Learning Networks

I have belonged to many learning communities in my twenty-five years as an educator. Until the Internet made connecting with other educators as easy as it is now, I took advantage of workshops and classes offered to teachers, in which I worked with other educators to share and learn about new tools. I’ve also attended many educational conferences, where I’ve networked with a number of other professionals who share my love for educational technology. I remain connected with many of the people I’ve met at these events, through Google +, Twitter and LinkedIn. Those that I became especially connected with are also friends on my Facebook page. I value the insight and recommendations of my professional learning network, and have subscribed to a number of blogs, channels, and print and online publications as a result of these networks.

I have had so many social media accounts, that for a time I had a hard time keeping track of them. It seemed that every time I attended a conference, I was introduced to another online tool for which I would create an account. Managing all of them was difficult. My online dashboard kept most of my information in one place, but changes to the site I was using, and its eventual deprecation made me take assessment of what was really important.

The social media platforms on which I am most active are currently the following:

Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rhonda.kinstner)

Twitter (https://twitter.com/rhondakinstner)

LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhondakinstner)

While my Facebook account is based more on a personal network, I have a number of Facebook friends who play important roles in my professional development. These friends include alumni from my Lamar ETL cohort, past administrators, and past and current colleagues in the educational profession. Our Facebook discussions are much less formal than other social media posts might be, but they contribute much to my learning and provide resources to which I may not have access otherwise.

Twitter has been an important part of a majority of the educational conferences I’ve attended. Hashtags make it easy for me to follow specific threads and to locate the information I’m looking for. And though I may not know everyone I follow on a personal basis, they are all people whose experiences and opinions I value. Some of my most valuable Twitter connections are presenters from past conferences, or leaders in educational technology I’ve met through them.

I use social media to prepare for job interviews. First, I do some exploring in Twitter to locate district feeds, and I read about what’s going on in the districts, so I can incorporate any helpful information in my discussion with their administration. I also look for district technology team members on Twitter, to see what they are sharing, and what tools I should make myself familiar with.

When one of my interviews required a five minute presentation, I turned to the internet in search of a new and engaging presentation tool to use. I found one that was not only engaging, but free, and my audience loved it.

http://www.edtechmagazine.com/ Ed Tech Magazine is a source I use often for ideas. When I found an  article by Meg Conlon, suggesting the ways in which students could benefit from technology integration, I knew I needed to share it with the people I thought needed to see it most. (http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/08/6-ways-students-benefit-technology-integration-infographic) They are the classroom teachers in my building, who aren’t networked in the technology pages I use, but are friends on Facebook. Most of them don’t feel there’s enough time to use technology in their classrooms, so I do what I can to encourage them. I shared the article there.

http://mashable.com/2016/08/03/dropbox-paper-beta/#Z_bxeWPJAOqk  I’m a follower of Mashable, not so much for educational purposes, but as a means of staying up-to-date with technology. As a user of dropbox, I found an article about a new collaboration tool in the application to be something worth sharing with the technology team in my district, so I added a new link on our group page in Sharepoint.   I also posted it in Twitter, where I had a “like” and a “share” within an hour of doing so.

I love Tech & Learning magazine. I have been a subscriber for more than five years, and receive an email regularly with the most popular articles in technology education. This week, I found a great article comparing Edublog to Seesaw. http://www.techlearning.com/blogentry/11061   I really appreciated the comparison because we use these tools in my school.   I felt a need to share it with my TechinEdu group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/108447) in LinkedIn, because effective collaboration and communication are such an important part of what we all strive for. I also shared it with my cohorts in this DLL program,  as I felt that with the discussions this week being based on digital tools and collaboration, it was something worth mentioning to my colleagues. I shared something else with my cohorts this week, too.  As I was responding to one of the discussion posts, I was reminded of a cyberbullying video I used to show my freshmen at the start of each school year. I’ve shared it with PLN’s in the past, but thought my new cohorts might appreciate it as well. (http://old.digizen.org/cyberbullying/fullFilm.aspx) The video is accompanied by a great lesson plan and digital resources about cyberbullying. It’s an emotional eye-opener that still makes me emotional, despite the fact that I’ve watched it at least thirty times.

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