Reposted from the Blog of Mark Barnes, Brilliant or Insane: Education and other intriguing topics.
Archive for the ‘FaceBook’ Category
Posted in #CEM, Accountability, conference, Connected Educator, Edcamp, Education, EduCon, FaceBook, ISTE, Leadership, PD, PLN, Professional development, Professionalism, Reform, Social Media, Teacher, Teched, Technology, Thought leadership, Thought Provoking, Twitter on December 21, 2013 | 10 Comments »
Collaborative learning has always been with us. Educators have for ages shared ideas and methods with other educators that they came in contact with on a face-to-face basis. Most educators insist that face to face connections are their best connections. Unfortunately, for some educators, it is their only form of professional collaboration. Technology, however, has been a game changer in the area of collaboration. It has enabled at least hundreds of thousands, if not a million educators to connect in various ways to share and collaborate professionally, learning and growing in the process. This has become a growing movement recognized as connected educators. The U.S Department of Education has recognized and supported the movement for the last two years with Connected Educator Month. Although many are connected, a majority has yet to reap the benefits.
What has bothered me for several years now has been the lack of support by the State and National Education organizations for the connected educator. The conferences of these organizations do have some sessions on Personal Learning Networks and how to connect educators, but the need for more information on those topics always seems to exceed the supply of sessions at these conferences.
Two State conferences of ISTE affiliates that I am familiar with have gone out of their way for connected educator education. Both NYSCATE of New York, and ICE of Illinois have created booths and lounges to educate and connect educators on the advantages of being connected educators. NYSCATE even gave out mugs to those who connected to other educators on site.
The irony of this dilemma comes in the fact that all of the Education organizations are now very quick to develop hashtags for their conferences, in order to create a buzz, and branding for both the conference, and the organization among connected educators. They fail however, to support that connectedness at the conference itself.
Few programs offer Twitter handles of educators and speakers in their programs. Nametags do not contain contact info for connecting.
Friday night I put out a tweet that we should start a movement petitioning all education organizations to at least support connected education by including Twitter handles on Nametags at conferences. Educators are connected in many ways using a cadre of applications to do so. Twitter in my estimation has been in place the longest supporting and promoting connected educators in developing collaborative personal Learning Networks.
Three people who I respect and admire from my own PLN immediately jumped on the tweet pointing out that an endorsement of one application over all of the others might be unfair. I was surprised that anyone was even on Twitter late on a Friday night so close to the holidays. As educators I guess we strive to be fair to everyone even if that one is an application. Both Pintrest and FaceBook were mentioned as additional ways to connect, and we should not favor one over the other. I would add that LinkedIn and Plurk are also in the mix. There are any number of Social Media applications that afford educators the ability to connect.
I chose Twitter because it was the one application that has been used specifically for professional collaboration over the longest period of time, by the greatest number of professionals. I wanted organizations to be able, in a simple way, to support and promote connectedness with educators. My connected colleagues however do have a valid point. Maybe a better method would be to allow conference participants to place on their nametags their preferred method of connecting with the name of their choice. Educators should not have to ink in their own information. It needs to be recognized by organizations as a legitimate for of professionalism for educators. The unconnected educators need to be educated and convinced of the legitimacy of connectedness.
The larger picture here is to get these Education Organizations to support connected educators and not just use them. PLN’s will never take the place of conferences, just as computers will never take the place of educators. Our world is changing and to stay relevant we need to change as well. In the garden of ideas we must weed out the bad and fertilize the good, but we can never ignore the ideas that are popping up at a rate never before imagined. Collaborative, connected educators are making a difference and creating transparency in a system that before operated behind closed classroom doors. Sharing the good and shining a light on the bad benefits all educators and in turn all students. That deserves to be supported and promoted by our own professional organizations.
Posted in Accountability, Blog, Common Core, Connected Educator, Education, FaceBook, Internet, Leadership, Ning, online learning, PD, PLN, Professional development, Professionalism, Reform, Skills, Social Media, Teacher, Technology, Thought leadership, Thought Provoking, Truth, Twitter on June 3, 2013 | 7 Comments »
Collaboration in education is not a new concept, but the idea of using social media for collaboration in education is relatively new considering the age of our education system. Technology has only recently provided the tools to make this possible on a large, even global, scale. In order to successfully engage in this most recent form of collaboration two things need to be understood; the use of technology, and its applications designed for collaboration, and the culture of collaboration among those using that technology. Our most effective education collaborators and thought leaders seem to have a thorough understanding of both.
