Posts Tagged PLN
Last week I was walking a colleague through Twitter and thought now may be a good time to pen a post with some tips for new users. In particular I want to encourage new users in the education sector to build their profile on Twitter and explore its potential as a personal learning network.
- I can check in any time and browse items that have been tweeted by people I have decided to follow
- It’s not full of banal updates about people’s personal life, as on Facebook
- If I don’t check it for ages I don’t get in trouble and there is no obligation to ‘catch up’ (unlike email)
- I have found the most amazing connections from around the world that I otherwise would not have – it is a real networking platform
In just a couple of weeks from now our Queensland English and literacy teaching associations are co-hosting our annual national conference. We have set up a Twitter handle (@EngLit2013) and declared a hashtag (#BNW13) for the event. With luck this medium will take off during the event and lots of teachers will experiment with using Twitter, perhaps for the first time.
This post, therefore, is written with school teachers and English/literacy educators in mind, as well as my colleagues at university.
If you have joined Twitter but still don’t really know what to do with it, this post is for you!
1. Hatch your egg
Many people I talk to feel nervous about writing their first tweet and following lots of people. So let’s not start there!
The first thing I like to get people doing with Twitter is making their profile page inviting to potential followers.
When you first create a profile on Twitter you will be given the default egg image as your picture. But you are not an egg! You aren’t even a chicken! You are a person!
It’s very important to update your profile picture, or ‘hatch you egg’, to show others that you are active online. By adding an avatar that better represents you, the service will also start to seem more interesting to you.
2. Add a bio
I rarely follow anyone who doesn’t have a bio, and many others have the same rule. Why? Not because I’m a Twitter-snob, but because without a bio it’s hard to tell who you freakin are!
Some people are reluctant to add a bio, worried that it will reveal too much about them, breach their privacy, or make them identifiable to their employer.
My tips for educators that are worried about such things are:
- Don’t feel pressured to name your workplace. Terms like ‘maths teacher’ or ‘science educator’ give us enough information to go on.
- Avoid declaring your religious or political affiliations, unless you are very comfortable doing so.
- Get in the habit of only saying things online that you would proudly stand by if your employer saw it.
- Don’t include your location if you have concerns about privacy or safety. You can always add this in later, once you are comfortable.
If in doubt, just browse a few other profiles until you get a feel for the kind of things people write. Many people are happy sharing that they are a husband, wife, parent of three, dog-lover etc. Writing such things is OK and entirely within the genre of a ‘professional’ bio. It’s all up to you and what you want to signal about yourself and your passions/priorities to others.
3. Follow about 15 people
I’ve heard a lot of recommendations about the ideal number of people to follow to get connections happening on Twitter. I suggest you will need to follow at least 50 people to see real ‘action’ on your feed…but following that many people is very overwhelming to most new users!
If you don’t follow enough people though, it will be difficult to see the point of Twitter.
So if you are a teacher trying to get the hang of microblogging I advise following about 15 other profiles straight away. This will give you enough material to read when you check Twitter that you are bound to find interesting things and start to see ‘the point’.
Here is a selection of profiles that I often recommend to English teachers new to Twitter:
- @edutopia (kick-ass education resources)
- @heyjudeonline (teacher-librarian)
- @BiancaH80 (English teacher)
- @Darcy1968 (Deputy Principal)
- @englishteachers (AATE – professional association)
If you are happy to follow celebrities there is also @MargaretAtwood, @stephenfry and @rickygervais. Sometimes they tweet A LOT though, so if that gets too intense, always feel free to UNFOLLOW people – we don’t take it personally on Twitter!
4. Write a tweet!
This is actually the easiest part.
You can choose to say something, ask a question, or share a link with others.
What you must keep in mind though is that Twitter is NOT Facebook. There are no ‘likes’ (though tweets can be re-tweeted or added to a favourites list) and many times you will say things that get no reply or comment. Not single one. Don’t be sad about this!
Be confident in the knowledge that people may be reading your tweets, but not replying. You will do this to them too – it’s OK.
Also be confident that even if no-one notices your tweet, that what you wrote was still worth saying. You might even come back to your own tweets every now and then to rediscover links or information you have shared. Your Twitter feed is as much for you as it is for others.
