The bubbles in the graphic organizer above illustrate how I believed my PLN (Personal Learning Network) fit into my learning process and what it was composed of when I began this course 4 months ago. In unit 2 of the Google Training course I started last summer, PLNs are described as a place to connect with advice on tools, transitions, and for professional development. They are a place to connect, hear about and discuss best-practices, and be inspired. My definition has not changed, however my diagram and the bubbles inside have.
In an iTeachU video about PLEs, Dan LaSota (2018) observes that “What makes PLEs effective is metacognitive practices, human communication, and purposeful daily routines.” Despite the risk of sounding whiny, my days are extraordinarily full. In order for a me to effectively connect, collect, reflect, and share, I need the fewest amount of mouse-clicks.
In acknowledging that consistency is the key, I notice that almost everything I placed in my connect box above is something I have to do: a place I have to seek out or an extra motion I have to add to my day. Things that I will not do consistently… Twitter is another connection possibility that was suggested this semester, but it is also just one more thing in the list of stuff I won’t have time to do today. What I am finding that works for me are connections that happen throughout the course of a normal day, like email. I recently subscribed to/joined some services that send me emails that are relevant to me: SmartBrief, Common Sense Media, and the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). I could also subscribe to email updates when people I follow update their blogs. Just this week, I received information about a social media teaching model and how to create a culture of innovation. Yes, my inbox fills up, but I have to look at it anyway. This is where I have made adjustments to box number two, collect.
As a means of collecting and storing potentially useful information – whether about emerging edtech or helpful classroom practices related to personalized learning – the only collect bubble shown in the organizer above that works for me is email folders. I have folders for things to act on immediately and some to come back to read later. However, a bubble that I am now able to add to my box is Raindrop.io. This is a chrome extension that allows one to easily save websites to folders to return to later. I was less than enthusiastic when first introduced to it, but have really grown to appreciate its ease of use. This is especially important, because the 3rd box, reflect, is something that doesn’t happen very often.
If the 3rd step above were apply, instead of reflect, I might have more to report. Mostly, my grad courses are making me take time to apply/practice/research emerging education technology. This action is sometimes hard to work into my schedule, but is very doable for me. However, slowing down to think about, chew up, process what I am learning isn’t a strength of mine. This was evident in my peer review grade. I think I have to focus on reading so much as an English teacher, that I don’t often read critically outside of school. Maybe this goes back to adding to a day’s “to do” list. If it is any more involved than a single mouse-click, like sharing on Facebook, it is hard to make a part of a consistent routine.
The last element in the process illustrated above is to share one’s gleaned information with their network. Twitter comes back into the picture as a way to retweet articles and links, but I haven’t yet successfully incorporated visiting Twitter daily into my routine. For easily sharing websites, this is another place where Raindrop.io could be useful; one can share an entire folder of collected sites out. Emails can be forwarded. Group emails within the workplace can be sent. I recently received an allstaff email from a peer who found a way to convert text-to-speech as an MP3 (I didn’t open it, but instead put it into my edtech file).
While doing one of my assignments this semester I convinced myself of the value of purchasing a subscription to the ISTE. I haven’t really had time to do with it yet, but there are loads of apps/tech ed, reviews, and discussion about all of it. It definitely seems like it could be a time-saver down the road. I have discovered the value of a type of networking that I didn’t even acknowledge a few months ago.
Jahnke, I. Bergstrom, P., Marell-Olsson, E., Hall, L., & Kumar, S. (2017, 17 May). Digital didactical designs as research framework: iPad integration in Nordic schools. Computers & Education 113, 1-15. I looked up digital didactic design because I had no idea what it was, but this article gives a good definition within the first few pages. I like how it discussed designing a lesson plan within this DDD framework as containing the following elements: teaching goals and intended learning outcomes, learning activities, assessment, social relations and multiple social roles, and web-enabled media tablets. These are good jumping off points for any lesson plan (I always include three of these five). This article is a keeper.
