Professional Development

Input needed: tips to cultivating a thriving PLN

Jeff and I have a few upcoming presentations we’d love some input on! Please fill out the embedded Google form below…then check it out as the answers populate. Please feel free to use any of the information gathered for yourself!

At PEAK in a couple weeks (…10 days) I’ll be presenting an hour-long workshop on how social media can make educators lives easier.
Session title: Making the Web Work for You
Session description: Come learn how social media and other websites can save you time and energy while also enhancing your lessons. By the end of this session you will be on your way to creating a thriving Personal Learning Network with other educators around the world. It may be helpful to bring your own laptop or tablet.

In January, Jeff will be presenting a 4-hour workshop on getting involved on Twitter and blogging.
Session title: Becoming a Connected Educator
Session description: Thousands of educators all around the world share their thoughts, ideas and lesson plans with each other every day, and you’re only 140 characters away from joining them. In the first half, you’ll learn how to leverage Twitter and other forms of social media as a means of finding new ideas. In the second half, we’ll get you set up with your own blog so you can start sharing with the world.

Check out my Diigo library for some of the resources we’ve previously found.

COETAIL, Course 2

Thoughts on Digital Safety – Nothing Revolutionary

Thank you to everyone who helped me last week by answering my questions about Technology Coaches. My PLN is awesome!

Student safety and cyber-bullying has been the focus of a lot of press lately. As educators, we need to be aware that just because students know how to use devices (tablet, computer, etc), they don’t know how to behave when they’re using them. Behaving appropriately online is not an innate ability that students are born with. Instead it is something that must be taught. Who and how is the golden question!

This responsibility of teaching kids digital etiquette needs to be shared by both school and home. Parents can start from a young age at home. Common Sense Media has lots of great resources and parent agreements to support parents. Although I’m not a parent, I think it is parents’ job to help students understand how to appropriately use technology instead of banning it. If your kids are inappropriately using the technology that you gave them, help them learn what they should do differently instead of simply taking it away. Am I a crazy no-kid lady?

Unfortunately, not all adults understand how to behave online. This is where schools should come in to support and educate parents. Once students start school, teachers should be incorporating digital citizenship into their lessons on a daily basis. In 2013 most people own multiple devices, these type of lessons do not need to be an “extra.”

Parents and teachers also need to be living what they preach – if you don’t want your child to text during dinner, parents shouldn’t either; if you don’t want your students to text during class, teachers shouldn’t either. We need to be constantly modeling digital etiquette for our students.

Parents and schools should be working together to help students harness technology for good. Bullying and students being disrespectful to each other is nothing new. Unfortunately, however, technology can exacerbate the situation. Many students around the world are doing amazing things with technology (even if the media focuses on the negative). Scott McLeod‘s keynote, Powerful Technologies Powerful Youth, at the NESA Spring Educators Conference in Bangkok last month highlighted some of these students.

It is important that both children and adults are aware of the power of technology (good and bad). Explicitly and implicitly teaching students how to behave online is the job of the community, not the individual.

Community Garden Work Day

This post doesn’t seem revolutionary or original to me. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to find some good resources and get my thoughts down on “paper.” 😉

COETAIL, Course 2

Personal and Professional Collide Online

Surfers almost collide at Morro Rock, Morro Bay, CA

I have to disagree with hiring and firing based on profile photographs. Shouldn’t your personal life be left at the door? A person working five days a week deserves a little down time on the weekends. What a person does on his or her own time on days off should not be used to judge work ethic because that person may be serious and hard-working when they enter the workplace. Employers know that Facebook is popular and that our generation is utilizing it, but business and personal lives should not coincide. ~Samantha MacConnell, Don’t overestimate privacy of online information

Samantha has a great idea. And in an ideal world personal and professional lives wouldn’t intersect. However that’s not the world we live in. Everything we do online affects our lives. ESPECIALLY as educators.

I attempt to keep my personal and professional lives separate by using privacy controls and choosing how I use social media. My Facebook is personal – I have high privacy settings, stay up to date on any privacy changes and don’t talk (much) about my professional life. My Twitter is professional – I have it completely open to leave a positive digital footprint and rarely talk about my personal life.

I currently have 3 blogs – two professional and one personal. All three blogs are completely open and searchable on the web. Living in Kuwait, we are very careful about what we put on our travel blog. Anything questionable either goes on Facebook (high privacy!) or doesn’t get posted.

All that said…if a student or employer manages to find me on Facebook, I’m not worried. I don’t live my life in a way that would get me fired. And if I did, I would understand that there could be consequences for making my actions “public.” Although I value privacy and attempt to have a certain amount of it, I know there really isn’t any such thing on the internet.

[I love Google products…but I didn’t even attempt to go there re: privacy.]

 

COETAIL, Course 2

The Digital-Education Disconnect

Rural Disconnect

As an advisory teacher for a group of seniors last year, we spent one 20 minute lesson talking about their “digital footprint” (I’m not even sure we used that phrase). I barely remember the lesson so I’m sure my students remember it even less (I wish I would have known about this lesson!). Adults love to TALK about how what kids do online now will impact their future, but do we walk the walk? How many adults in education are actively concerned about their digital footprint? How many of us know that what we do online can hurt (AND help) our chances of getting jobs? Yes – I believe that as (international) educators we should have a digital footprint that helps demonstrate what we can bring to an organization.

A theme often talked about among connected educators on Twitter & #edchat is how to get more educators involved in the conversation. In a US system where many teachers stay in the same position/district for their entire careers, will they ever see the benefit of a positive digital footprint? Teachers who never change jobs would rarely think about if their employers are looking for a positive footprint. International teachers are in a different boat. From my (limited) experience, it seems that we change jobs much more often – some people as often as every 2 years. Our digital footprints may be closer to the forefront of our minds however I think it’s still quite common to focus on the negative effects of social media and not how it can actually help us grow in our practice. That said, how many people know the ins and outs of their privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, etc?

And then there’s the administration. How many administrators that are actively hiring are looking at applicants’ digital footprints (positive or negative)? What do admin actually KNOW about the people they hire (besides what’s on their beefed up resumes and what their references say)? A simple google search provides a plethora of professional evidence. I wonder if any of my administrators during the last 4 years have bothered to see what I’ve put online.

A couple months ago I watched the beginning of a keynote by George Couros during Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation‘s Online Safety Week. He talked to the students about how everything they do online (even during grade school) will affect their job prospects later. Ironically students had already been tweeting (using the hashtag) about how they didn’t want to be there and other not so nice things. Little did they know George was online watching them!

Kids don’t understand the gravity of their actions online (specifically social media) nor how to harness their power for good. But who’s teaching them? There aren’t many adults out there with the skills to do so. This mix will lead to a very interesting future for all of us!