If you want lots of people to see your tweet you can include what is called a hashtag in your post – popular ones include #edchat and #edtech. There are also subject-specific hashtags, such as the #ozengchat tag for Australian English teachers to use for chatting.
5. That’s enough for now…go and get a coffee :)
Once you’ve added a profile picture and a bio, followed some people and posted a tweet, you are well on your way to being an effective microblogger.
Tweeting directly to people by including their handle (e.g. @kmcg2375) in your post and including hashtags can increase the number of replies you get, but you will find this out as you go.
One final thought for those of you who are wary of joining ‘yet another’ social media service…not all social networks are the same.
Give Twitter a decent try, checking in at least once a week for a month, you’ll see what I mean :)
Are you a teacher? An English teacher, perhaps? Trying to find where the good chats are on Twitter? Look no further! Start by searching for these three English-curriculum-related hashtags and you’ll be on your way to finding and conversing with other teachers just like you!
If you search for this hashtag on Tuesday nights, you’ll find Australian English teachers talking about their craft, ideas and resources.
The #ozengchat group also has a page on Edmodo, which is where voting for the weekly topic takes place (a group code for Edmodo can be obtained by tweeting @vivimat78). Vivian, who convenes the chat, also collects our chat tweets in a weekly online storyline using ‘Storify’.
#ozengchat officially takes place on Tuesday from 8.30pm – 9.30pm, Australian EDST (i.e. GMT +11)
As well as a special hashtag for Australian folk, there is also a more general #engchat hashtag that is coordinated for a more global chat.
Currently the #engchat tag seems to be heavily used by teachers in the US – as a result you can see some interesting discussion taking place there now about the implementation of ‘Common Core Standards’ across their states. And of course also a lot of resources being shared that we otherwise might not stumble across through our own local networks!
#engchat takes place at 7pm in the States (EST) every Monday, which is 10am – 12pm on Tuesdays in Australia (Eastern time).
You can follow the #literacies hashtag on the 1st and 3rd Thursday every month. The convenors are based in the US, so the chat happens on Thursday night for them, which is Friday lunch-time in Australia.
This chat is supported by a very up-to-date and informative blog, where a record is kept of the chats and upcoming topics.
The #literacies tag can be added to your tweets at any time, but Friday 12pm – 1pm (Eastern time) is when you’ll see it live in Australia (i.e. Thursday night 8-9pm in the US).
A tip for non-tweeters:
If you want to check out these tags, but don’t really want to get involved in Twitter or create your own account, never fear!
You can search for these tags any time by going to the Twitter homepage and typing the hashtag (complete with its ‘#’ at the start) into the search bubble. You will need to make your own account to reply with your own tweets, but until then there’s no harm in lurking and learning from afar ;)
Hi folks – it’s been a bit quiet here on the blog, I know.
All I can say is … omg MARKING!
I have always had an interest in assessment, but this semester has made really clear to me how dire the situation is with our current practices.
I don’t want to ‘buy out’ my marking (i.e.pay someone else to do it for me) but I feel like I am wasting so much of my time at the grindstone, like a machine, writing the same lines over and over in delightful pink pen in the margins of my students’ work.
“Check the APA style guide for rules about how to format this”
“Formal essays require shorter paragraphs than this”
“Avoid rhetorical questions – make strong statements instead”
“Use your introduction to tell me what your main points will actually be, not to explain the structure of your work”
“Don’t use a quote as a sentence on it’s own – introduce it i.e. ‘Sawyer (year) explains that…’”
“You have not included reference to any unit readings in this rationale”
I worry about RSI. I worry about carpal tunnel! Marking more tasks electronically next semester will hopefully fix the hand ache, but what about the mind ache??
I’m not alone – every teacher reading this knows what I mean.
What are we going to do about it?
This semester I have been leading a group of future Teacher Librarians through the Masters of Ed. unit ‘Youth, popular culture and texts‘.
For their second assignment they have to contribute to a group learning blog.
