DAILY INSIGHT: Try a little help from your friends

By Trevor Hope, CIO Advisor

Technology is all around us. It is inevitable, folks; if you have been resisting it, it really is time to get on the bandwagon. The world of educational technology, or “edtech” as we like to call it, has exploded in the last couple of years. With so much to keep up to date on, where do districts and their technology staff turn to for information?

A wise man once said, “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” I’m probably somewhere in the middle, but I try to stick to this policy. I may be the tech integrator in my district, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t teachers or administrators in my district who can’t be good resources when it comes to edtech-related items. I encourage people to share and share alike.

The bigger your district, the more people you will find. Neighboring districts can be a resource as well. The more people you can add to your personal learning community (PLC), the better. All these people and friends will undoubtedly give you great resources, but they won’t compare to the amount of resources you and your district will benefit from if you build a personal learning network (PLN). PLNs have changed drastically as of late and exist through multiple sites. Don’t forget Facebook, Twitter, wikis, social bookmarking tools, LinkedIn, and blogs. (Yes, if you’re reading this, you are taking part in a PLN; you can even comment below!)

What are you waiting for? Start creating those accounts for yourself, your district, and start following people. At first, you can be a lurker, sitting on the sideline and “borrowing” “smart people’s” resources. At some point you will feel comfortable joining in on the conversation and sharing your own resources, blogging on your own, or commenting on other people's blogs. Encourage others in your district to build a PLN as well. The more people you connect with, the bigger your PLN will get!

So get by with a little help from your friends—and mine.

Trevor Hope is coordinator of instructional technology at Hawthorn School District 73 in Illinois. Follow him on Twitter as @trevhope.