Looking Ahead

This summer semester has been a rollercoaster ride exploring social media and the variety of ways Web 2.0 tools can foster learning. Before this course began, I would have argued that I was relatively well versed in social media tools. Upon reflection 6 – 7 weeks later, I can easily say that I was wrong. At the end of any course, I like to think about what information I will take with my to embed in professional and personal endeavors – ideally I come out of a class with 3 goals for moving forward. Here are my plans for utilizing the information and techniques I have learned about in EdTech 543.

  1. Twitter Chats: By far the Twitter Chats have been my favorite way of gathering information and professional development in this class. I learned so much and connected to an incredible amount of people in the short time we completed the PD unit in class. My favorite Twitter chats are set up on my Google Calendar so that I get notifications on my phone and email. While my (part time) teaching load in the fall will consist of four classes – in addition to doctoral courses and my full time job as an instructional coach, I am hopeful that I can attend at least one Twitter chat a month.
  2. Building a better SEO: The digital footprint unit really forced me to slow down and consider how I am professionally represented online. While I have had to consider aspects of this in other courses, this unit made me think through the big picture. I realized that I am professionally not where I want to be in terms of a digital footprint. My work is too localized and could help many others just like me lurking out on the internet. As such, my roadmap for a digital footprint is one I intend to follow through to the end. I still want to blog and research every Friday during my time in the office. I will also need to begin working on customizing my WordPress site to make it uniquely my own. The first step will be adding my domain name to the site. Over the course of the fall, I will begin sharing and publishing some of the presentations and resources I have built in the past through my blog, Slideshare, Pinterest, and Twitter.
  3. Digital Curation: I loved the digital curation unit. It’s something I was doing at work when building professional development. I just did not realize that the process had a name. This is something I am good at doing! However, I now know I need to do a better job of sharing it with others above and beyond those teachers who attend my trainings. My goal is to curate topics at least once a month. I am constantly saving and bookmarking resources every day in my spare time. Now, on Fridays, I will try to begin pulling those saved resources and put them to work in a public forum.

A last part of my final reflection for this course is to reflect upon my blogging performance. I am going to give myself 68 of 75 points. I feel that I did a really good job reflecting on the course materials, activities, and conversations each time we had a blog assignment. However, at times my posts were more rushed than they should have been. I also wanted to blog more above and beyond the requirements of the class, which I did not do this summer. Lastly, I should have done a better job reading through others thoughts on their blogs and left comments. Part of learning is considering the perspectives of others and I felt that my lack of initiative in that area resulted in a valuable missed opportunity to expand my horizons.

I have to say, I learned far more than I expected to when this course began in late June. Thank you all so much for the wonderful resources, activities, feedback, and conversations. Best of luck in the future! I hope we meet again – even if just on Twitter!

Advertisements

Social Media in History Classrooms

This week, we explored ways social media is being used by teachers with students in the classroom. Our challenge was to curate a set of resources that featured projects by which students explored and created content through social media. This proved quite challenging as many resources available online were how to articles or suggestions rather than detailed accounts of classroom expeditions into the realm of social media. This leads me to believe that one of two factors have resulted in this lack of information. Either history teachers are not using social media with their students in the classroom or they are not documenting their experiences doing such activities. Both issues present challenges for teachers with a desire to attempt using social media.

Of the resources that are available online, I found that many shared several characteristics. Often, the teachers who choose to having students explore history using social media do so in highly innovative ways. Several have students explore prominent figures – modern or historical – using tools such as Facebook or Twitter. Others use these tools to extend their classroom walls globally. These teachers clearly are well versed in their content and comfortable with the practice of teaching. They undoubtedly keep up with educational trends and professional development. I would also guess that they are not afraid of a challenging project.

When used effectively, these projects allow students to go beyond the content to explore the potential of social media from a professional perspective.  One project has students edit Wikipedia articles and monitor the changes on the articles over a period of time. Another teacher asked students to reach out to world leaders via Twitter and request class interviews conducted via Skype. Not only do these students learn how to effectively and appropriately use the social media tools, but often the process becomes transformative revealing their great potential to share and connect across vast distances.

Most of the resources shared in this curated set are things that I would be willing to try myself as a teacher of history online. I am most intrigued by the assignment to have students edit and monitor a Wikipedia entry and am considering having students complete an assignment doing so in my Texas History course this coming fall. As an instructional coach, I am already planning on recommending the historical figure and timeline Facebook activities to several of our US History teachers as a way to help students better understand the people included in our standards.

