Sunday, February 22, 2015

Leading Edge Certification - Online and Blended Teacher: 4.3 Reflection - Social & Professional Networks

Think about how the Internet has impacted your personal learning, communication, and sense of community.
Write a new post that includes:
  • a screenshot showing your participation in a social or professional network and
  • a summary of how you use that network for personal or professional connections or for new learning
In your post reflect on the following:
  • When does the Internet help your learning?
  • When does it distract from good learning for you?
  • How might your answers to these questions be similar to or different from the answers your students might give?
  • How might you support your students in using the Internet as their own personal learning space?

Twitter has become one of my most powerful professional learning networks.  I created an account many years ago to follow different companies to find out about deals or sales.  I wasn’t interested in following celebrities, and none of my friends were using Twitter at the time.  Also, I was unaware of the networking use of Twitter by teachers.  

My first glimpse of teachers using Twitter was when I attended ISTE one summer.  SMART mentioned that they were having a contest and you could win prizes for answering their trivia questions on Twitter.  So I hopped on my account and actually won something.  But I still didn’t understand why people at the conference would be using Twitter, and I didn’t know much about hashtags, so I didn’t get into using Twitter at that time.

A few years ago, I attended EdCamp SF Bay.  In the sessions I attended that day, I learned a lot from all of the other educators.  Many kept mentioning Twitter, so I started to follow many of the educators in attendance.  I saw all the information, knowledge, and lesson ideas that they shared online, and was hooked.  I then started to watch the different Twitter chats occur each week, and finally got the courage to participate.  

I have found Twitter a great learning tool, where I can put out a question and get an immediate answer.  I find links to blogs, books, conferences, and other resources, that I may not have found on my own.  I also have made many Twitter friends, that I have then met in person at different conferences throughout California.  If I have a question about any aspect related to teaching, I know which people I can turn to for ideas, inspiration, or a push in the right direction.  

Example of a Twitter conversation
Having a professional learning network online allows me to access it on my own time.  When I’m at school teaching, the other teachers in my department may not have a common prep, or can’t stay after school.  Twitter allows me to have conversations and post questions at any time of the day.  Also, although my colleagues are great there are only a few of them that I work with day to day.  I find that there is a much broader and diverse set of knowledge out on Twitter, so I turn to Twitter to find teachers to brainstorm ideas and to collaborate with.

Although Twitter is a great learning tool, it can be distracting.  I have a hard time tweeting out my learning during conferences.  I like to take notes, and don’t have the time to read through tweets and write my own.  So I like to look through them afterwards.

For my students, I think Twitter can be a great learning tool.  However most of my students use it to post pictures from a party or complain about homework.  For them, Twitter and other social media tools are a distraction.  I think our students need to be trained how to use social media for professional or educational uses.  Last year, I had my students create “school” Twitter accounts that they would only use for school and professional type tweets.  My students participated in KQED’s Do Now program, and we also used the accounts to share questions and information about different class activities.   I tried to model good uses of social media, and how and what should be posted online.  I am currently reading lol...OMG!: What Every Student Needs to Know About Online Reputation Management, Digital Citizenship, and Cyberbullying (High School Edition).  I think all of our high school students should read this to learn what might happen if they post what many of our students are currently posting online.

Social Media can be such a great way to expand your professional learning network.  Twitter isn’t just for fans of celebrities.  And our students should be taught how to navigate social media to enhance their learning and future professional endeavors.

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