Entering this class, I was not too sure what to expect. I had familiarity with social networking and thought I knew exactly how it could be used for education. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was only scratching the surface. This course made me re-evaluate just how useful social media can be. Even Twitter, which I have been an avid user for years has taken on a new level of significance. Ultimately, there are three areas that I can see being the most useful for me: webcasts for professional development, Twitter chats with other educators, and the art of curation.
Beyond the comfort of attending professional development from home, I found the options for the professional development available online to be superior to the options often made available through my local ISD. While the sessions were shorter and leaner, that did mean that they lacked in quality. I have found many 4-8 hour professional development sessions to be loaded with filler to stretch the time. I appreciated the focused approach that I witnessed online. The backchannels and being able to so easily communicate with other viewers and the presenters is unique and helpful. I found some of the other viewers were adding just as much useful information as the presenter. Finally,the ability to easily go back and re-watch made it easy to ensure that all the main points were absorbed.
Besides using webcasts to communicate with educators, I also enjoyed the Twitter chats. There was an excellent variety and the quality of feedback, ideas, and resources was impressive. I was able to meet a principal that shared with me many forms and procedures that she is using to implement social media in her school. This are the kinds of concrete and useful information and resources that I don’t often get form professional development sessions. Sometimes when you work in a school, the culture and tradition (routine?) becomes some embedded in everyone’s mindset that it becomes difficult to think “outside of the box”. Having the chance to speak with teachers working in similar areas with similar challenges from all across the country opened me up to some very new strategies and approaches.
My favorite strategy for improving my teaching and my awareness was curation. I constantly come across great articles on Twitter, interesting images or videos, blogs, etc. However, much of it gets lost because of a lack of organization. However, using a site like ScooptIt or Bundlr, I see how easy to is to organize all of the great content that I come across. From my home computer or my phone, it is quick and easy to now save, access, and filter through all of the content that comes at us everyday on social media. By curating ourselves or finding someone else that is curating a topic, we have a reference source that is unique to a very specific field of interest.
Through webcasts, Twitter chats, and curation, I know that I have new tools in my teaching arsenal. I look forward to not only employing them, but sharing them with my co-workers and administrators. Over, the last two years, my goal has been to increase the use of technology and social media in my own teaching. Now, administration has asked me to embark on a new challenge to get the staff to increase their use of social media and technology. I am more prepared for that challenge than I was in May.
As for a final evaluation of my blog. There was one particular post that I was not happy about (or at least the assignment I blogged about in that post). My PLE diagram was uninspired and rather boring. However, I really was happy with how my non-linguistic representation of PLN, connectivism, and communities of practice turned out. That was my most successful assignment. In all other areas, I believe I met the blog requirements. Each post answered the questions posed. Most posts were good, but not great. There was one low point and one high point. In the end, I see the blog being worth 64 of 75 possible points.