When I first signed up for this course, I thought for sure it would be easy, since I was already on Facebook everyday. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This class has challenged me in more ways than just work load. It has pushed me creatively and professionally to think outside the box and to expand upon the tools I already use.
So, to begin with, I always hated Twitter. As an English teacher, I thought that it was my responsibility to wage war against another device that promoted “texting language”. We had to use this tool in our blogging class last semester and I remember truly cringing everytime I tweeted anything. This semester has been a little different. After researching for ways that social networks are used effectively and bookmarking on Diigo, I realized that there are great ways to use twitter in the classroom. And although I am skeptical about using it, I feel as though in the future I will be more likely to use it.
Then, I attended a live virtual presentation by David Truss on Inquiry Learning. I love the idea of free and easy access Professional Development Webinars. This was one of the most important ideas that I took from this course. How many times have I attended a Professional Development day at school and thought, “Could there be a better option for this?” I loved the live chat feature during the presentation for asking questions and hosting discussions about ideas that were brought up.
At the beginning of the course we were also asked to think about our Digital Footprint and what we wanted others to see. I came up with my Positive Digital Footprint/Reputation Management Plan and I now feel like I have a better handle of what I put out into the world for all to see and feel confidant that I can help my students create a more positive Digital Footprint for themselves as well.
Curation was a bit of a challenge for me. I always think, “Do I have anything important to share?” The answer is always yes. In a group collaboration we came up with Criteria for Curation and I found it extremely helpful in collecting my sources for my own curation for research papers. By using Pinterest, I was able to start curating a board to help my students with their research papers that they write. This was probably my favorite assignment. I use Pinterest all the time for crafting ideas and now that I can use it to organize and create a board for students to pull resources from, makes me feel like the possibilities are endless!
When we began building our own Personal Learning Networks, it seemed overwhelming to me. I thought that I would not have enough resources to make a PLN diagram, let alone get the required amount. But again, with this class I have been pleasantly surprised. I didn’t have a hard time coming up with new networks because I already use a lot now, just for personal use instead of business. When I really started to get to the bottom of it, I had always really wanted to connect with others in my field, but never really knew of a way how to. During this segment of the course I was able to connect with teachers from all over the United States, Canada and Europe as well. I have taken their ideas and suggestions and have truly enjoyed their feedback and support. It’s easy to feel alone and isolated when you’re a new teacher, but I now feel as though I have a connected group of colleagues that I can turn to seek advice. It is truly a blessing.
We developed a plan for Social Media Policies and I think that this was the most difficult for me because I have had very little experience in the planning and implementation of one. However, after working with my group and reading over the resources provided, I feel as though I will be able to do this with some level of comfort in the future.
The last assignment was to create a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with my group members. I enjoyed the collaboration that we did in the Google Docs Chat feature and am hoping to use this with students in groups as well. But the best part of the assignment was actually getting to see how a MOOC uses all of these Social Networking tools and combines them into an interactive course that basically is Inquiry Learning. In that way, my course experience has come full circle.
As a teacher, there are many things that I am going to take away from this course, but here are the highlights:
1. I will not be afraid to use Twitter to foster group discussions and showcase research.
2. I will continue to connect with colleagues and be proactive in reaching out for advice and suggestions.
3. I will continue to curate new boards in Pinterest that I can link to my school website.
4. I will create new ways for students to use Social Networks throughout the entire course, not just for individual assignments.
5. I will work to create my own brand and continue to give my Digital Footprint reconstructive surgery.