O’Flaherty, J., & Phillips, C. (2015, February 17). The use of flipped classrooms in higher Education: A scoping review. Internet and Higher Education, 25. This article could be useful, because it discusses what an instructor would need to understand about the pedagogy of flipped classrooms before building them into their curriculums. But again, I question the relevance of articles about higher education as having value to me as a secondary teacher.
I decided to do a screencast for my ED431 media project because I hadn’t even heard the term a few weeks ago. Besides, I am also taking ED659 and have to do 3-screencasts by next week, so it made sense to practice with this assignment. I chose Screencastify because it was recommended by my other professor and seemed pretty user-friendly. Since I do not do very technical things in either of the high school classes I teach, I opted to explain a complicated essay topic I assign every year in my American Writers (Am. Lit) class.
I started by creating a sort of storyboard for how I would discuss the assignment and opened up all the tabs on my computer. I then created an infographic to further illustrate my ideas. Finally, I downloaded the Screencastify app and just did it! I didn’t do any research into how to do it, because my first attempt was supposed to be rough. After I completed my first attempt and shared it, I read the material provided by my instructor, edited my ideas down to just over 4 minutes as recommended by Hibbert, M. C. (2014), investigated some of the tools available to use with Screencastify, and then I made a new video. To polish and edit my video, after I downloaded it to YouTube, I downloaded it again as a MP4 and went to iMovie on my computer. I attached some music that I found on SoundCloud, added a title and a credits page, and put in some transitions to wrap it up.
I can see so many useful applications for and improved teaching practices from the creation of my own media in the classroom. I am trying to implement personalized learning, and media creation definitely fits into that criteria. With videos I create, I can accommodate students who do not succeed in a traditional classroom, I can reinforce lessons I taught in class, and I can offer students the opportunity to work ahead. Students will have more choices, and I think that is what personalized learning is all about.
However, teachers creating media can find themselves in some disappointing scenarios. Days designated for media use can always go wrong: the internet or power can fail, carefully chosen apps can crash or malfunction, and/or student engagement can fail to measure up to what the teacher anticipates. Ambitious intentions for improving instructions are great, but time is a hungry thing (I certainly never have enough of it).
I think if I were fortunate enough to teach the same content for a few years in a row, I might be able to add a few new pieces of media to my instruction each year. That would give me time to try things out and judge if they are effective or not. I’m excited about the video I created today. I think that the essays turned in will only improve, now that students can go back and get the instructions again at their own pace. Only time (and grades) will tell…
For the past 14 years, the Internet has evolved from a “read-only” world to a participatory one. The term Web 2.0 was coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2005 in describing the Internet’s rapid evolution after what he describes as the bursting of the dot.com bubble in 2001 (O’Reilly, 2005). The race began with participants such as Google Adsense, Flickr, Napster, etc, and is today a field full of competitors. For now, FaceBook is among them as it has outlasted MySpace and Google Plus, but the younger generation has moved on to different mediums. According to O’Reilly (2010), a key principle of Web 2.0 is that, “the service gets better the more people use it.” Sadly, this interactive and participatory digital world has made a slow entrance into the field of education.
While it is true that educational Web 2.0 applications have been around for many years, getting the word out to and training thousands of teachers how to use these programs has been a slow process. Fortunately, schools of education are sending young teachers who are much more prepared to face this challenge. Teachers need to use technology in the classroom in such a way as to encourage collaboration and interactivity. In their article for the MacArthur Foundation, authors describe this new participatory culture as having, “Low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some types of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices” (Clinton et al., n.d.).
