Everyone knows that first impressions are important whether securing a job in an interview, meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, or attending your first day of school.
If our “in-person” moments are important, shouldn’t our “on-line” moments be just as important?! Yet some people will post things they would never say directly to their grandmother, or to their employer for that matter. Why is that? Why do some people say things on-line that they would never say when face to face? We have all heard the adage: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. It’s one of the first rules we are taught in kindergarten. Still many of us break the rule without giving it a second thought, even though we have been told a hundred times that words can come back to haunt us. On-line moments might even be worse – these verbal and visual transgressions can be shared over and over. If tagged, remixed, and re-tweeted, these indiscretions will live on!
Decorum—is a word you don’t hear very often. Perhaps it’s because it sounds old fashioned, yet there is something right about it. If you look the word up the following descriptors appear along with it: dignity, correctness, politeness, tact, respectability, etiquette. No matter the situation we need to embody decorum—even when we are mad, or tired, or frustrated, or silly, or drunk.
I am not going to lie to you. I have not always been the embodiment of decorum. The difference for me is this: I didn’t grow up in the digital age. The digital age came along after I graduated high school and university. Things are different now. A hand held device, screenshots, social media, and the Internet have changed how we make our first impressions. This doesn’t mean I am anti-digital or anti-21st century. It just means that the wonder, the beauty, the power of the digital age has to be harnessed appropriately. As a teacher, a librarian, and a humanist, I certainly don’t want to return to life before the Internet. Perish the thought. I embrace my digital world–the beautiful and the horrible. However, like everyone else I have to learn to work and play within its boundaries. It isn’t easy. Sometimes I have shared images I shouldn’t have. Risqué jokes come to mind. Now though, I am even more diligent about what I share.
When I Googled my Self, the first thing to appear was this:
What does this say about me? Is too playful? Should I reveal my age, or my interests? To be honest, I am not sure how to answer these questions. I participated in a personality profile some time ago; the profile boiled down to a two word phrase: enthusiastic taskmaster. I think my descriptor on Twitter reflects this persona. Work is important to me. Travel is important to me. Writing is important to me—and my enthusiastic attitude is important to me.
Is this the right UVP (unique value position) for me? I don’t know.
I am pondering my UVP as I write this.
My foray into Googling also revealed other things as well. Fortunately for me, my digital footprint is centred on my professional life: work and grad school. Once the initial search was completed, I wasn’t too surprised by what came up on the list. Some of the items that appeared were: LinkedIn, EdTech blog, RDC libguides, Rate My Teacher(s), my first Prezi (on plot development). My personal life in my digital portfolio is much smaller. My Facebook profile didn’t appear right way; I had to really hunt for it. That means my choice in privacy settings are working (for the most part). To some extent the images associated with my name were surprising. A few people in my PLN appeared along side of me. Most of these people are part of my Google+ network or my YouTube channel because of my enrolment in the MET program at Boise State. Better yet, most of my visual images were limited to a head shot, an avatar and a wallpaper print I created for Google+, and a ton of travel images I published via my travel blog, 209postcards.com. In fact, it seems the images were typically dominated by my Google based profiles. I don’t know why but I had never really noticed this Google dominated presence before. This shows me that I have to keep a better eye on my digital footprint. Obviously a plan is needed.
All in all, I am relieved that my digital footprint is so small. It’s good to know that most of my digital decisions have been smart ones. However, with that said, it’s still important for me to determine what my UVP should be. Is my Twitter profile what I want others to see? Does it leave others with the right first impression?
If this snapshot in time doesn’t provide the right impression, I need to change it. And I need to change it now.
“Twitter is not a technology. It’s a conversation. And it’s happening with or without you.” @charleneli
Not only is Twitter a conversation, it is a global conversation where people—with common interests—come together to exchange information in 140 characters or less. The fact that the conversations are short does not mean that they are not powerful. The bits and pieces offered like hors d’oeuvres can take you anywhere and nowhere. They are what you make them. They are bits and pieces of brain candy. I do not know about you, but I like feeding my brain.
Four years ago I joined the Twitterverse. I think my moniker @kedreaming gives that fact away. Back then you were encouraged to be anonymous to protect your digital footprint. I laugh at that now; unfortunately, I am stuck with this “name” that makes no sense. Despite the handle, I am glad that I signed up. Every morning I faithfully check my feed. I want to know what is on tap for the day. For me, Twitter is a menu, and I pick and choose what I want to follow up on. That ability to choose freely is its major selling feature! I also like the fact that I do not know where each click will lead me. Perhaps I will hear a new voice in the crowd. Perhaps I will learn about a new educational tech tool. Perhaps I will read a new story before it breaks elsewhere. I like living in the world of “perhaps”.
