Joining Online Communities

From Lurker to Participant (or at least working on it)

group-42917_1280Over the past week, I have worked to join a few more online communities. While I may not keep up interactions in all communities, I appreciated exploring some new groupings. I will have to decide over the long-term that will be most helpful as I learn and grow in my profession. While I was already a member of quite a few groups, I was surprised at the avenues there were new to me. Professional educators are very motivated in online communities.

Over the past week, I explored Google+ Communities, Pinterest, Classroom 2.0 and edConnectr (through Connected Educators).


 

Ca11ptureedConnectr

For edConnectr, you have to sign-up and wait for verification. From there you fill out a fairly extensive profile, for the platform to match you with educators you can help and who can connect and assist you.  When you have completed your profile, it shows you all of your “matches” with you being in the center. You can sort by job position and look between the quadrants: “My role”, “I can help with”, “Interests”, and “I would like help with”. You can also join groups within edConnectr. I joined the “Teaching with Tech” group. Unfortunately, it seems inactive as a post hasn’t been made since 2013. EdConnectr also suggests reaching out to individual people connections called “pins,” I have contacted a few, and I am waiting for a response. I did appreciate you could search by school district, of which I found one librarian in my district.

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Google+ Communities

Prior to this assignment, I had never looked into Google+ Communities. Searching through the groups there are so many choices. I was careful to find groups there were more active than others. I joined four groups through Google+ communities, two of which were free to join and two others I had to wait for approval. Communities2My interactions through the Google+ Communities have been most beneficial.  I have felt comfortable contributing and asking questions or seeking help. Members of these communities are quick to respond with suggestions or help. It has been amazing the resources people are willing to share with you.

Here are some interactions I have had with my Google+ Communities:

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I had some educators offer some very helpful tips and advice almost immediately and I wanted to share the permalinks to those interactions as well.

Microsoft 365 Help

Interactive Whiteboard Assistance

Adobe Voice Interaction

Twitter Chat Archive


Pinterest

A few years ago I was active on Pinterest, but it was mostly a place for me to pin recipes to try some evening down the line. Or I would pin the latest appetizer recipe that I hoped would not be another Pinterest fail. However, my experience with Pinterest lacked any sort of community interactions. Of course, I had “followed” friends boards, but we didn’t comment on each others. It was a way to pin, bookmark and collect, that was it. For this activity, I attempted get back on Pinterest to experiment with the networked community as an active participant. I followed some EdTech boards and found posts and resources I liked. I posted comments to educators posts and thanked them for the resources. I also tried to ask people a few questions, of which I received one response. I am happy that I experimented with Pinterest again. Will I rely on it for PLN in the future? Probably not, but there are good resources there if you don’t mind getting lost in the scroll!


 

 

The final online community that I joined was Classroom 2.0. This community is a place for educators who are interested in social media, classroom technology use and the Web 2.0 to interact and engage with one another. I definitely still have some exploring to do with this platform. There are groups and forums as well recordings, videos and guest speakers. I like that they have video and FAQ resources for educators who haven’t posted to forums before. Classroom 2.0 also has RSS feeds that you can utilize to stay on top of new blog or forum posts and comments. I will have to play around with he happy medium on how much of this I want notifications about. While I do use Feedly for RSS feeds, I need to decide how to organize my new online community notifications so that they don’t overwhelm, but become an asset to my PLN.

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Reflecting on My PLE

My PLE

Self-Reflection

I enjoyed the process of creating this representation of my PLE. I usually shy away from artistic projects, feeling inadequate. However, the use and exploration of digital tools gets my creative juices flowing. This assignment, rightly so, turned into an extremely self-reflective activity.

While creating my PLE, I learned that I have come a long way. It wasn’t that long ago that none of these tools was around. And now look at the learning, networking and connections that have been formed. In creating the “Guide to My PLE” I found there were a lot of connections I have made and at differing levels of success.

I decided to divide my PLE into four main categories all of which are interconnected. I questioned putting the same icons into multiple circles then decided to place them where they fit by definition and then connect each category as they really can go between all categories.

I learned that there were a few tools that I use or taught I used well. For example, Diigo has been my go to bookmarking app for a few years personally, but the social aspect was new to me for this class. While I have been on Twitter for a year professionally, Twitter chats were new to me for this Module. I learned that I can keep honing my skills in most all of my PLE tools. That is one of the reasons I am pursuing a Masters in Educational Technology, to focus really on my skills and continue to learn and research in directed areas.

I also learned that while I am getting better, I definitely continue to be a lurker more than I want in many areas. I will read online resources from a whole host of people for hours, but contribute far less. This is a pattern I need to work on. Reflecting on this is a great step to being a more active member in my personal learning network.

Comparative Analysis

Having the opportunity to explore my course PLN’s PLE posts, as well as other classmates creations, I come away feeling positive and that I am doing the right things to build my PLN. There are so many similarities that I noticed throughout our representations. Differences were mostly program specific, not different in the idea itself. We all find it important to communicate/share, organize, learn and collaborate. The tools we use may be different, but the reasons for using the tools are universal.