New language and new environments are finding their way into classrooms through databases of edtech that are being pulled together for teachers. David Nagel, educational director for 1105 Media’s Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief for THE Journal and STEAM Universe, wrote about where educators turn for research into emerging technologies. Nagel’s research group interviewed 1,100 educators from 50 states and found that,
80% believe in the potential for edtech to positively impact teaching and learning
69% keep up with edtech research consistently
70% talk about edtech research with colleagues
64% talk about edtech research in planning meetings (Nagel, 2018)
Research shows that many teachers turn to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Jefferson Education Exchange (JEX), and/or Common Sense Education for databases of tools – most of which include context about how they are meant to be used (Nagel, 2018 & Pierce, 2018). For example, the ISTE has more than 5,000 tools in their database. Exciting things are happening in classrooms around the US as teachers use how to integrate technology into their lesson plans. Dennis Pierce (2018) talks about a few innovative interactive apps that use augmented or virtual reality (AR and VR): Elements 4D, Ausrasma, 3D Printer, Expeditions AR, Ricoh Theta, and UNREAL ENGINE. Shelly Jones from Little Rock Middle School says that, “Learning how to build virtual 3D environments ‘gives kids an advantage’ if they want to pursue a career in science or technology” (Pierce, 2018).
Here is a helpful evaluative tool that arrived in my mailbox TODAY from www.LearnPlatform.com/educators
Emerging Edtech (that I currently use in my classroom)
Plickers – This is a quick and easy way to get a snapshot assessment in the classroom. One needs to download the app to both a desktop and a mobile device and then enter a multiple choice quiz. Students are given a card with a computer code on it that varies, depending on which direction the student holds it. The teacher then scans the classroom with his/her mobile device and the app interprets the data. It works very well and has few downsides.
Insert Learning – This program is brand new to me, but I am really enjoying it. A teacher now has the ability to assign a website for reading that she/he has already prepped with questions, videos, and/or discussion. Insert Learning puts a Chrome extension into one’s browser for easy access.
Grade Cam – Grade Cam takes scantron to new levels. Teachers can easily enter a key for multiple choice tests and print off the forms for students to fill out. Students then use a computer’s camera to scan their answer sheets and they can copy down the numbers of the problems they missed (to correct if allowed…). I use this often!
Turnitin.com– I use turnitin.com for all my English essays. I love how it speaks easily with Google Docs for my students to upload their essays from our Chromebooks. My students quickly learn that the plagiarism checker is foolproof; the grammar checker also help cut down my grading time.
Newsela – Newsela is a neat way to do current events in the classroom. It gives teachers the option of choosing the difficulty level of the articles they assign to their students.
Popplet – I have only used Popplet once, but it was a fun way to do a thinking web. I plan to use it in my classroom as well.
Finally, Jennifer Gonzalez, from the Cult of Pedagogy, publishes a list of her picks for the top edtech tools in each year. This year’s list, “6 EdTech Tools to Try in 2018,” is where I found Insert Learning.
One Teacher’s Opinion About Technology in the Classroom
Mostly, I am overwhelmed; my career has been characterized by change. In the past 18 years, I have raised 6 kids, moved countless times, and taught all of the following subjects in 9 different schools: journalism, theater, civics, current events, 7th grade math, Bible, US history, world history, art, Brit lit, Am. lit, college prep composition, German, English 9, English 10, English 7, and geography. I have had little time to grade or plan, let alone go back to school or learn new technology for classroom. I didn’t even know what Web 2.0 was until a few days ago. However, after only 2 semesters back to school, I am so on board now! I am really stunned at all the cool stuff out there and wish I had more time to start implementing it all! One of my peers retweeted a post from @Larryferlazzo about his criteria in choosing Web 2.0 tools, “free, figure it out in < 1 min, teach kids in < 2 . mins, and added benefit over pen and paper.” I really like that.
My position is this: I believe that it is vitally important to the young people of this generation that they leave school with the ability to navigate safely and productively in a digital world. We absolutely should be teaching them digital literacy and digital citizenship skills. Period.
Web 2.0 From the Beginning to Today (A Synopsis)
Like a phoenix, the open web emerged from the ashes after the dot.com bubble burst between 2000-2002. According to O’Reilly (2005), “There’s an implicit architecture of participation, a built-in ethic of cooperation, in which the service acts primarily as an intelligent broker, connecting the edges to each other and harnessing the power of the users themselves.” This interesting comment about the spirit of cooperation sounds applicable to the Creative Commons today. O’Reilly believed that a successful vendor could not lock down the platform, without weakening it (Madrigal, 2017). Madrigal goes on to say that this proved untrue as the iPhone and Apple apps grew in popularity and the time people spent on the open web decreased. However, I think that the current IP argument and “Share, Collaborate, Remix, and Reuse” sounds like the message that O’Reilly was preaching. Surely, Web 3.0 is not far off.
