Posts Tagged social media

Risk-taking and risk-aversion in teaching

Happy 2014 to all! It seems I inadvertently took a blog break over summer holidays – a break from most things digital, in fact. I’m back in the swing of things now though, with a head full of ideas and energy stores replenished. Who knew I was so tired after 2013? Well OK, I did. Now you do too ;)

So, this is my fourth year at my job as a lecturer. How time flies eh? Reflecting on my time so far I can confidently say that I’ve continued the spirit of innovation I had as a high school teacher into my university teaching. I’ve pushed forward with using social networks to support student learning, with developing project-based learning pedagogies, and with developing blended learning experiences including wiki work and blog-based assessment.

But this week when I was offered a chance to trial a new technology with my class, I turned it down.

There are any number of reasons that teachers say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to trying something new. Watching this keynote by Sarah Howard from 2012 today gave me a chance to reflect on my own tendency to be a risk taker in my practice – I usually see the benefits of innovation as outweighing the costs:

…and boy last semester there were some costs. Some cyberbullying from a student really put a damper on my teaching with Twitter, and right at the end of last year I experienced a big delay in giving students assignment feedback after a swathe of electronic assignment files got deleted. Further technology fails ensued as I struggled to negotiate student assignment return via Blackboard, our university LMS. It was a nightmare, and a confidence shaker.  In a university teaching context where a whole semester of awesome learning can be overshadowed by a single student complaint to the wrong person, I ended 2013 wondering if all my efforts were ‘worth it’.

Fortunately I value innovation and creativity to such an extent that taking risks in pursuit of better practice is still worth it to me. In her keynote Howard explains that people are less likely to take a risk to pursue something they see no value in, which makes sense really.

I guess the shift for me will not be from being a risk-taker to being ‘risk-averse’ – I haven’t had the stuffing beat out of me quite hard enough yet to be averse to risk! For me the shift will be from high-stakes to more low-stakes risk; rather than pushing the boundaries with a wildly new practice I’ll be consolidating and refining my current pedagogies and taking stock of where I want to go with my teaching in 2015. Which will be nice timing, given the massive course changes we are implementing next year (PS. in six months if I disappear completely, somebody please come find me, I may be perishing under a mountain of new unit outlines…).

Do you see yourself as a risk-taker in your teaching? How risky are you planning to be in 2014?

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Building up my Pinterest resources

I wrote a little while ago about my venturing into the world of Pinterest. My first board was a collection of images and links relating to ‘Indigenous Studies‘.

This post is just an update on what else I’ve been pinning that other teachers might like to check out.

English teaching - Pinterest board

English teaching – Pinterest board

On my board for English teaching I have links to professional associations, related groups and institutions, magazines and journals, classroom resources for English, and other stuff I think an English teacher might like.

Pinterest board - Learning

Pinterest board – Learning

When I started finding resources for learning in general that weren’t specifically about English, I created this board for pins about Learning. There are some especially good things up to re-pin from Edutopia and Edudemic.

Pinterest board - Brisbane

Pinterest board – Brisbane

Finally, so that this post isn’t ALL work and no play, here is a link to the board I use to collect links to cool things to see and do in Brisbane. This board is great for when people come up here to visit, it means we always have a good list of things to do and see :)

If you’ve never used Pinterest before…

  • Don’t stress out about missing out. I don’t see it as one of those “you absolutely GOTTA have an account!” tools. Anyone can go and browse my Pinterest boards, which I’ve invested time in because I like to curate, and also because I think my students enjoy the visual layout of  links they would otherwise ignore in a reading list.
  • My ‘addiction’ (read – compulsion to add pins!) to this tool waned after about four weeks, but I still find myself coming back to it and liking it five months after signing up.
  • If you do decide after reading this post to go and make some Pinterest pin boards, ENJOY! I’ve really dug finding new resources this way, as well as thinking more carefully about how an icon or image ‘pin’ can represent an idea, association or resource.

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Google+ by Molly Rocketboom

If you’re still not sure how Google+ fits into your existing world of Facebook and/or Twitter, let Molly of Rocketboom break it down for you. Approx 4.5 mins:

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Facebook continues to grow

An article on the Inside Facebook blog reports that Facebook has grown to 175,000,000 active users with a growth rate of about 600,000 users a day in the past few weeks.

If Facebook were a country, it would now be the 6th most populous in the world.

Frankly I am not surprised.  The pace at which people live their lives has dramatically increased, in the past decade especially.  With many people living in a dual income household, or working second jobs, it’s hard to find time to ‘catch up’ with friends and family.  For teachers the amount of time spent at home preparing lessons, marking work and maintaining their professional development can be a severe drain on your ‘home time’.  Old ways of keeping in touch – hour long phone conversations, weekend visits, a night at the pub (eek – you mean I lose time tomorrow too!?) – are becoming rarer, and as a result there is so much pressure to make the most of time when you do see people IRL that the fun can be sucked right out of the experience.

When talking on the phone recently to a friend in the States (we normally use video call but the net was acting up) we found it very awkward at first trying to have a conversation without the benefit of the usual visual cues.  There wasn’t even an avatar!  And although we got used to it soon enough, it was easy to see why many people don’t relish using such cumbersome modes of communication anymore.  Does this make us inherently selfish? Overly insular?  I don’t know my own answer to that…yet.

What I must concede is that, for now, unless we want to miss out on ‘quality time’ with loved ones altogether, we will have to embrace (not reject!) these new modes of maintaining social connections.  As we move towards re-defining our notion of what it means to have a ‘personal connection’, online communitcation will take on a more personal tone.  And if this makes people feel more connected, isn’t this a good thing?

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Social Media in Plain English

A simple story from the commoncraft show that “illustrates the forces shaping social media”

more about “Social Media in Plain English“, posted with vodpod

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Voicethread

I can’t wait to start using Voicethread next Term!  I first heard about this tool at the AATE conference in July, and it turns out a few of my colleagues have been using it for awhile…if anyone has links to Voicethread projects they have done with their students I’d love to see them!

My initial thoughts are that I would like to use Voicethread for:

  • Year 9 poetry unit – students compose poetry and read it aloud with accompanying images for other students to view.  Perhaps also some collaborative poetry writing?
  • Debating Training – One week debates.  Students can record a real debate.  Starts with 1st Affirmative speaker, then following speakers get 24 hours each to respond; runs like a ‘real’ debate.

Some great tips and ideas for using Voicethread can be found on Wesley Fryer’s blog.  I have just joined the English Group on the Voicethread Ning, and am hoping to get more ideas and tips from there.

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