Although sharing is the key element to collaboration there is more to it than just that. Feedback is important for additions and subtractions for improving ideas. If one is to be a successful collaborator then responding in some way to other educators becomes essential. Without responding, there is no collaboration.
Discussion of ideas is made possible on several applications; the most used source for professional exchanges is probably Twitter, followed by Facebook, LinkedIn, and then any number of Ning Communities for educators with their Blog and Discussion Pages. Commenting on Education Blogs is also another way to extend the collaboration, often in much more detail. Engaging in these practices will broaden the discussion of education among those who need the answers the most, the educators. Many education thought leaders are passionate about education and that passion is both needed and infectious. If educators just shared those passionate ideas with the people that they were connected with, we could have a movement. Never answer for the knowledge of another. You have no idea who knows what. Never assume everyone has heard about one subject, or another, or that they understand it in detail. Just pass along the information for them to decide.
What information is important? Certainly any specific information pertaining to your field of endeavor would be important especially to those who follow you from the same field. Additionally, you should share general information pertaining to Education, methodology, pedagogy, the brain, research and any innovative education ideas. These would come in the form of links to websites, articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts, graphs, and also any other tweets educators may be sharing. A most important contribution is the sharing of successes in the classroom. Your successes may spark enlightenment in a number of other educators. Your successful everyday practices may be innovative to others.
If we as educators made collaboration a common practice among all educators there might not be a need for a common core. Collectively we are all smarter than we are individually. Our common core would be developed by the connection and collaboration of educators. Educators could address their own concerns and professional development without interference by politicians and profiteers. It does require that we become involved in connecting with other educators in a supportive, respectful, collaborative way. Better education for students will be the direct result of better education for our educators.
Posted in Accountability, Administrator, Connected Educator, Education, FaceBook, Internet, Leadership, Mentoring, Ning, PD, PLN, Professional development, Professionalism, Reform, Social Media, Teacher, Teched, Technology, Thought leadership, Thought Provoking, Twitter on April 23, 2013 | 9 Comments »
The term “innovation” has been thrown around through the halls of education for several years. Its creation in our education system is a stated goal by our Department of Education. It is a reason, although some would call it a justification, for charter schools being formed. Charter schools were supposed to lead the way to innovation for public education. A problem with innovation however is that we often do not know it when we see it.
The whole idea of innovation is that it is something new. The other part of that, which is implied, is that it is also a successful improvement. That may be the piece that prevents recognizing innovation in education. Teachers, when it comes to education, are a conservative group. Change comes slowly, and there is a comfort in holding on to what has worked in the past. This has long been reinforced by the many trends and fads in education that have come and gone. Teachers have been programmed to believe that whatever the change being mandated by the powers that be, it will be gone with the next change of power. “If we wait a little while, this to will pass” becomes the educators’ mindset.
The newness of innovation is probably its greatest obstacle to acceptance. Teachers generally rely on the tried and true methods, proven to work over a long period of time. Innovation requires a leap of faith on the part of educators that the innovation will be a success. Unfortunately for innovation, the conservative nature of educators does not support taking risks. It may have something to do with self-perceptions of many teachers that as “content experts” they shouldn’t make public mistakes. Supporting innovation that fails would be a commitment to failure in the eyes of many educators. Obviously, this slows innovation acceptance.
This entire process has been further complicated by the rate of speed that technology moves and affects change. Committees, research and approval are very big parts of change in education. Today however, change comes faster and more significantly than in years past primarily because of the advancements in technology. These advancements continue to move forward regardless of anyone’s committee, research, or approval.
Collaboration has long been an element of learning. The term social learning is now creeping into discussions more and more giving collaboration a facelift. Face to face collaboration is the oldest and most easily recognized form. It is also a positive reason for department and faculty meetings. When learning individually we are good, but more often than not, learning collaboratively we are better. Technology tools for collaboration have moved collaboration to the forefront.
Now, let us combine collaboration with technology and see if it fits into our education system. Technology has most recently provided many tools, or applications for collaboration. Social Media is not one tool, but rather a network of many that overlap and intertwine. Educators can: join a Ning community,and meet a colleague from anywhere, converse on that site, connect and collaborate on Twitter, continue face to face collaboration on a Google Hangout, or Skype, collaboratively create and publish documents, presentations, Podcasts and videos. The potential ability for educators to harness this power and use it to model and guide learning for their students is mind-boggling to me, as a 40-year educator. It is only surpassed by the idea that the same potential ability in the hands of the students will take collaboration, creation, and learning even further.