After all of this reflecting, I hope you are ready to see my curated set on Social Media Projects in the History Classroom. I would love to hear your thoughts on the curation via the comments below. Also, if you know of any great history projects using social media, share the story or links in the comments as well. Thanks, in advance, for reading!

Building a Social Media Policy

This week, we have been exploring examples of social media use in classrooms. As a teacher, it is often easy to remain focused on the instructional facets of implementing social media into the classroom activities. However, doing so without considering expectations and etiquette can create a potentially explosive environment for yourself as well as students. Often students have not had guidance or instruction on ways to use social media tools for learning or professional endeavors. As such, they may not have a concept of the etiquette expected for such activity. Teaching students to use social media tools appropriately and effectively has become a responsibility of educators in addition to the content being taught.

This past spring (2015) I taught a Texas History course where students wrote weekly journal entries about the content we were learning. They were asked to create a character who would time travel throughout Texas History, documenting their experiences along the way. A few students (with my permission) had an idea to create Facebook pages for their time traveling characters. I had been wanting to find a way to implement social media in my classes for some time but could not come up with a good idea. Having an idea fall into my lap from the ingenuity of students was a wonderful surprise. I plan on adjusting the assignment this fall to include social media options like Facebook, WordPress\Blogger, or Tumblr. As such, I will need to develop a class social media policy and felt as though this assignment would be a great opportunity to get a head start on the process. Here is a brief explanation of the steps I took to do so:

Step One: Institutional Policies

It seemed like a good idea to begin this process by determining whether or not my institutions have existing policies on social media usage. A brief Google search for all three institutions I work at revealed that there are no guidelines currently in place. They do all have acceptable use policies and a student handbook in place. Consequently, I know that my policies must not violate these policies. It might be a good idea to reference the institutional policy in my own classroom guidelines for student awareness.

Step Two: Review Other’s Social Media Policies

Since my schools did not have specific social media policies, I thought it would be prudent to see what other institutions had adopted. I could not find many examples of individual classroom policies, likely because of the blocking of social media by administration, as mentioned in our course materials. So, I relied on a mixture of institutional policies and advice\help articles for guidance. Below is a listing of the sites I perused for inspiration:

Step Three: Develop Policies

Once I had a good idea of what policy various schools had enacted, it was pretty easy to develop my own policies. I broke the document into thematic groups and arranged the policies in a question and answer format. If a particular policy had lots of detail, I arranged the information in bullet point format.

Step Four: Get Feedback from Peers

I am going to get feedback from my PLN in this course, but I may also show it to some of my colleagues as well as a few other professors. This will ensure that I have not forgotten to add anything that might prove detrimental mid-semester. I will make changes before the semester begins based on feedback I’ve received here.

Step Five: Get Feedback from Students

During the first week of class, I plan on showing students these guidelines and asking them to provide feedback via a discussion forum in our course (Canvas). Overall, I want to ensure that they understand the expectations set forth and clarify any areas of confusion they may have. They can also email me with specific questions or concerns as well. Once I’ve read through the feedback from students.

Step Six: Review and Update

This stage is one that will occur each semester that I use these social media policies. They will need to change over time as the technology used evolves and student needs or issues arise. I will continue to do the student feedback process each semester in addition to my own review of the policies each semester.

My Policies

Without further adieu, here are the social media policies I have created for my class:

Summer Professional Development – The Digital Version

Summer Time

Over the past two weeks, I have been exploring the digital means of formal and informal professional development available to educators online. There’s something quite comforting, as a teacher, to be able to sit in front of my computer from the comfort of my own home and begin planning for the next school year. In the summer, it certainly beats getting dressed and sitting in a formal training for 6-8 hours! I completed 4 webinars and 4 Twitter chats in two weeks which is more PD than I typically get in a month during the school year. Here’s what I attended:

Twitter Chats

  • #edtechchat (7/13 and 7/20)
  • #sstlap (7/16)
  • #txed (7/22)

Webinars

  • Empowering Digital Citizens: Embracing Social Media in Schools,
  • Implications and Applications of the Latest Brain Research for Learners and Teachers, ASCD
  • Coaching: 7 Keys to Transform Practice, 30 Goals Conference
  • Blogging with Blogger: Everything You Need to Know to Make an Awesome Blog, Richard Byrne\Simple K12

My Thoughts on Digital PD

As a preface to this reflection, I used to present approximately 10-20 webinars each school year in my old job. I had a distinct presentation style and practices, both of which resulted from lots of practice and research. As such, my experiences as a webinar presenter consistently affects my experiences as a webinar participant. However, I had no prior experience with Twitter chats, and was quite nervous about participating in one! Overall, I felt that I gained more from the Twitter chats than I did from the webinars. This may simply be due to the level of choice and interaction available during a Twitter chat versus the more focused, structured format of a webinar.

