free services that companies like Google offer can often act as a gateway for teachers to start using technology. This is even more true when the technology being used is the same as, or similar to that which teachers are used to in their everyday lives.
I guess it still remains to be seen whether Google apps for education will end up being as much of a game changer as YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail and the other successful Google services have been. Without a doubt though, the other VLEs like Blackboard, Frog, Moodle and Fronter will be keeping a careful eye on what Google is up to. What’s more, now that Apple have announced their entry into the educational market with their iBooks 2 launch last week, I’m sure that Google are going to continue to press ahead with innovations, making Google Apps for education a very interesting suite of tools to keep an eye on.

On the final day of the BETT show, I was lucky enough to score a bit of a scoop, and I got an interview with William Florance, Google’s Head of Education, for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Apart from the fact that he rushed back from his lunch early so that I could do the interview and catch a train, he seemed like a really nice guy, and as might be expected, a really strong believer in the potential of Google Apps for Education.

So before I pass over to William, I think it’s right to just say in this final BETT post, that the show was incredibly helpful for me as an educator interested in technology. I really highly recommend it to anyone interested in this field. Although the selection of hardware, software and services dedicated to language teaching wasn’t as big as I’d hoped, there is just so much to see, that it really will be a valuable experience to anyone who chooses to go there. There will be something for everyone, I’m quite sure. I’m definitely going again in 2013, if you fancy a coffee and a bit of advice about what to see, I’ll meet you at Excel, London next year!


Web Search Skills for Language Learners

Google Logo

Many of the lessons I choose to do with my students involve internet search skills. Webquests, research for web-based projects, searching for definitions, there are all sorts of reasons why we ask our students to search the internet. However, we often take it for granted that our students know how to use Google and other search engines effectively. However (as I know to my frustration in Italian) it is actually very difficult to do web searches in another language. For this reason I decided to give my students a helping hand the other day and showed them a few of the useful “search operators” Google has.

After getting the students to brainstorm a few of the words they’d expect to find on Key websites we looked through the worksheet below.  This basically talks them through the reasons you need to put quotes around certain search terms, how to search for Word documents, PDFs and other file types and other useful hints and tips.
Feel free to use it with your students, I hope it comes in handy!

All the best,


Internet Search Skills Worksheet.doc

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