Here are links to blog posts from each of the SIX student blog groups that I will be charged with assessing at the end of October:
- Group M: http://jeanetteki.edublogs.org/2012/10/01/tv-shows-i-loved-growing-up-by-gina-mcpherson/
- Group C: http://cln647groupc.edublogs.org/sample-page/
- Group G: http://shellnye.edublogs.org/2012/09/16/successfully-logged-in-to-blog/
- Group R: http://whatishotandwhatisnot.edublogs.org/2012/10/10/gaming-as-learning/
- Group A: http://kpak.edublogs.org/2012/10/03/putting-the-social-into-reading/
- Group W: http://walwoowar.edublogs.org/2012/09/13/is-this-popular-culture-text/
I would be really grateful if folks could click through to any of these and drop a comment!
For many students in this unit it is their first attempt at adding to a blog like this – an extra comment here and there will make a big difference to their experience.
Thanks in advance :)
English teachers who blog
I’ve just come home from the AATE 2012 national conference in Sydney. It was exceptionally energising to spend two whole days and nights talking face-to-face with people in my PLN, as well as getting to know my colleagues better and meet new people.
One of the sessions that I spoke in was a panel discussion on being a teacher that blogs. Here is a piccie of me with the other panellists @Darcy1968 and @BiancaH80 with our chair @melanne_k:
Why we need more voices online
There are so many things I would love to write a blog post about, based on ideas I heard or conversations I had at the AATE conference. BUT – I know I won’t get a chance to write about them all! So, the first reason that more teachers need to blog is to literally get more of these ideas recorded:
- Andrew Burn outlined a ’3Cs’ model of media literacy – Cultural, Critical, Creative. How does this differ to other models of literacy (e.g. Green’s 3D model, Luke & Freebody’s 4 Resources model)?
- Bianca’s presentation on Project Based Learning emphasised the role of assessment. I have also found this to be very important, have others?
- Gillian Whitlock from UQ presented some really interesting ideas about humanitarian perspectives on literature and children’s writing. She showed refugee writing from Australia and artwork that had been created to memorialise the refugee journey. Definitely someone in Queensland to talk to or hear from again!
- The hashtag #5bells was used pretty successfully as a conference backchannel, I thought! What can we learn from this and how can we improve the experience for 2013 in Brisbane?
- Vivian (@vivimat78) did us all a big favour by collecting many of the #5bells tweets via storify…this is super helpful and valued, as hashtags are no longer searchable, after a time period, and we don’t want to lose all that great sharing!
- Vivian also coordinates the #ozengchat twitter chat and edmodo group. What relationship might exist in the future between AATE and #ozengchat? How can/do they support each other?
- We got to say so much to each other in real life (IRL)! Talking uses up soooo many characters! Face-to-face conversations are fun :)
- Hip Hop – OMG Adam Bradley was convincing. All the copies of his ‘anthology’ book sold out, and so many people left the keynote ready to exchange their cardigans for hoodies… In response I’ve started a Twitter list: trust-me-i-m-cool for teachers looking for Aussie Hip Hop links. One love!
- I found the closing keynote by Bill Green and Jane Mills to be quite problematic. I understand their point to be that linguistic frameworks have taken over the analysis of ‘the visual’, and that ‘cinephiles’ understand film in a much more ‘visceral’ way. I don’t agree. I think this contrast is weird, given the way I cry like a baby when reading some books, and (I believe) can successfully understand the moving image, thank-you-very-much. I usually love Bill’s stuff, but would rather have heard about his theories on ‘spatial literacy’ than be told English teachers are inadequate at teaching film…wrong crowd for that idea bill and jane, wrong crowd indeed.
I’m sure there is more, but these are the big ideas that I would ideally tackle in the next couple of months. Who will help me? (Will it be you?)
Don’t do it for me, do it for you!
In the panel that we did, quite a few people wanted to talk about how to get more people commenting on their posts. This is a good question, and our suggestions included:
- Comment on other people’s posts so that they come and visit your blog
- Let people know you have written a post by putting the URL up on Twitter (you’ll need an account)
- Use categories and tags wisely to help search engines find your post
However, I really do believe in the power of reflective writing for learning, and I encourage any new blogger to write posts for themselves as much as for an imaginary audience. It’s OK to talk to yourself here!