The Twitter Chats

Planning Convo Resonate

These were, by far, my favorite real time PD sessions. Not only did I learn about new resources and ideas, but I also found unexpected opportunities to reflect as well as numerous new friends to follow on Twitter. Each chat had a different style and atmosphere, which is not immediately apparent to the chat novice. Larger Twitter chats were often difficult to keep up with due to the sheer amount of tweets coming through. Alternatively, some of the smaller Twitter chats developed more organically and the Q&A format often existed as a refocus or suggestion, depending upon the course of conversation.

The #edtechchats were often likened to that of drinking from a firehose. This was the largest Twitter chat I participated in and I was amazed by the sheer amount of information being shared. Because it was so often difficult to keep up with everything being said, I would often look for something that resonated with me and then respond to it. Many of my tweets during the #edtechchats were conversation responses or answers to questions. Of anything, I found this chat to be an opportunity to reflect on my practices and apply the results to the future. Just by simply talking to other leaders about getting teachers involved in Twitter, I began thinking about how I could do the same for my teachers.

Both the #sstlap and #txed chats were a bit different and less structured due to the small group of participants. The #sstlap chat was geared towards innovative collaborations among participants. I found a 6th grade teacher in Minnesota that wants to collaborate with some of my 7th grade teachers. Both social studies courses focus on state history. We thought it could be really cool to have the students compare the different experiences in their respective states around a major event or issue, such as the Civil War or Great Depression. I also found lots of resources and ideas about iBooks, apps, and cool history YouTube videos.

The #txed chat is supposed to be for Texas educators. However, we did have a few Canadians, which was cool! The participants ranged from teachers to principals and superintendents. We have a really casual conversation about collaboration. I met a principal that whose district had figured out a way to have routine early release days for student in order to allow for more planning and collaboration time for teachers! I plan on getting in touch with him during the school year to find out the logistics of this strategy in hopes that my own district can implement something similar. Aside from making new connections with this Twitter chat, I also found out about a new site called Staffrm which is a collaborative space geared towards educators. I think a few of us are going to try to learn how to use it to connect & share!

Last week, I had tried to participate in the #tlap chat only to get distracted by work a few moments after the chat had started. By the time I got off the phone with my director, the chat had almost ended. Distractions will often arise during Twitter chats, and the informal nature of these sessions makes it easy to step away from the computer.

The Webinars

The webinars, as mentioned previously, took on an entirely different tone than the organized chaos of the Twitter chats. Many of the participants did not seem interested in the backchannel, and several of us were even chastised by another participant for using the chat (on task) during one particular webinar. I often found that the descriptions did not match with the actual presentation, which I found frustrating.

webinar tweet

However, I still found a number of great resources and ideas throughout the webinars. The Digital Citizenship session focusing on social media was by far my favorite webinar of the four. The presenters were authentic and shared ideas that related directly to practice. The content being shared by the two principals leading the webinar was so inspiring that I found myself taking numerous screenshots & tweeting them out just so I would remember the main points later. They also inspired me to ask lots of questions, several of which were answered. While I am not a principal, I found many of their ideas on teaching digital citizenship important, especially for the citizenship strand of our social studies curriculum.

The ASCD webinar on Brain Based Research went by quickly and I found it difficult to latch on to what the presenters were trying to convey in a way that might inform my practice. The presenters did seem quite knowledgeable and the presentation was linked to a book they had written. I think that reading the book may provide the information I was looking for in the webinar. So, at least I learned about the connection to the book through the webinar. Throughout the webinar, I tried to participate in the conversation in the chat and help make connections with the content. However, it was quite the tough crowd in terms of the back channel.

The coaching webinar was short but it was nice to have an opportunity to talk with other coaches. The presenter also shared a number of really cool apps and tools to use in the technology-based classroom which I appreciated. I was able to ask some questions (and get an answer) about how Chris (the presenter) encouraged teachers to work with him. This gave me some ideas about how to encourage teachers to request coaching in their social studies classrooms next year.

I had been hoping that the Blogger webinar would feature some advice on blogging, but it turned out to be more of a how – to focusing on navigating the logistics of the tool. The contents of the webinar were great, but it wasn’t quite what I had been looking for. However, there were a ton of resources that were shared which I tweeted out (image below).