There were definitely tools that I utilize, however, forgot to include in my own PLE. Reviewing my classmates representations reminded me of these resources as well. A big one that I left off was Tweetdeck. I think a major reason I hadn’t been successful with Twitter in the past, was the lack of organization I had made around hashtags or ways to follow a Twitter chat. This tool should have made my diagram for example.

This might be a good process to use with teachers at my school when I work with them as a coach. We could explore their PLN and areas they want to grow.  This would be a work in progress, but this process was definitely beneficial to reflect on my PLE, what it is and what I want it to be.

Real-Time and Live Virtual Professional Development

8477893426_9181cdabc4_oLive Twitter Chats

Before this module, I had never tried my hand at a Twitter chat. I was always intrigued, but mostly intimidated and apprehensive. I was thrilled to be pushed over the ledge with this assignment; I had no excuse but to give it a shot.

I enjoyed my experience engaging with other professionals and educators through the Twittersphere. In the future, I can see myself being a regular with a topic or two that interests me. I even shared the curated Google calendar with other teacher friends of mine and encouraged them to find a chat topic of interest to them. I was so surprised by how many types of education chats occur daily.

Real-time professional development was meaningful for me. As contributors share resources, I found myself opening a lot of tabs to review further after the chat. I think that real-time PD can be very useful, but it is important to reflect and review after the collaborative chat time.


 

Twitter Chat #resiliencechat

6Thank goodness we had already sent up a Tweetdeck through this class. I don’t know how you would follow a chat without being able to streamline the collection system. The host for this chat centered the conversation this time around student travel during the school year. This discussion followed the Question and Answer protocol that I had seen in my Twitter feed at times.The conversation hinged on the benefits of family travel, school responsibilities and equity across the country. I was able to contribute by sharing my experiences working with migrant communities and transient communities. My experiences offered a different take on student “travel”. I interacted with educators that I had not previously encountered through my PLN.  It was a successful first experience.


 

Twitter Chat #educoach

Ca444ptureI was also able to participate in this chat with other instructional coaches. The facilitators welcomed everyone and centered the chat around “instructional coaching with the end in mind”. This chat was a faster pace than the first one I had participated in, but having multiple facilitators felt very interactive and engaging. That was awesome to “meet” other coaches; I grew my network here. Many of the coaches seemed to be on the same page as me, so it made me feel confident participating. I wonder how I would feel if I had had a very different view on the topic. I would like to schedule a time to try out the technology coaching chat in the future.


 

Twitter Chat #ipadchat

When I first arrived at the chat, there were a lot of bummed Tweeters as we were all figuring out the facilitators were not in attendance. However, we quickly realized we could still have a chat, albeit impromptu. One person started off asking what apps and resources we liked for formative assessment and the discussion rolled from there! It was neat to take the conversation where we wanted it to go, but I could also see how this would be harder the more participants were in attendance. I appreciate the role of the facilitator. I even encountered a fellow EdTech 543 classmate here!

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Twitter Chat #Nt2t

#Nt2tI had wanted to do this chat earlier on in our Modules but didn’t get to join in until my fourth chat attempt. I was feeling a bit weird to chat at “New Teachers to Twitter”, as I didn’t exactly know what “new” meant. I was glad I stopped it, I met a lot of great educators and now have lots of ideas of how to introduce Twitter to my school staff. I also learned tips I want to take on into my practice. #Nt2t had new and veteran educators willing to network and share.


 

Live Webinars

Empowering Digital Citizens: Embracing Social Media in Schools

edWeb.net

During this webinar, Principal Jason Markey presented on his high school’s use of social media as a positive for his community. He urged for all to, “Take ownership of your school’s story and then you aren’t just going to see the few negative news stories out there.” He explained that it took about two years to get Twitter unblocked, but it is such a positive for the school and students. Principal Markey told how you could scrub out negative tweets by inviting positive momentum. This webinar did have a backchannel of which questions were collected and answered at the end of the presentation. I was able to ask a question and the presenter even followed up with me through Twitter. I appreciate how real-time PD breaks down those barriers of separation. C333apture


 

Nearpod: GoToWebinar – Best Practices for Implementing Technology in your Classrooms

This webinar was used to show the basics of Nearpod. I was hoping it would go beyond the basics as I have previously used Nearpod in my classroom. I did appreciate how easy it was to interact with the presenter, who also followed up through Twitter after the presentation. I was able to ask a few questions around Nearpod vs. Classflow, which was helpful to me.

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Webinar: Planting the Seeds of Belief

30 Goals eConference speaker Barbara Bray presented on Univeral Design for Learning as the framework for personalized learning. She spoke from the heart about wanting teachers to “bring problem solving and joy back into the classroom.” She explained one way you do this is to help unburden teachers, by moving from traditional to learner-centered education. She explained that teachers need to make the learners responsible and accountable for their learning, it shouldn’t be on the teacher alone, it should be on the learner more.


