Tag Archives: twitter

My PLN: an on-going labour of love

A post about my community/online engagement of PLN cannot be written strictly from a course 5 perspective.  If I were to focus only on my engagement with my PLN during the narrow time of a few months, it wouldn’t be telling the whole story (This is a link to my post “Networking is High Maintenance” from the beginning of my Coetail journey.)  

Before Coetail, my PLN consisted of those I could reach out and touch: current colleagues–in particular colleagues with whom I worked in close proximity (same building/grade, etc.)  I didn’t use the term PLN, and didn’t really give my professional learning a whole lot of thought once a 3 day workshop or conference was finished.  Since starting my Coetail journey, my greatest learning comes from former colleagues living oceans away, or from people whom I have never actually met.  

Twitter is my new Facebook (now deleted from my phone)–I check it several times a day, almost always finding some nugget of joy/truth/interest.  I often tag colleagues for whom I think the resource might be of interest.  Granted, not every resource share or ‘shout out’ is always followed up on. This is where I try to be careful not to overshare and ultimately overwhelm.

As a result of regular engaging with Twitter I learned of and joined a Global Collaboration project as a result, (#GlobalEdTed).

Tweeting regularly about our time with the bears to the ‘before and after’ teachers (those who had bears before our school–and those who received them after) allowed for a sustained interest in the project– inspiring Skype conversations with one class and our stop motion “Millie gets up to mischief” video prompted the next class to add an element of ‘Millie gets up to mischeif’ of their own for their video.

Twitter (and Coetail) has prompted me to share some of the great things my students and school are doing:

 (click here or below to see my share/reply)  

I have also joined the online community for Seesaw ambassadors using the Google + platform. I’ll admit, I use it mostly for consumption purposes, or asking a question, rather than actively sharing and answering. Maybe it’s just one platform too many.  I did however, use it to find a blogging buddy class for one of the first grade classes at school. Many, many emails later (and on-going) the relationships between the two classes is slowly building.

Some of my best PD has come from a handful of Twitter Chats, as summarised in the following ‘storifiy here’:

Tricia Friedman on Twitter: “@BevansJoel @horofraser You’ve been quoted in my #Storify story “#Learning2’s 1st ever #L2chat!” https://t.co/KIyGdqxyxc

And another Twitter Chat:  A portfolio discussion with Kimberly House here :

These Twitter chats, organised and hosted by the incredible Tricia Friedman, were all intended to get the conversation started early and lead up to my ultimate PLN builder, the Learning 2 conference in Europe, where I attended along with 6 of my school colleagues . My reflections are here, where I describe engaging with this new and expanded PLN at the conference. Sharing my learning in the form of my own teacher led workshop was probably my biggest learning.

The conference reminded me there is definitely something to be said about good ol’ face to face time–existing relationships were solidified and new ones made after extended time with my colleagues from across campuses, in both more ‘academic’ settings as well as social.  Of course, once the conference ends and face to face time opportunities are limited, it doesn’t mean the learning and conversations have to:

Here is an on-going dialogue with a colleague from the high school based on his blog post about a mutual interest: portfolios.

Some of this on-going PLN engagement happened within the ‘confines’ of course 5, some began well before, and most will (hopefully) continue well beyond. This is the power of having an active PLN.  Thank you again Coetail.

Tuned In, but Tapped Out

Definitely having trouble with this last post.  Not because I haven’t been reflecting and giving a ton of thought, time and electronic back and forth with my Course 2 Final Project Collaborators…but because of it.  I’m all tapped out.

the-village-well-587867_640

Tapped out. Image from Pixabay (Attribution Free)

This course I have not spent as much time keeping up with the weekly readings and ensuring I make lots of comments on fellow Coetailers blogs as I promised I would (Networking is High Maintenance, and you get out what you put in…So, I am going to  step up my game in the karmic commenting department myself.” ).  One of the main reasons for this lack of commenting is simply because all the collaborating that I also promised I would do is so time consuming!

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First unsuccessful attempt

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Second attempt (mixed results…)

There's a bite!

There’s a bite!

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Collaboration? Helping a colleague on another campus and learning something in the process? Check!

 

Some attempts this year at collaboration have panned out well: fellow Coetailers are highly motivated to collaborate as part of this final project, but they also accept and embrace the collaborative mindset.  (I notice my fellow collaborator Amber Dryer already uses Skype in her classroom as a tool to connect to and learn from the outside world. Both Amber and another collaborator, Linda Grunwald regularly tweet about current events coming out of their classrooms.) Coming up with a truly successful collaborative project, where all parties see the true purpose, are equal contributors, and feel the collaboration “supports and complements” what is happening in each classroom, is more challenging.  

 

Amber has involved her tech coach, Andrew Chiu in our process, who kindly offered to set up our shared blog, Little Idea Swap.  Lengthy email discussions about purpose and logistics of students groupings began in earnest.  Andrew, keen to involve others, invited more schools to our idea swap.  

 

So far, the idea swap has consisted of Amber’s and my students making brief video introductions and sharing what we like to play at recess.  When I shared Amber’s anecdote that children in Hong Kong play on the rooftops (due to limited space in the city for playgrounds), my 4 & 5 year old students couldn’t move past the (to them) dangerousness of this situation.  See their funny video response here.