Although you do not always know where Twitter will take you—freewill is like that—you might be surprised how often it does take you where you need to go without you even realizing it. The other night I was scrolling through TweetDeck looking to add new hashtags (as part of an assignment for EdTech 543) when I came across a TTT#364 a live chat about YouthVoices. I arrived late to the chat so I did not sign in … what struck home is the fact that this group of teachers came together on their own time to talk about how they use Youth Voices in their classrooms. Now this kind of professional development makes sense to me: teachers talking to teachers on their own terms. Brilliant. Once the conversation was done, it was published on YouTube for those who could not participate; or for those of us who could not make it on time! Brilliant. In a half hour (okay, it could have been more) not only had I found new hashtags I also witnessed my first live chat.
More importantly, I learned that a Twitter user has to be picky. Although I found (or they found me) new hashtags to follow, I did not stick with all of them. I test drove a few that night and the next, then I swapped some of them out for ones that proved more worthwhile—based on my interests or needs. In the end I added: #tlchat, #libchat, #engchat, #edtech, #edchat.
I expect my new hastags to meet my varying needs as a librarian, English teacher, and technology integrationist. If they do not meet my expectations, I will move on.
Luckily, in a short amount of time, I found fresh voices, sources, ideas, resources, perspectives, and tools. I like this varied menu. I like this new kind of professional development. Twitter can feed my brain anytime.
More importantly, my brain also learned that you cannot hoard your Twitter findings, you must share them! Like @ariannahuff said, “It’s not just about consuming content, but sharing it, passing it on, and adding to it.” And in that vein …
Here are a few of my discoveries:
- #engchat shared Writing 101 on Pinterest. This site has resources for K-12 teachers and student writers. The visual menu lets you choose what you want.
- #tlchat sourced a new teaching tool, blendspace, which allows educators to create a “media filled” lesson in under 5 minutes (the #tlchat link also included a video tutorial on how to use the tool); the hastag also provided a calendar of live chats for teacher librarians, via the TL Virtual Cafe. I know what I will be doing Monday night @ 6:00 pm.
- #edtech highlighted a Remind 101 tutorial for teachers; the video (created using PowToon)is very persuasive! The strange thing about this is that I found the video shortly after I signed up for Remind 101 for our schools’ Ready Reader Program. When I signed up, I was not completely sold on the tool. The video changed my mind!
- #edchat provided two new voices for me: a blog post on “Five Good Ideas for High Schools to Adapt From Elementary Schools”, and another post on “My Digital Reading Practices: Part 3”. I may have found two more blogs to add to my RSS feed.
Now I wonder where Twitter will take you and your hungry mind?
From Here to There: Module 1 Reflection
Which hat is my favourite?
Because I have taught for more than twenty years now, I have witnessed many philosophical and/or educational changes; some of which have been driven by advancements in educational technology. In my first school, we had a typing lab; the year was 1990. Soon thereafter (around 1993) that typewriter lab gave way to a desktop computer lab. Today, our modern facility provides Wi-Fi access throughout the campus and fosters a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy. Soon our students will no longer need a computer lab. Thanks to smartphones, tablets, and Chromebooks, users are mobile. Any space can become a lab or learning commons. Learners can learn while on the move; therefore, learning is no longer isolated, or hidden behind closed doors.
Learning spaces and new handheld devices aren’t the only changes I have witnessed. Teaching has changed too. When I started, the classroom was teacher-centred; students collaborated—sometimes—most of the time though, they worked on their own. Technology tools were used to type or word process papers. Media was added to the mix and became a teaching tool, and I suppose, a learning tool as well. Eventually SMARTboards and projectors encourage a more interactive approach to teaching and learning. Classrooms became more student-centred and collaborative, if not inquiry based. Now learning is expected to mirror the real world. Learners must embrace change, or be the change.
My role has changed too. With each role, comes a new hat. I started out as a high school English-Language Arts teacher. Nowadays I do more than teach ELA. I am a teacher, a technology coach, a curriculum designer, a technology integrationist, and an information and digital literacy specialist.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I like wearing different hats. Like the learners I work with, I too must embrace change, or be the change.
