How I Learn New Stuff

I try really hard to know as much as I can about current technology. Even if I’m not able to put every available tool or trend into practice in my personal or professional life, I pride myself on at least being aware of what’s going on out there among the most tech-savvy. I’ve been asked dozens of times, “How do you know so much?” My answer is, “I read a lot!” I read blogs, del.ico.us links, articles, and occasionally, books. I also listen to podcasts and watch videos of presentations, or sometimes at least look at the presentation, even if it’s without the presenter. I spend sometime everyday expanding my knowledge about what’s going on in the world, especially when it applies to education.
Here are a couple of the coolest tools that I use on a daily basis:

  • Del.icio.us – this is a public book marking site. I have collected over 1000 links. I always start by looking at “popular” and “recent“. One can find great articles, new web2.0 websites, and other useful web resources. I also have a network of educational technology experts that I follow and I check to see what they’ve bookmarked to make sure I don’t miss anything important.
  • Google Reader – This is an aggregator that helps me keep track of all the blogs I read and news websites from this site as well. When I find a blog or new site I want to follow, I copy the link and “add the feed”. Every time I return to my Google Reader page, the articles that have been posted since my last visit are available. I will eventually take advantage of the shared items feature so I can create a shared items page for my friends.
  • Clipmarks – This site/tool is hard to describe. Basically when I read articles that I want to keep for future reference, I use a clipmark to highlight the important parts of the article and the site saves my articles in a collection and using tags, I can access them later. It’s important to read what other people are clipping and “pop” the articles from others as a way to participate in the clipmark community sharing information.

When I find a resource, website, or article that I want to keep, I decide how to mark it for future use. I usually bookmark the site on Del.icio.us. If it’s an article that I want to refer to in a future presentation or blog, I use Clipmarks. Google reader lets me “star” a blog entry or news article. If I find a resource that I know is useful for teachers, I’ll add the site to my wiki.

I have a real problem with collecting all this stuff. I need time to sift through all the information and organize and annotate the best resources. I have a huge collection of interesting stuff. I just need to put it to good use.

Information is Power

I sign up for everything. Each day my email inbox is bombarded with email from my subscriptions. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Education Week (edweek.org) – for news, and special events such as live chats around relevant topics
  • Teacher Magazine – good quality articles, research, and resources
  • Pete MacKay’s Teacher’s List – I get an interesting website sent to me each day. This is one of my favorite subscriptions. Pete sends me some of the bests sites ever. I’ve never seen one I couldn’t use with teachers or students.
  • Education World – I like the administrators and the professional development newsletters
  • Edutopia – from the George Lucas Educational Foundation, topics including professional development, technology integration, and comprehensive assessment
  • NetFamilyNews – among all of the high quality resources that guide parents and educators, this is the BEST resource for current and relevant news, research, and tools to deal with how web-savvy young people are using the internet, particularly in the area of social networking.

These subscriptions are helping me enhance my own professional development. I learn something every day from my email.