Think about it – how many times have you tried to convince a student to do a piece of reflective writing for homework, because you know the benefits it will have for their learning? Writing up your experiences on a blog can have the same benefit for you! The mere process of deciding “what will I publish information about this time?” will put you more in touch with the successes and obstacles in your practice, I really do believe this.
So that’s the second big reason. Start a blog for yourself, because if you haven’t yet, then I think you need to.
If you think you “can’t find time to write anything, ever”, then making time to do this will hopefully help you see ways to make time for other things too. And don’t worry – the blogging police aren’t going to arrest you if you don’t add anything for 3 months!
And because all good things come in threes…
The third reason why more English teachers should start a blog is because teachers who blog and share their resources are usually friendly, generous and just plain fun to hang out with.
And the more we share our work and resources, hopefully the more time we can put back in to spending quality time with our students, friends and families x
It was interesting to follow the tweets of @BiancaH80 and @durk94 tonight, as they discussed the school funding data available on the MySchool website.
To be honest, in the interests of keeping myself in a positive and generative work state of mind I’ve avoided looking at the new MySchool site at all (and no, I’m not going to hyperlink to it because I don’t think it deserves the traffic). Next week I’m going to have to though, so I can talk about it with my students in class.
Even though I now work at a university, which involves striving for curriculum excellence in schools in every sector, I maintain my firm commitment to the social justice agenda of supporting public education.
However, government departments of education tend to be clunky, inefficient, wheel-reinventing institutions. I know, I used to work in one. And if I returned to teaching you’d find me back there.
But while funding and resource benchmarks are a large part of the problem, a widespread lack of willingness to consider radically shifting our models of curriculum ‘delivery’ prevents the construction of a meaningful way forward, in my opinion. The composition of the local student ‘community’ and its relationship to the related local ‘campus’ needs to be significantly rethought.
So I’m posting my tweets for tonight up here, just for the record. I’d be interested in hearing other people’s visions for the school campus of the future. Will there still be a distinction between ‘public’ and ‘private’?
I hope not.
Part of the re-vamp I’m undertaking of English Curriculum Studies 1 to ‘make it my own’ is to use the first tutorial as time to:
- get to know each other and form reading groups, and
- start the students building their online PLN, or personal learning network
Bianca is a key node in my personal learning network, and her thoughts, arguments and resource links pervade my personal learning environment – we follow each other on Twitter, read each others blogs and are connected as friends on Facebook. For me this illustrates two important elements I have found to be instrumental in building my PLN
- that learning happens everywhere (even in ‘personal’ spaces like Facebook)
- that a good learning environment is ‘personal’ in a very literal sense – friendly, generous and warm
It’s worth recording some of the building blocks of our collaboration thus far. I’ll pick up the thread where I saw Bianca’s tweeting away while she prepared English lessons for Term 1 at the end of the summer holiday and started asking questions, to which she replied:
I had heard about PBL, but hadn’t used it well so far myself. So I asked Bianca for some help because…well, that’s one of the lessons of this story really. She’s in my PLN. I know she’ll send me what she can, when she can. As a learner, I’ve had an opportunity to personally ask her though about what it is I want to know. And because I want to teach PBL, I know I need to learn more about it, and draw on the expertise of others:
SUCCESS! A willing expert!
To maximise Bianca’s willingness to let me pick her brain, I emailed her some more specific questions about what I wanted to learn:
Now Bianca is back at school and has preparing materials for her ‘Innovator’s Workshop’, while I’ve been busy working away on thesis corrections and planning the learning sequence for my English Curriculum Studies Unit CLB018. This has included making a blogging ‘hub’ for the tutorial groups to compliment the QUT Blackboard resources and a twitter account for unit related tweets. She’s created a Prezi with the information she would like to share about PBL with my class (yesss!) and now even if we don’t get a video interview or link of some sort as I had originally envisaged, I feel like I have enough material to move forward and teach this concept to my pre-service teachers.
Bianca’s Prezi includes a Common Craft video about personal learning networks, which links to the website for bie.org , so now I also have two killer links to refer people on to who are new to PBL. Are you? Why not watch the common craft video now, you’ve come this far:
So, THAT is the story of how having a PLN that you love and put energy into building pays back in spades.