SK12 Tweets 2

What I Learned

1. Informal learning can be as powerful, or even more so, than traditional means. I gained far more in terms of resources and connections during the Twitter chats than in the webinars. I even found myself tweeting information during the webinars to those following the various hashtags I’d participated in.

2. Webinars must be purposeful to be powerful. Webinars are wonderful sources of PD if the subject matter meets the needs of a participant directly. I feel that it is best to share information but also practical advice for implementation or use. All of the webinars attended shared some kind of resource, which was extremely helpful from my perspective.  The ability to record and archive webinars is also a powerful feature. However,

3. Reflection is often as valuable as a shared resource. In the midst of our work, it is difficult to find time for reflection. As the school year progresses and the to do list lengthens, reflection may become less frequent. However, it is a vital element for professional growth. Online, real time pd offers opportunities for reflection in short snippets of time, often when needed the most. Even if a session or chat does not produce many resources or practical strategies, there should at least be an opportunity to reflect.

A DIY Approach to Learning: The Personal Learning Environment

Megan's PLE Diagram
Megan’s PLE Diagram

This week, we were asked to create diagram illustrating our own personal learning environments (PLE). What seemed like a pretty straightforward assignment became complicated quickly. As I began to mull over the course materials and conduct research of my own, it was immediately apparent that the term PLE had a variety of connotations among both educational technology researchers as well as thought leaders and bloggers online. A few writers described the PLE as the physical place where a learner’s tools and resources were held or stored together – many referring to the now extinct iGoogle as a platform for PLEs. Some use the term PLE and the personal learning network (PLN) interchangeably whereas others argued that the PLN and PLE were different entities but could never quite lead readers to a clear distinction between the two. The muddled distinction between the PLE and the PLN only served to further complicate the issue.

Creating My PLE Diagram

Taking advice from this article’s approach, which described the organic development of a PLE, I considered the way I work to locate knowledge and ideas professionally and personally. I tried to combine tools and processes I used before beginning the EdTech 543 course and those learned in class and intend to keep. My diagram is organized in four quadrants which each represent different behaviors I exhibit during my learning process or cycle. The first phase, being research or knowledge gathering, features the most tools since I prefer lots of variety when perusing the internet for ideas. As I move through the learning process towards creation the tools used begin to dwindle revealing my focused intention to utilize specific tools for certain purposes.

Comparing PLE Diagrams

When comparing my PLE diagram to others diagrams in class, I discovered a number of similarities and differences. All of us seemed to break our tools down into groups. Of the six I analyzed, five categorized the tools by function, similar to my own PLE diagram. One of the six actually organized the tools by content type which was quite different from mine. As expected, many of us use similar social media tools, including Twitter, Facebook, Google +, YouTube, or Pinterest as common themes. Three of the six chose to diagram the process of working (as stages or phases) within their PLEs as I did. However, others highlighted non-process connections or relationships between their PLE components by using arrows or a venn diagram. All diagrams conveyed information in their PLE diagram in one of three ways: 1) the diagrams featured just tools, 2) tools and content resources, and 3) tools, content, and organizational resources.

This comparison made me realize that most of us focused on digital tools despite the traditional, face to face knowledge networks we undoubtedly have access to in our daily lives. This prompts the question – are PLEs merely digital or a blend of digital and traditional?  I also realized that I had not defined a distinction between my PLE and PLN, which points to the possibility that I still have yet to reconcile the differences between the two concepts in my own work. If I had more time, I’d likely have to add to my existing diagram. There are lots of communities, both digital, face to face, and professional, that I rely on heavily in my work which are missing from my diagram. Through this analysis process, I do think that I have identified an underlying process for knowledge discovery and sharing that will not change, even if the tools and communities I belong to do evolve over time.

My classmate’s PLE diagrams

Rob Johnson’s PLE

Nick Urban’s PLE

Cinnamon Johnsrud’s PLE

Darin Gray’s PLE

Megan Poindexter’s PLE

Cassie Davenport’s PLE

Creating a Curation Checklist

This past week, our PLNs were tasked with creating a checklist to evaluate the digital curation projects. Largely, this process was to help differentiate between the collection and curation of resources. Each member of my PLN did our research separately in the first part of the week, which consisted of reading various blogs and articles dedicated to the task of curation. Many of these were provided in our Module 3 resources in class. Researching separately proved extremely beneficial as we all had different ideas to bring to the project when it came down to creating our checklist.