From Early Adopter to Change Agent?
Because I am an early adopter of technology, I have always embraced change or at the very least, been open to change. With that said, what I hope to gain from our class, EdTech 504, is the answer to this question: how do I become a true change agent?
Like Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta (n.d.), I know “technology-based learning promotes active learning and ownership of the learning experience.” I have witnessed this in the classroom. I also agree that successful learning requires: 1) human interaction, 2) opportunities for active engagement, 3) relevant and timely content, and 4) feedback and support. (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta, n.d.) Do I think that successful learning takes place each and every class? No, I do not. This kind of learning doesn’t happen as often as it should. There are government standardized tests, like PATs (grade 9) and Diploma exams (grade 12); there are some not so relevant curriculum outcomes, and other hoops to jump through too. Do I think the bar is set too high? No, I do not. Sometimes we simply have to work within the parameters given to us; does that mean I have to settle, or that you have to settle? Of course not. Set the bar; go for it. However, at times I am not sure how to reach that bar. Exploration, experimentation, immersion definitely help. Both teachers and learners should be “free to fail.” (Petraglia, 1998) There is nothing wrong with failure, despite popular beliefs. With that said though, I certainly want to do more good than harm! I want to provide my students with authentic learning experiences. However, I have to be honest—I am not always sure what authentic learning is. The “Shift Happens” (2008) video states that we are “preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet.” I don’t know about you, but I find that whole idea daunting. I want to be a change agent, but I am not always sure how to bring about the right kind of change. By the end of this course, I hope I can answer the question posed here.
I also hope to write my own definition of Educational Technology someday. After reading quite a few definitions I have narrowed my search down to two possible definitions:
“Educational Technology is a combination of the processes and tools involved in addressing educational needs and problems with an emphasis on applying the most current digital and information tools.” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 6)
I like that they have considered both educational needs and problems in their definition. I am curious as to what is meant by problems. Obviously this definition requires more exploration.
According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), “Educational Technology is the full range of digital hardware and software used to support teaching and learning across the curriculum.” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 5)
I also like the ISTE definition because they consider both teaching and learning across the curriculum. Quite a few definitions only consider one or the other, not both.
Even though these definitions are strong, I still feel like something is lacking. I cannot put my finger on it yet, but I hope to find a suitable definition by the end of the course.
From Here to There
Blended learning, which is a training approach that combines a mix of on-line and face-to-face training delivery for improved engagement and better retention (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta, n.d.), is something that we are expected to embrace this year. For me, it is another opportunity to wear a new hat. Yet, I wonder how this hat will fit. Will I be able to move from here to there? Will I be able to help others move from here to there? Again I come back to my question: How do I become a true change agent?
While wearing my many hats, I am expected to lead others in the right direction. Keeping to my mantra of wanting to do more good than harm, I wonder if I can reach that bar and help others to reach that bar too—while also providing authentic learning experiences for our students.
I know Jonassen (as cited in Petraglia, 1998) is right; I have to “adjust the strategies, models and tactics necessary to attune the nature of the task to the perspective of the student.” This adjustment seems daunting too. I hope I am up to this challenge as well.
I must move myself, and others, from here to there.
Fisch, K., & McLeod, S. (2008, December 28). Shift happens [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emx92kBKads
Koller, V., Harvey, S., & Magnotta, M. (n.d.). Technology based learning strategies. Social Policy Research Associates Inc. Retrieved from http://www.doleta.gov/reports/papers/tbl_paper_final.pdf.
Petraglia, J. (1998). The real world on a short leash: The (mis) application of constructivism to the design of educational technology. Educational Technology Research and Development, 46(3), 53-65.
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (6th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
“The Mechanics of Learning”, a Glogster collage, was inspired by Wenger who said, “communities of practice have been around for as long as human beings have learned together.” (Wenger, 2006) As I reflected upon this quote, I wondered which professional community of practice might have existed first. For some reason, I thought of ancient Greek dramatists and actors. In turn, this thought led me to the concept of simple machines or mechanical devices. Early Greek theatre relied upon a mechane or a mechanized pulley system in order to lift an actor up into the air to simulate flight.