If nothing else I hope that giving my students this path and these tools for expanding their personal learning environments will encourage them to look forward to learning again. If they read this post they will see that learning done well doesn’t limit itself to one space, one person, or one network. I won’t be able to teach them everything I think is important about English Curriculum in nine weeks, and that’s why equipping them with the motivation and capability to keep learning beyond week 9 is priority number one.
Thanks Bianca for being in my PLN and for being part of this story :)
As you could glean from my last post, I’ve become a little sensitive to social media zealots who seem determined to paint everyone who is wary/concerned/resistant to social media as merely being scared, whimpy individuals.
This is not to say that very good points do not continue to be made in favour of using social media.
Barone makes a point that many of us using social media tools would make:
“The risks to exposing yourself to your customers and community aren’t nearly as severe as you may think; and the rewards are huge.”
However, she also sums up one of the best pieces of advice I would give about using social media:
“If you’re going to be a big boy and swim, and benefit from, these waters you have to be able to take it.”
These two mantras pretty much sum up the bulk of what I have seen going around in terms of the pros and cons of harnessing social media (in my context, to develop my PLN, as opposed to using it as a marketing tool etc.) However, the rhetoric that I often see invoked when a social media convert comes across a social media resistor is that the resistor is just ‘too old-fashioned’, ‘afraid of computers’, ‘non-reflective’, ‘too scared to share’ (and by extension, even ‘selfish’), or ‘a luddite’.
In my last post I suggested some other issues that, in my mind, are not currently being considered in enough depth, and which the ‘social media resistors’ are perhaps finding it hard to articulate because of their lack of familiarity with the technology. Interestingly, most people I would have expected to drop a comment were nowhere to be found…although it is school holidays, to be fair ;)
I suspect that discussions around how power is wielded within an identity-rich online PLE (Personal Learning Environment, consisting in part of social networking spaces like Twitter and Facebook) are difficult to have without putting noses out of joint. However, I also think that being open about how we construct and project our identities will be a test of whether we are ‘for real’ about connecting and collaborating in a democratic and generative way.
We can’t afford to be blind to reproductions of unhealthy practice in this brave new (connected, public) world.
I love, love, LOVE these slides by Sacha Chua:
I absolutely ADORE finding stuff on Slideshare that doesn’t rely on hearing the speaker (sometimes 100 slides just don’t make sense outta context, you dig?). This is my new favourite :) Best part of the message? “It’s OK if you don’t get it. We’re all still figuring things out”. So true.
Alas, Mr. K’s promotion up to Brisbane is in full swing, and now my HSC class is all wrapped up, it’s time for me to start my leave and follow suit. Term 4 I’ll be finishing my PhD (yes, “finally”), and next year I’ll find a casual or temporary teaching job in Brisbane. These are exciting times!
I know I have mentioned around the place that I am moving, but up until now I’ve been too busy to really think about it, or talk about it much. The last couple of days of school were quite teary, and a lot of students came out of the woodwork to say goodbyes and thank yous. It was sad, but lovely. I had some great class parties – thanks for the cards and presents :) I will miss my colleagues and students (not to mention family and friends!).
On Thursday, two comments that I found full of symbolism, and so very typical of an English teacher and her humanities-loving students ;) were these:
- I was talking with two very awesome students from year 10 about maybe going to their formal, and about some books I was supposed to lend them. I said that I would leave the books at school for them to read next term – that way we also could be sure that we’d see each other again before the end of the year, because I’d neeed to get my books back even if I didn’t go to the formal. And one of them started crying :(
- Later, another year 10 student brought me a present – a book where you write down all the books you want to read, books you love, and books you have leant out to other people (because she had had my copy of Eclipse for about 6 months, and I had forgotten!) We started talking about how the move was finally seeming real, and I mentioned that it had felt real to me once I found boxes to pack up my bookshelf. I reckon moving never seems really real until you acknowledge you’ll have to pack up your books. Then I started crying! Then we both were crying :(
Geeze, I had done so well all week! Ah well…I think most of you who have read this far will know how hard it can be to leave a school. But bright things are on the horizon!
I’ll be keeping up my blog, hopefully even improving it. One thing that is making the idea of moving easier is the strength and quality of my PLN…so thank you!
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