As an aside, I was thinking about my own history with computers and the Web. For several years, the only computers I owned were my dad’s rejects. My first was his old desktop computer in 1997. I got my first new one in 2005 and my first laptop in 2008 (a school district issued one). In the classroom, from 2007 and earlier, do not remember using computers at all or having access to them ; 2008-2011 – it seems like I had access to a library or computer lab ; 2011-2018 – I had access to at least one rolling cart of computers, with increasing availability through the years ; 2018-19 – I got my first classroom set of computers/Chromebooks. All English teachers in our building got Chromebooks, but the rest of our staff still has to check out carts from the library.
Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (n.d.). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Building the Field of Digital Media and Learning. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://www.macfound.org/media/article_pdfs/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.
Jacobsen, M. (2015). Teaching in a Participatory Digital World. Education Canada Magazine,55(3), fall. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from http://galileo.org/teaching-in-a-participatory-digital-world/
Koba, M. (2015, April 28). Education tech funding soars — but is it working in the classroom? Retrieved October 11, 2018, from http://fortune.com/2015/04/28/education-tech-funding-soars-but-is-it-working-in-the-classroom/?scrlybrkr=9faec1c7
Madrigal, A. C. (2017, May 16). The Weird Thing About Today’s Internet. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/05/a-very-brief-history-of-the-last-10-years-in-technology/526767/
Nagel, D. (2018, July 26). Where Do Educators Turn for Research into the Effectiveness of Technology Tools? Retrieved October 11, 2018, from http://thejournal.com/articles/2018/07/26/where-do-educators-turn-for-research-into-the-effectiveness-of-technology-tools.aspx
O’Reilly, T. (2005, September 30). What Is Web 2.0. Retrieved October 15, 2018, from https://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html
Pierce, D. (2018, September 4). Virtual Reality Check. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2018/09/04/virtual-reality-check.aspx
Pierce, D. (2018, June 26). ISTE Reveals New Resources and Events for Ed Tech Leaders. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2018/06/26/iste-reveals-new-resources-and-events-for-ed-tech-leaders.aspx
I am a wife, mother of 6, grandmother to 8, friend to 800+ people on FB, student/scholar, teacher, disciple, and owner of several small businesses. With all of these different hats, my digital footprint is wide and as a result, so is my web presence. Because I am a public high school teacher, I am always conscious of the appropriateness of my digital interactions: my posts, photos, searches… In addition, the computer that I use is a school computer and more so the concern that it never be used for anything inappropriate (I have a teenage son). What if a student searches me? What if a parent sees a post I made? Besides my caution regarding my online reputation, I am also aware of the huge marketing potential of the Web for my small businesses. How easy is it to come across my Airbnb website? Am I tagging all the very best posts, reviews, and photos? However, until recently I have not given much thought to how even the most innocent searches could look if they turn up out of context. These footprints we leave behind us are a big part of our web presence.
The prescribed video by the Internet Society (2016), “4 Reasons to Care About Your Digital Footprint,” describes one’s digital footprint as the traces we leave behind when we use the Internet. On her blog about digital footprints, Kristina Erickson (2018) calls them information that is passively and actively shared by you and “information that’s created through your activities and communication online” (para. 9). In fact, in paragraph 19 of her blog, Ms. Erickson (2018) uses the term web presence in the same context as digital footprints. Whether the two terms share a different definition appears to be a matter of opinion as they have been used interchangeably on several sites I searched.
Managing Your Public and Private Web Presence
The internet is full of advice for how to manage your business web presence. For the most part, I do not separate my business from my personal accounts. My life is an open book… Forbes has dozens of sites one can visit to learn how to better utilize social media for marketing, to include keeping your website current, tagging, and blogging meaningful and relevant posts. Honestly, I lost steam on Instagram recently after a disappointment. I went through all my photos and added a bunch of hashtags to each. My following went up by 20-30 and then subsequently nose-dived to previous lows. I learned that the social media crowd is a fickle bunch. I do think I could get a handle on it, but it will be a huge investment in time that I do not currently have.