 

Webinar: BBWorld15

Panel Discussion: Powerful Professional Development to Prepare Teachers for Digital Learning

Moderator: Dr. Allison Powell

The fourth webinar I attended was through the BbWorld Conference. It was a panel discussion focusing on online professional development for teachers. The panel talked about theories of adult learning and taking this into accoutn when looking at blended, online or face-to-face professional development for online teachers. It was neat to watch the panel online while they presented just down the road here in Washington, DC. This was another backchannel were questions were saved until the end. The chat moderator offered to take questions to the panel if they were unable to get to them in the time allotted.

This experience was so positive for me. I will continue to look for webinars and Twitter chats to be a part of in the future. All of my experiences were authentic and real.

Image Attribution: “Multiple Tweets Plain” by mkhmarketing is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Criteria for Effective Curation

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Before creating our group’s Curation Criteria Strategy document, I wouldn’t have been able to define educational curation. In my limited understanding, to curate something had always be saved for galleries and museums. Having now explored curation, it is evident that this method of sharing organized topic-specific content that been beneficial in education as well.


The online collaboration process ran smoothly as we utilized first Google Sheets to collect our findings and then Google Docs to organize and fine-tune or final criteria. Using these collaborative products, allowed for easy contributing alongside my PLN (Carol and Ty) as we could view and discuss each others contributions. Early on in the week we broke up the work and Carol initiated by created the sheet to house our findings. We then determined we wanted to break the criteria into three categories: Find, Feature and Facilitate as a way to group our list.

I look forward to using our criteria as I review my PLNs curations. I am excited to see the topics they chose and method(s) for sharing!

Image Attribution: “Curation of Information” by G. Couros is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Creative Expression into Informal Learning

Connectivism – Communities of Practice – Personal Learning Networks

Meerkat Manner(isms)

While exploring and learning about connectivism, personal learning networks, and community of practice it was easy to make the jump from the human world to the animal kingdom. Non-linguistically it is clear that connectivism can very conveniently translate into the underground tunnels of meerkat clans. The interconnectedness allows these animals to remain linked to their family for feeding, sleeping and socializing. These ever-changing tunnels allow movement from the daylight interactions to nighttime safety. George Siemens defines connectivism as the ever changing interconnectedness that is not controlled by any one individual or one database. Connectivism particularly focuses on learning in our digital time period and focuses on the “the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity” (Siemens, 2005).

A young meerkat will learn everything from the family unit. They will observe their personal learning network as they learn to become productive in their family clan. According to Dowdy, a personal learning network “gives the learner control over his or her own learning process” (2010, p. 177). Humans, like meerkats, will set up a network to help them grow, first by observing and later interacting and contributing more authentically.

Meerkats live and work in clans of upwards of 20 family members, some groups push 50 members (National Geographic, 1996). This, community of practice, works together as a family with the common goal of survival. Each member is invested in the strength and health of the mob in order to thrive. If meerkats focused less on the family, their community of practice would not be as successful. Individual meerkats have roles within the group; there is a leader as well as gatherers, look-outs, nursing mothers, and babies. These animals move throughout the clan roles as they learn and grow. Yellow mongoose and squirrels are even sometimes welcomed into the community as an extra support system for the group. The idea of a community of practice has been explored and defined by Etienne Wenger as “collective knowledge” that provides us with the capacity of “meaningful knowing”. While animals work together for survival, humans may form communities of learning to better understand topics such as: cars, printers, learning theories or authors purpose. The ideas that make a community of practice are endless, but it is the constant search of understanding of that idea that connects the community.

Creative Expression of Connectivism, CoPs and PLNs

Resources:

Dowdy, M. & Martindale T. Personal Learning Environments. Emerging Technologies in Distance Learning (pp. 177-193). Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/books/120177/ebook/09_Veletsianos_2010-Emerging_Technologies_in_Distance_Education.pdf.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm.

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems. Organizations, 225-246. Retrieved from http://www.projetintegrateur.qc.ca/salle-des-profs/files/2012/12/Chapter-10b-Wenger.pdf.
“Meerkats, Meerkat Pictures, Meerkat Facts – National Geographic.”National Geographic. N.p., 1996. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/meerkat/.

Images Credit:

Prairie Dog Tunnels. Digital image. Exotic Nutrition Pet Company. N.p., 2001. Web. 3 July 2015. <http://site.exoticnutrition.com/>.

Koninin, Mikhail. Digital image. N.p., 2012. Web. 3 July 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksystem/7638118600>.

Marcuson, Mark E. Cross section of prairie dog burrow. Digital image. Solaripedia. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2008. Web. 3 July 2015. <http://www.solaripedia.com/13/377/5221/prairie_dog_town_cutaway_illustration.html>.