Are You in?!

Connected educators are comfortable collaborating in person in team or subject groups; they are equally as good at connecting online. Whether it be Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, or Facebook, teachers are connecting via social media every day. Reaching out to fellow educators is just part of normal professional development and classroom connections.

 

It’s time to join this band of educators.

 

Today you’ll write your first post or send your first tweet. Today you’ll network with someone from another region, even if you don’t chat. Today you’ll realize that your professional connections just went global. Today marks the day when you jump into being a connected educator. Unnamed image (4)

 

Suggestions for your first couple of posts:

  • Pull quotes from a book you’re reading. Include the page number and explain why the quote impacted you.
  • Share content from other people. In Twitter, that means you “retweet”, and in Google+, that means you reshare the content. Surely you either follow a person or hashtag that is interesting, or perhaps you’ve joined a Google Community that has valuable content. Share good finds!
  • Share video content. After the link, be sure to explain the significance of the video from your perspective. Perhaps you’ll find a youtube or tedtalk video.
  • Ask questions. You don’t have to provide all of the answers! Lots of teachers turn to social media to gain insight. No question is too simple. Ask away!

 

These suggestions will help you progress. Don’t be surprised if you aren’t thrilled at first. It takes time to develop your PLN. Typically, teachers either don’t see the point or they’re over-stimulated. Both are understandable. I compare this experience to eating veggies from the garden. Yeah, they’re good for me, and if I snack too much, I end up with a belly ache. Everything, including social media, in moderation.

Enjoy this journey. Trust me. This is one you’ll remember.

Participate in the #MWGS Conference From Afar!

Midwest Google Summit

The Midwest Google Summit is the premier event for Google workshops. This year the conference sold out in five hours! Many people that wanted to attend, could not. Despite that bad news, teachers all over the globe will still be able to participate thanks to Twitter and Google+.

On Monday and/or Tuesday, visit twitter and search for the #mwgs hashtag. There you will find the top Google teachers in the Midwest talking everything Google. I promise you’ll 1.) find new people to follow, 2.) connect with amazing educators (Yeah, you should talk to them!), and 3.) pick up great ideas for Google integration that you will need!

#MWGS on Twitter

Midwest Google Summit on Google+

Here’s what you have to do for me:

  1. Jump on twitter during Monday or Tuesday during the day and search for the #mwgs hashtag. You’ll be flooded with chatter! Talk to people. Ask questions. Retweet awesome finds. Follow new people. Bookmark cool finds! Tweet discoveries to your followers using the hashtag #SOE2010, #SOEPDS, or #SOE4090.
  2. Make a stash of awesome stuff you find because of your participation. You could just send all of your great finds to Diigo, Pearltrees, or Pinterest.

When I return on Thursday, I’m going to have you share your findings. Your findings have to come from new people tweeting with the #mwgs hashtag. Trust me, you’ll find an amazing amount of information!

 

Your mind will be flooded with great ideas. 🙂

Google Hangout Provides Options

Teaching has always been rewarding, but I have to admit that my current teaching opportunity is the most inspiring. The inspiration doesn’t come from the material or my teaching; it’s from working with the students.

My students come to campus wearing many hats. Very few of them are just students. Most are working parents or returning adults looking for a new career. When they leave my class they head to work or school to pick up their children. It is inspiring seeing people push themselves to live better.

This semester is no different. One of my students, Crystal, was due with a baby right in the middle of the semester. When she gave birth we were just starting a project exploring digital communication tools used in business or the home. I assigned her to understand how she could use Pinterest for professional gain or how businesses use that tool today. It was important to me to prepare for Crystal’s absence, but yet allow her the time to spend with her new baby, so I had to think of a digital conferencing tool.

I decided to experiment with Google Hangouts. I’ve participated in them before, so I wasn’t nervous, but I’ve never initiated one. Plus, Crystal was scheduled to give her presentation on Pinterest on the first day. How could she present a power point and web tool from her location?!

Class started with me starting the hangout and Crystal joined shortly thereafter. The class in the room was very curious to see Crystal and her new baby. As you can see, they are both very happy. We quickly learned how to activate the microphone and use the chatroom.

Crystal presented first. I didn’t know if I could somehow give her control of the hangout, so I had her email me her power point. I advanced the slides when she told me. I’m certain that’s the hard way to do it, but it worked for that moment. Crystal handled the presentation just fine, as if she were right in front of us. She rolled through every hurdle with no problem, all while holding her son.

When she was finished, we left the cam on so she could watch her classmates’ presentations. I still have to learn an easier way to share the desktop. I had to share it every time the presenter needed to toggle between programs like Power Point and Chrome. Again, I’m sure there’s a way around that.

My class is Crystal’s only class on Friday, so I’ve decided to run a Google Hangout for her every Friday until she wants to return. She still attends our other block earlier in the week, but on Friday, she would have to drop her little man off with a sitter for just my class. I figure if we can get through a day of presentations using Hangout, then we can do anything virtually.

It helps her take care of her child and still remain in the class. I am able to distribute handouts to her via Blackboard or even in Google Hangout. She can ask her classmates questions and she can even team up on assignments using Googledocs. I like knowing that there are free tools out there to help our students further their education, regardless of how many hats they’re wearing.

If you haven’t played with Google Hangout, you should. It’s awesome.

Twitter Will Fade…

I can’t believe I just wrote that.  After a two year love affair with Twitter, I’m fairly sure that one day it will fade off into the sunset for me. That day is drawing near thanks to Google +.

As of today I am  attempting to regularly juggle three social networks — Facebook for personal life, Twitter for professional life, and Google plus as experimental tool. I am dropping a ball or two every day, and it’s consistently been one ball — Twitter.

A few years ago I discovered Twitter and fell in love. It is the best tool for connecting to others and sharing information. At any given second I can reach out to others. I have given workshops and talks about the necessity of using Twitter professionally.

And then Google Plus came along. Most of the people I follow on Twitter are making the transfer to Google Plus. I am finding that they are posting much of the same material on Google Plus, but with more commentary. Others are commenting back — it flows more like a discussion instead of the quips that Twitter allows.

I feel terrible not checking Twitter each morning, but honestly I can’t read all three every day. I’ll even say this — Facebook will feel the pinch too. It will take longer for people to move as the general population does not enjoy experimenting with new technologies. Eventually though, it will happen…Google Plus will probably be the one location for almost all of your social networking.

If you’re not there yet, you should be and you’ll eventually see why.