I am honestly not a huge fan of group projects, especially in online courses. As a teacher, I’ve had numerous disasters with online group assignments. As a student who is rather meticulous about my work, it is always a bit unnerving having to rely on other people to complete coursework. There is much evidence, however, that group projects in online courses are beneficial to students and to the development of presence. That being said, most of my group projects in my doctoral classes have actually gone really well because we are all meticulous about our work. My experiences in EdTech 543 with Nick and Rob were no different. If anything, the process working with my PLN was smoother than past group projects.

We created our curation checklist in Google Drive, which Nick so kindly set up for us. He also kickstarted the checklist with a number of requirements he had considered relevant and important to the task of curation based on his research. Without planning in advance, Rob and I ended up editing the curation checklist at the same time the next day! It was really cool to work together and watch the checklist rapidly fill out towards completion. At one point, Rob and I even chatted about the direction of the checklist. I definitely had the feeling of social presence when we worked on this project. Rob and Nick seemed more like real people because we were actively interacting together. As I mentioned previously, the fact that we had researched independently brought great depth to our checklist. We all had different expectations and ideas that contributed to a well-rounded product. There were ideas that both Rob and Nick added to the document that I would have never considered if I had merely worked alone. That observation alone is enough to help transform my perspectives on group projects. If given the chance again, I would undoubtedly work with both Rob and Nick in another course!

After all of that reflection, please take a look at our curated checklist:

Twitter as a Professional Development Tool

5 Twitter Hashtags

This week, our class explored the world of Twitter as a tool for professional development. The first objective was to select five hashtags to follow for the week and then to track what we had learned as a consequence. I chose hashtags that best related to my professional roles and interests including #sschat, #edtech, #edleadership, #educoach, and #historyteacher. After a week of following these hashtags, I wanted to recount four connections I made through the process.

1. Follow Experts – This week, in the #sschat feed, I realized that two of my favorite social studies leaders were mentioned – Sam Wineburg and Peter Pappas. Somehow, I was not following them despite owning all of their books and using their instructional materials in my work and courses! Searching these guys out to follow just never occurred to me in all the time I have frequented Twitter. So, lesson #1 is to be on the lookout for experts and quality Tweeters via these hashtags. Building a quality pool of talented professionals to follow is crucial to ensuring Twitter remains a useful tool.

2. Curation System – I found some of the coolest primary sources (original documents) in the #sschat and #historyteacher hashtags this week. One set featured Battle of Gettysburg depictions made by Alfred Waud, a man who witnessed the battle. The others are World War II pictures overlaid on modern day images. The combination is downright bone chilling. Each time I view these images, I get goosebumps. Yes, they are that powerful!

So, in a few nights, I found some pretty amazing stuff that I can embed directly into my online history courses. I retweeted each resource and then realized this alone might not be enough to preserve these images for future use. After all, I have 400+ tweets, many of which are likely retweets. This led me to develop a retweet curation strategy. I installed the Pinterest button for Google Chrome, which will allow me to store useful resources on any of my Pinterest boards with relative ease. Any time I begin to look for ideas,  I generally begin with Pinterest, so this is a good workflow for me. If  I am on my phone or busy throughout the day, I will go ahead and retweet. Then, at the end of the day, I can curate my tweets and save the information worth keeping.

3. Retweets & Favorites Are Important Tweets Too – Sometimes retweets are as good or better than an original tweet. First and foremost, you are sharing ideas you find relevant with others. Secondly, you never know when a retweet might result in a new connection. The other night, I noticed a tweet featuring an social media management app I might have interest in (called Buffer) in the #edtech feed. So, I favorited the tweet. A few moments later, the author of the tweet followed me. When I went to check her profile, I realized that she was also a doctoral student in Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University. I quickly refollowed her. This served as an important reminder that the people who tweet the ideas are just as vital as the tweets themselves. If an idea is particularly intriguing, it might not be a bad idea to check out the person who tweeted to see if they will fit in with your network.

4. Schedule It – I noticed throughout the week that I wasn’t monitoring these feeds as frequently as I should have. This might be a reason for my continued pattern of using and dropping Twitter. Yes, I have a chronic consistency problem with Twitter. Several times this week, I would be sitting in bed about an hour away from lights out only to realize that I had not checked my hashtags. So, I would pull out my phone, browse each hashtag, favorite\retweet what I liked, and follow anyone who seemed interesting.