Each mechanized device in the collage symbolizes the following concepts: personal learning networks (PLN) = gears; communities of practice (CoPs) = pulleys; and Connectivism = computer motherboards and applications. The devices evolve from pulleys to gears to computers to computer applicaitons to show how PLNs and CoPs have changed over time because of technology. The learner image, situated bottom-centre, is someone who is connected by choice. Her thoughtful expression mirrors her ability to choose which networks or communities to join. Of course, the availability of technology allows her to connect with individuals who share common interests or goals even if these individuals are worlds apart.
To visit the Glog, click the image posted above.
The Mechanics of Learning
The still images of the tractor and watch gears symbolize personal learning networks (PLN) in action. Gears cannot work in isolation; they rely on other gears in order to function effectively. According to Nardi, PLNs must fulfill three primary tasks if they are to be successful: 1) build connections, 2) maintain connections, and 3) activate connections with selected persons for the purpose of learning. (Rajagopal et al, 2011) Like PLNs, gears must connect with other gears and maintain that connection if the mechanism is to advance the hands on a watch or propel a tractor forward. The moving images or dramatization entitled “The Magic Wheel Star” also demonstrates that different shaped gears can still work together as long as they maintain a common goal. Digenti states, that “the PLN consists of relationships between individuals where the goal is enhancement of mutual learning.” (Seaman, 2013) This statement implies that learners’ personal interests or goals, as well as their desire to learn more, motivates them to connect with other learners in a network so that they may grow personally and professionally.
Pulleys, like gears, are simple machines that allow humans to work more efficiently, if not easily. The two moving images or dramatizations, “Flygrossing: Aerial Stunt Combat System” and “The Flying System at the Olivier Theatre” (the push pin), along with the still image of a pulley system, symbolize communities of practice. According to Wenger, a social learning theorist, communities of practice are “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” (Wenger, 2006) In both dramatizations you clearly witness a group of people brought together because of a passion for “stunt flying”. Although the pulley systems are different, both groups share a common goal of becoming better performers. This cannot be achieved without collaboration and mentorship. In both video clips you also see an apprentice (learner) being guided by a mentor (instructor). Basically, “they build relationships that enable them to learn from each other.” (Wenger, 2006) It is interesting to see, no matter the occupation or the passion, that social beings are more likely to thrive if they are active members of a learning community.
The theory of Connectivism also supports the idea that learning is active and social. Although the starting point of Connectivism is the individual, it is clear that learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. (Siemens, 2004) The images of a computer’s motherboard and the social media apps represent the fact that learning requires a communication system that allows learners to connect no matter who there are or what they do. Simply put, computers or computer based technologies bring people together in the digital age. Even the picture of the three elementary students building a computer indicates that technology is also a starting point for Connectivism. According to Siemens computer networks, power grids, and social networks all function on the simple principle that people, groups, systems, nodes, entities can be connected to create an integrated whole. (Siemens, 2004) In this day and age, “personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual.” (Siemens, 2004) Because change occurs so rapidly, learning is not something that can be done in isolation anymore. Learners need to be connected to remain current in their field. Knowledge development requires a technology that unites learners and allows them to network.
All in all, it is clear that learning requires continuous access to networks or communities if individual knowledge development is to flourish. Furthermore, it is also clear that learning is a social activity dependent on technology or technologies that bring learners together in order to share common interests, goals, and knowledge.
After reading Marzano’s article on nonlinguistic representations, I decided to add the moving images or dramatizations to my collage. Marzano says that nonlinguistic representations may take on many forms including “dramatizations”. (Marzano, 2010) I thought this: if the dramatizations are visual forms of expression (not verbal) then the clips should meet the expectations of the assignment.
Marzano, R. (2010). The Art and Science of Teaching / Representing Knowledge Nonlinguistically. The Key to Changing the Teaching Profession, 67(8), 84-88. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may10/vol67/num08/Representing-Knowledge-Nonlinguistically.aspx
Rajagopal, K., Joosten-ten Brinke, D., Van Bruggen, J., & Sloep, P. (2011). Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday, 17(1). doi:10.5210/fm.v17i1.3559
Seaman, A. (2013, January 3). Personal learning networks: Knowledge sharing as democracy. Hybrid Pedagogy. Retrieved from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/Personal_Learning_Networks.html
Siemens, G. (2004, December 12). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.ingedewaard.net/papers/connectivism/2005_siemens_ALearningTheoryForTheDigitalAge.pdf
Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice: a brief introduction. Retrieved from http://www.ewenger.com/theory/