"Playing on the roof is dangerous, you know." -Gabi, 4 years old

“Playing on the roof is dangerous, you know.”
-Gabi, 4 years old (Attribution free) Image from Pixabay

As our project is in its infancy and we have yet to hear from some of the schools, it is difficult to judge its success or effectiveness. I myself am a bit hesitant at so many schools being involved, and even keeping track of the two that we will ultimately communicate with can be daunting…especially when I want to ensure it is much of a relevant learning opportunity for them as it has been for me!

 

Certain things that one takes for granted when working with older students, one has to stop, consider and do a lot front loading with younger ones.  Telling my students we have friends in China really means nothing to them–hanging a map and putting pins where our collaborators live (de)evolves into a huge side tangent inquiry into where we all live/are from (because of course each of my 7 students come from somewhere different, and they haven’t seen where they come from in relation to each other represented on a map before.)  

Learning about maps...Pixabay (Attribution) Free Library

Learning about maps…Pixabay (Attribution) Free Library

This of course gets into a discussion about the symbolic representation of land, space and distance on the map in the first place.  As adults we are used to this abstract representation of political boundaries, but to a 4 year old it really doesn’t do justice to just how far away our buddies in China actually are, or what a miracle it is in the first place that we are communicating with them so easily.  

 

Other attempts at collaboration with colleagues from my school (different campus) have not fared so well.  The few posts on our Collaborative Padlet that children from our other campus posted didn’t happen until I physically went there (on a job shadowing morning with our current tech coach) and worked directly with the children…Disheartening, but I have recently had interest from another teacher in China (see tweet above) who will join us, and we will begin our “Look Closer” photography collaboration next week.  

 

This kindness from strangers reminded me of the many words of advice I received from Learning2 Colleagues for my role next year:

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Thanks Learning2 community!

These challenges don’t dissuade me at all, but make me realise that ensuring a global/local collaboration is meaningful and purposeful (in the way we intend) for everyone is no easy feat. So far my students and I have learned tons–just not (yet) what I had assumed we would.  But, I have been looking at “failure” in a new way…as an opportunity to find growth…to identify ways to see failure as a learning opportunity…and to create and tell myself new stories about my own learning.  

Here is the final project for Course 2:

Networking is High Maintenance

@horofraser thanks for joining our discussion so actively and great ideas! #aisrpl #aisrthinktank #thinktankchat

A year ago I might not have known what the above comment meant.  First of all, I would not have understood the symbolism. I suppose I still don’t really understand why # is used, really, but I know to use it to search topics or chats in Twitter.

Secondly, I wouldn’t have believed that the above comment would be describing me–typically quiet during a group discussion–being actively engaged and opinionated.  This comment was tweeted to me during a scheduled twitter chat that I happened upon during my Planning Time earlier this week.

Meant to be working on my COETAIL assignment for week 2, I initially felt guilty for getting easily sidetracked by random Twitter posts on gender.  I am a self-proclaimed feminist, and my husband will claim I tend to gravitate towards bias-supporting articles.  Yet, I was intrigued by the rather neutral title, Gender Gap in Education Cuts Both Ways.

After reading the article and chat questions, but before committing to actually participating, I checked over this week’s topic and assignment.   The Networking topic and loose reflection assignment about our changing thoughts brought me to the realisation that this was exactly the kind of thing we were meant to be doing!  This is the networking in the form of active online participation that is so powerful that I am meant to be reflecting on (and therefore blogging about). 

The public nature and digital representations of these relationships require a fair degree of maintenance.

Although this sentence comes straight from the article Living with New Media and actually refers to teens using social media to publicly manage and curate relationship tidbits, I thought it also applies to the development of an active and engaging online PLN.  I am more recently aware that in order to really learn, it takes more than simply connecting digitally.  Learning digitally (and publicly)  is effort and maintenance.  

So, I have been rather consciously proactive on Twitter activity this week, and I noticed that Andrew Grover, a fellow online 6 Coetailer had posted a visual map about learning communities.

Coetailer Andrew Grover's PLN Tweet

Coetailer Andrew Grover’s PLN Tweet

After hinting to him that I may very well borrow this fabulous idea, and reflecting that it nicely complemented my exploration of what modern day networking is all about,  I set about the task of creating my own mind map of my current Personal Learning Network.

Having earlier tinkered with Popplet  after an In-service session at my school, I decided that would be the tool I would use to map out my network.  Andrew’s original had created additional links, showing his University ties, but I decided I would only use current, or developing links, not severed links to the past…which sadly, is how I think of my university and early teacher training and professional development courses.  Quickly, I came up with this:

  (*Can’t seem to add a proper caption to  my “Work in progress PLN” above without the formatting going all wonky…so this note will have to do.)

Looking at the “finished” product, I realise I could have continued to branch out and be even more specific: listing specific twitter hashtags or google groups. I could have listed blogs I follow or podcasts I listen to, but as these lists are growing and my time this week is not, I decided to save those for later and anticipate revisiting this map in the future, as I am curious to see how it evolves.  

I want someone in my PLN who is going to give me constructive criticism and also accept it….I want someone who wants to learn, listen, and consistently share. I want someone who provokes my thinking. What I don’t want in my PLN is someone who is going to blindly re-tweet something I post.  -Andrew Marcinek

After reading “Help Students Use Social Media to Empower, Not Just Connect”  a blog post by Andrew Marcinek on Edutopia, I still feel I am my tweeting early years, and while I post the occasional blind re-tweet (with the full intention of referring to re-tweeted article when the more pressing need or interest arises)  I also feel I have already come a long way in making sure to learn, listen and consistently share, both on and offline.