Can I manage my private spaces? From what I have read in my research over the past couple of days, apparently I am not doing a very good job and have been lucky so far. I looked at one article about how a company called Medium uses our data from Facebook and another aboout how we have shadow contact information that is also being shared. I also Googled myself and all that comes up is my FaceBook pages and my business. That’s all okay with me, but I am worried about what I cannot see. As I quipped above, my life IS an open book. I intentionally live my life this way, so that I do truly have nothing to hide. I want to avoid all appearances of impropriety, so living my life in the open seems a good way to do that. Except… I do wonder sometimes if my openness about my religious beliefs online might put me under a microscope with my employers, but I am careful to never bring it into my classroom. I will be making some attempts to tweak my online presence; creating/reinforcing private spaces and strengthening security.
Kristina Erickson (2018) suggests the following steps to manage your information online:
Google yourself:Take inventory of what’s out there. Search for your name every few months, so you’re cognizant of the information others have access to.
Set up Google alerts: Hanif recommends setting up a Google alert for your name. The tool will then send you occasional alerts of every post that has your name on it.
Protect your personal data: Don’t disclose your personal address, phone number, passwords or bank card numbers. Consider using a nickname instead of your real name.
Keep login info under lock and key: Never share any of your usernames or passwords with anyone.
Think before you post: Never put a temporary emotion on the permanent internet. Anger is temporary; online lasts forever. Pause before you post: Think twice, post once, advises Sue Scheff, online defamation survivor and author of Shame Nation.
Nix the pics: Any photo you post could be dug up some day. Limit your sharing of questionable images. Fifteen minutes of humor is never worth a lifetime of potential humiliation, adds Scheff. (para. 16)
How to Address the Topic of Web Presence with High School Students
Teaching students about their web presence has been extraordinarily overlooked in all of the places where I have taught. When I took my digital citizenship class this summer, I was stunned by how much I didn’t know. All of the English classes in my building do a digital citizenship lesson, but we are barely scratching the surface. Digital citizenship teaches students many aspects of building and maintaining a safe and responsible web presence. I wrote a blog about this topic this past summer which I attached below.
Besides the 4 mentioned in the text and the 2 listed below, I shared 4 websites that I found during my research on raindrop.io and another on Twitter.
Erickson, K. (2018, May 16). Your Digital Footprint: What Is It and How Can You Manage It? [Web log post]. Retrieved October 2, 2018, from https://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/college-life/what-is-digital-footprint/
[Internet Society]. (2016, January 12). Retrieved October 03, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro_LlRg8rGg&feature=youtu.be
Metacognition. That is a word I had to look up at the beginning of my first semester back at school; I don’t know if I forgot the definition or if I never knew it. How do I learn? Years ago, during my first semester at school, I took a humanities course. Now, one should understand, I am a huge history-buff. But this particular humanities course… my stars. It was an insult to boring courses everywhere, or so I thought at 19. My recitation teacher told me that my disdain for this course was fueled by my passion as a “guns and bugles” history lover. Now I realize, that in order for me to really learn something, I need to dig. This digging or research, call it educational archeology, is often tedious. That is why 19-year old me hated it. I was lazy, unmotivated, and distracted. I didn’t want to know why Copernicus wrote, “The Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres.” I just wanted the teacher to tell me what he wanted me to know about Copernicus. I often still find this type of learning tedious, but I now have the motivation to make it happen – and then I learn from it. As an aside, I would like to comment that I wish I could figure out how to inspire the motivation to do this kind of digging in high school. This encouraging comment by Terry Heick (2017) reminded me that I am not the only who struggles with this question. “Design. Try. Monitor. Fail. Reflect. Rethink. Redesign. Reiterate” (para. 12).
