I have a Google Reader set up to follow specific blogs. I love reading, learning, and reflecting on educational blog posts. I see the relevance in following and reading blogs as an easy way for me to grow professionally without having to spend money and possible time away from my family and work. And now a task has been handed down to me to help my fellow collegues build their own professional learning network after many of them expressed need for growth in this area.
I understand how Twitter might not be the way for some to grow if they just aren't that excited about being engaged on the computer. You really have to actively participate in Twitter and spend time building your community to really "get it". Many of the teachers just aren't ready to spend that kind of time but still need to know what is going on out there in the area of education reform. Though I believe Twitter to be the best way to grow professionally, I am going to work on helping my teachers first build a habit of growing through blogs.
This summer I attended a few of Jeff Whipple's sessions at the Laptop Institute, held in Memphis, TN. It was in one of the sessions where Jeff shared how he uses RSS feeds and Netvibes to follow his students' blogs. This way he does not have to go out and look at each blog, but the new posts come to him. He showed how with Netvibes you could have many different tabs within one "site" so that you can organize your RSS feeds according to different topics. With this new knowledge I went out, set up a free Netvibes account, created a Public dashboard and starting feeding different blogs into it. Now this dashboard is just at the beginning stages of being built. I foresee tabs for classroom teachers geared for different age groups, for specialty area teachers, for more educational theory based blogs, etc.
Netvibes has a variety of different functions that can be embedded into these different pages: to do lists, weather widgets, calendars, and more. Besides feeding blogs I have also linked sites that host tutorials on them. We have interactive white boards and are now a Google Apps school so I have developed tabs for those topics with links to tutorials.
I am hoping that this dashboard is utilized and goes in the direction that I see it. I hope the teachers are inspired to even blog on their own journey of professional development and teaching style change.