We have labeled this innovation the Personal Learning Network. It is what we use to connect educators for collaboration beyond their buildings, districts, towns, and countries. It is technology-driven innovation that may profoundly affect education in regard to collaboration and professional development. It connects teachers with students, administrators, thought leaders, authors, and experts in all areas. It enables collaboration and creation on every level for educators to learn and teach. We become connected educators giving us insights and relevance that has been enabled by technology.
This innovation has been percolating for several years now, yet it has failed to be accepted as innovation. There is a growing gap between the adapters, or the connected educators, and the unconnected educators. The continuous discussions of the connected are directed and led by thought leaders and collaborative reflections, discussions, and content. The unconnected educators rely on the past and whatever direction is given by the powers that be in their districts.
If innovation is something new than the idea of technology-driven collaboration in the form of a PLN is old news and no longer innovation. Since it is no longer innovative, maybe educators will consider it, as a possible next step in education that will enable needed change. The idea that educators may be anti-innovative is my only explanation as to why the idea of a Personal Learning Network has not yet moved educators to accept it as a method to move educators, and education to a better place.
Posted in Accountability, Blog, EdChat, Education, FaceBook, Internet, Leadership, PD, PLN, Professional development, Professionalism, Reform, Social Media, Teched, Technology, Thought leadership, Twitter on January 12, 2013 | 30 Comments »
For those who do not know, here are two basic Twitter principles: 1. If you only follow 10 people you will only see the general tweets of those 10 people. 2. If only 10 people follow you, only those 10 people will see your general tweets. Although some might argue that the right ten people might be enough, I would argue that ten educators is a very limited Professional Learning Network. The never-ending task of building a PLN is to continually follow really good educators to get the information they put out.
I often say that the worst advocates for using Twitter as a PLN are power users. They come up with numbers, time on task, and strategies that overwhelm and blow away the average Twitter users, not to even mention how they scare off any novice. The accomplishments and numbers of power users tend to intimidate those who would consider using Twitter but see these numbers as unattainable and huge obstacles to success.
Building a professional Learning Network consisting of quality educators, who responsibly share quality information and sources, takes time and requires a plan. It is my belief that the people you follow are far more important than those who follow you. That doesn’t mean your followers are bad or have no value, but quite selfishly, they do not fit into the focus of what a PLN is designed to do. It is created and maintained to provide you sources and that only comes from those who you follow. Of course you should share those sources with those who follow you, but that is another Post.
How do you find those quality educators to follow in order to add value to your PLN? It is much easier to do today then it was when Twitter first started. A rule you should always follow is to check a person’s profile before you follow. You can view their profile, making sure they are a professional educator, and see a sample of their tweets before committing to them. An easy way to follow people is to take note of who is most often being retweeted and follow him, or her directly. Another good tip is to follow your favorite Education Bloggers. Most are on Twitter and many have “Follow Me on Twitter” icons on their sites.
The very best sources for good people to follow on Twitter are the best people you already follow. If you select your best follow and go to their profile, you can view the people that he or she follows. A simple click enables you to follow those people as well.
Additionally, many Tweeters have lists of people culled from all of their follows for the purpose of grouping. I have a list of what I call my “Stalwart List”. It is made up of all of the people I most frequently get information from. Another list I maintain is that of education organizations and publications. You can subscribe to anyone’s lists. As they are updated so are you.
Hashtags add range to Tweets. If you send out a general tweet only your followers will see it. If you add a hashtag to that tweet, then anyone following that hashtag gets it. In the case of #Edchat, that could be thousands. Following hashtags will often lead you to people who share your interests. If there is a specific hashtag that you follow, #Edchat, #Edtech, #SSchat, #CPchat ,etc… you may find tweeters frequenting those tweets. Shared interests may yield great sources as well as new good people to follow.
By constantly working and updating your PLN, you will continue to have relevant and beneficial sources flowing through your PLN. The one thing to remember is that you can unfollow people much more easily than it was to follow them. They are not notified of an unfollow. Having and working a plan, or strategy to follow people for your PLN development is essential to grow it and increase its value.
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