In the iTeachU video about PLEs, Dan LaSota (2018) observes that “What makes PLEs effective is metacognitive practices, human communication, and purposeful daily routines.” Rhizomatic learning is a way of looking at those metacognitive practices. It is acknowledging that our learning styles are inseparable from our identities. I have only begun to scratch the surface of an understanding for this topic, but I found little that I disagreed with during my research overall. I did, however, have a problem with Dave Cormier’s (2011, Nov 5) comments about “nomad” learners vs “soldiers.”
In a recent blog post i tried to offer three visions for ‘what education is for’ to help provide a departure point for discussion. Workers take accepted knowledge and store it for future reference. They accept that things are true and act accordingly. The soldier acquires more knowledge and becomes responsible for deciding what things are going to be true. The nomads make decisions for themselves. They gather what they need for their own path. I think we should be hoping for nomads (Blog post).
I’m not convinced that being a soldier is bad thing. That’s kind of funny, isn’t it? Doesn’t that just circle right back to my story about why I didn’t like humanities?
In my own epic Odyssey of education, I have never really been a partaker a personal learning environment. I have neither contributed to nor consumed from the professional educational community – I have been a nomad of a more solitary sort. However, that is all quickly changing with this ONID program. The graphic below demonstrates the beginning of my new course of interaction with my peers.
I did find a couple of interesting sites that I have collected for future reference. I have not finished reading them, but thought I would share them nonetheless. The first two relate to PLNs. The others relate to learning and identity.
Cormier, D. (2011, November 5). Rhizomatic Learning – Why we teach? Retrieved September 24, 2018, from http://davecormier.com/edblog/2011/11/05/rhizomatic-learning-why-learn/
Heick, T. (2017, July 23). Rhizomatic Learning Is A Metaphor For How We Learn. Retrieved September 24, 2018, from https://www.teachthought.com/learning/rhizomatic-learning-is-a-metaphor-for-how-we-learn/
LaSota, D. (2018, September 04). Personal Learning Environments. Retrieved September 24, 2018, from https://iteachu.uaf.edu/personal-learning-environments/
In “Why ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters” and “The Web We Need to Give Students,” Audrey Watters discusses the initiative of the same name at University of Mary Washington. She suggests that if all scholars, including educators and students, had their own domains that Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the Web as a place of information sharing and knowledge-building collaborations could be realized. The idea to have a space where one can store and protect their own scholarship.
I love the idea. I agree with Watters that students have lost control of their own personal data and that the classroom is a technological silo. I also think she is right that it would be wonderful if students built digital portfolios that could be used as “a way to track growth and demonstrate new learning over the course of a student’s school career.” I could definitely use a portfolio like this in evaluating a student’s progress. My instructor in this class has required a website from his students as a place to publish assignments, give feedback, and interact with the cohort of other students who are taking this class. Just going through the motions increases one’s confidence in navigating the stormy waters of the Web.
However, I do see a couple of problems. I hate to be a grammar fiend, but either Watters overestimates the effect of technology on growth and education, or this sentence needs to be rephrased, “They [students and staff] can think about how these technologies shape the formation of their understanding of the world – how knowledge is formed and shared; how identity is formed and expressed.” Wait, what? Technology formed my understanding of the world? Technology forms my knowledge? Technology formed my identity? Am I off-base? I think the sentence should read like this instead, “They can think about how the formation of their understanding of the world, including how knowledge is formed/shared and how identity is formed/expressed, can be shaped by technology.
Secondly, I don’t see how the introduction of this level of technology education in high schools is even remotely feasible at the present time. In order to immerse students in technology across the board – build these domains/portfolios in each classroom throughout a student’s school career – all teachers would need to be digitally literate. I am voluntarily taking an expensive course during my summer vacation in order to learn some of these things, but I am only scratching the surface. During the school year, I don’t have the time necessary to do one thing more. I think the only chance for this type of change would be a very slow process. As newly educated and licensed teachers to bring technological know-how into their classrooms and the older teachers retire, the norms will begin to change. Then, we could give students what Watters describes as a way to “shape their own cognition, learning, expression, and reflection in a digital age, in a digital medium.”
Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web We Need to Give Students – BRIGHT Magazine. Retrieved June 23, 2018, from