Question 1) For my RSS feeds portion of this assignment I used feedly. I found this website to be very interesting and easy to use. I was able to follow many informative pages about education and history, which is my area of focus. Some of the pages i decided to follow include Cool Cat Teacher Blog, Free Technology for Teachers, Blueprint for History Education, The History Blog, World History Teacher’s Blog, and This Day in History. These sites provided various YouTube videos about new educational tools, tips from current teachers, discussions about teaching styles, and some cool and interesting facts about history that would keep students engaged. For example, the site This Day in History is one that i will most likely use in my classroom. It provides an interesting event that happened on the current date sometime in history. Lets say, to make this even more clear, that I was teaching my class on October 21, i would begin our session by telling them that on his day in 1962, President Kennedy confirmed that there was missiles present in Cuba. We would then have a quick discussion on what this meant for America’s foreign relations.
Another thing i learned from one of the sites i subscribed to, Free Technology for Teachers, actually helped me complete another portion of this assignment. The site provided a YouTube video for teachers entitled “How to search twitter for educational content”. This video explains the concept of hashtags, how to use keywords, and basically what teachers need to look for in order to find resources and ideas that may not be found through a google search.
Question 2) Twitter may be something used by many people that are my age, but to me it is a foreign language that i simply do not have time for. Before this assignment i did not see the point of twitter other than telling the world everything i was doing at every second of every day. I thought it was a complete waist of time and a hyper social media site that was simply unnecessary. However, after exploring twitter from the mindset of an educator, i actually found it to be informative and helpful. After making my twitter account i decided to follow a number of pages that caught my attention including Creative Education, Urban Education, NatGeo Education, History Education, History in Pictures, Education Week, Times Education, The Education Trust, and one of my favorite CSUSM professors Ibrahim Al-Marashi. All of the accounts that i followed approached education from a different way. Some were focused on creative ways to portray information that would keep students engaged, one was focused on education within urban areas and how teachers must shape their lessons towards urban minded students, while others were focused on historical facts, events, and even pictures. Some were focused on education in America and were an outlet for teachers to speak their mind about our system, while others were focused on the global education issues including the global economy, mathematics, global warming, ect.
i followed a few has tag discussions to see the conversations that were being held and was surprised to learn the diversity of topics that surrounded one hashtag. The hashtags i followed were #edchat, #education, #educationconnection, #historyteacher, and #futureteacher. The one that had to most interesting content was edchat. Edchat was used by many different people who were talking about many different things. For example, @civilrights.org used it to push their thoughts on the opportunity gaps for children of color while @KaplanCo used it to share an article from the NY times on great methods for teaching preschoolers.
Question 3)Diigo is something that i was introduced to in Education 422A. It is a site that i found to be very useful! It was very easy for me to use Diigo as place where i would bookmark and tag websites that i might want to come back to in the future. I was also to use it as a somewhat social media type page as well. i was able to share what i found with fellow classmates, invite them to follow my page, and explore their pages as well. I follow three of my classmates and my teacher on Diigo. Through my teacher, Regina Anderson’s, webpage i was able to figure out how to better use bookmarks and sticky notes. I also searched the keyword PLN and found this very interesting webpage all about what a PLN is and how to use it.
Question 4) For the Ning Groups portion of this assignment I chose to explore The Educator’s PLN page. I found this page to be a social networking site where teachers would create their own webpage and then connect with other teachers. It felt like a community of teachers who shared their experiences, ideas, and knowledge with other people. There were many YouTube videos posted for members to watch that covered a variety of topics like “the number one mistake everybody makes on twitter” and “innovations and conversations”. I also found the section called forum to be very interesting. This is where members could post a discussion topic and other members of the site could comment and create great open dialog. There was on forum that caught my eye. It was entitled “What should the Education Software industry produce in terms of innovations to meet your needs as a teacher?” In the paragraph describing this question, the author Thomas Whitby, explained that Software Information Industry Association has posted a survey for teachers to fill out in which they can tell the company what technological innovations they need to help better teach their classes. I thought that this sharing of information to a major company was awesome. Each teacher would have a voice and opinion on how to make education better from a major corporation’s start point.
Question 5) Overall i found my experiences with the various PLN networks to be very informative. I think it is a very good way for teachers all over the world to connect with each other, share ideas, suggest new ways of using technology, and simply being there for one another. I think that these pages will take a lot of time and attention to keep up, and for some teachers it might be too much. But if someone is dedicated to their work and interested in the thoughts and opinions of others as well as being part of a larger community dedicated to a higher standard of education for our children, then the time is worth it. Some of the sites can be confusing, and there is no doubt that frustrations can arise (I became frustrated trying to use the highlight feature provided by Diigo for example). But through online forums I believe that voicing a struggle will provide that teacher with a community of teachers that can help them through it, calm their frustrations, and ultimately help them use the online tool better. In conclusion I do believe that using a PLN will help me as a teacher. I think the way in which it will help me the most is simply being connected to other people that have similar interests and current experiences that i do. I think that if we can all work together, share ideas, brainstorm, and receive credible feedback that our level of education provided will rise as well as our pure interest and eagerness to continue doing what we do. We are teachers because we care, and connecting with those who have a similar interest can be nothing but positive.