This led me to the realization that I need a Twitter schedule as well as a process for reviewing content on my phone versus computer. First of all, I am going to have to schedule reminders to check Twitter at different points throughout the day. I will be setting reminders on my Google Calendar to see what time frame works best. I think I may have a lunchtime, midday, and after dinner check in. I have actually scheduled Twitter chats on my Google Calendar, since I continue to forget to participate. I should know Monday whether or not this strategy will work.

I really like the idea of following multiple hashtags routinely, and if I am on my laptop, Tweetdeck works beautifully. However, I have yet to find a similar application that will work for Twitter on my iPad and iPhone. If anyone had a recommendation, I would love to hear it!

Final Thoughts

I would love to continue using Twitter for professional development and resources. However, if this process is to persist beyond summer, I know structures must be in place to make Twitter a part of my daily schedule or any endeavor will fail. Working the kinks out this summer will be a key component of whether or not I continue using Twitter on a daily basis throughout the next school year.

Managing My Digital Footprint: A Plan

Based on the results of my digital footprint analysis in the last post, I felt as though most of my assets were positive. However, there were too few assets to accurately describe who I am professionally. So, my three main objectives were to enhance the positive assets I do have, create new ones to highlight my expertise, and link all of them together (Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012; McGinnis, 2012). I have structured my digital footprint plan into three phases shown in this infographic below: foundation work, making connections, and creating\sharing information and materials. 
Digital Footprint Plan_543


Step One: Laying the Foundation

In this step, I intend on doing the work recommended by McGinnis (2012) directly following the analysis of my existing digital footprint. Most of these endeavors consist of enhancing existing profiles and creating new ones to fill out my professional image. Below is a description of the three steps.

1. Purchase a domain name – I am happy to say that I have already purchased megangooding.com and intend to link it to my WordPress account (more on that in a moment). Purchasing your own domain name is a good practice to help direct traffic to a central place with my professional image. Up until this point, I have not had this. (Kujawski, 2012; Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012; Taub, 2012).

2. Create a Slideshare account – This is a pretty specific step, however, it will come to represent a large body of my past professional work. I spent the prior four years working at a state agency as an educational consultant creating professional development. I have numerous professional development presentations I can share via Slideshare. This will help to exhibit what I know and am able to do professionally (Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012; McGinnis, 2012).

3. Create or Enhance Social Media Accounts – None of my personal accounts, aside from Twitter and YouTube, emerged in my digital footprint study despite having numerous accounts. This means that my Google+, Facebook, and Pinterest accounts must be enhanced. My privacy settings on my personal Facebook account appear to be working and I haven’t decided whether or not I will use that account or my Boise State account for professional purposes. Similarly, I have two Google+ accounts and must choose one (either personal or Boise State) to enhance and develop. I do have a personal Pinterest account that I want to use. I just need to make a few boards private before sharing the account professionally (Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012; McGinnis, 2012).


Step Two: Making Connections

4. Update & Connect on LinkedIn – While I do have a LinkedIn account, I have not actually done much with it. A few weeks ago, my husband was laid off from his job. I helped him update his LinkedIn profile prior to applying for jobs. Immediately, I noticed all of the elements you could add to one profile – which surprised me. I realized that my husband uses his LinkedIn account much like a professional Facebook and that I was missing out by not making better use of my own profile. My intentions in this step are twofold. First, I want to fill out my existing profile by adding courses, awards, links to and\or actual professional artifacts, etc. to enhance my account. Secondly, I would like to connect with more professionals that I know, including people I am meeting through the doctoral program at Boise State. (Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012; McGinnis, 2012; Posner, Varner, & Croxall, 2011).

5. Create a Dominant Channel – Several authors discussed the need to create a central hub or dominant channel to direct professional inquiries and interest. I decided to do this with my WordPress account because of its flexibility. I can easily update my account with the new domain name and create several blogs as well as a homepage\biographical section. All of my social media accounts will be linked to the site and I am hoping to find a way to crosspost from WordPress to these accounts. Essentially, it is my plan to use WordPress as my professional website (Kujawski, 2012; Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012) .

6. Link Social Media Accounts – My plan is to connect all of my major social media accounts (Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Academia.edu) with the WordPress site as well as with each other when possible. I also would like to create a method or process for cross-posting resources, whether personally created or curated. (Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012; McGinnis, 2012).


Step Three: Create & Share

7 & 8. Create & Maintain Blogs – I basically have two professional identities because I work three jobs. My full time job is as an educational consultant\instructional coach. Currently, this position is focused on social studies, but I have done instructional technology in the past. My other two jobs are as an Adjunct Instructor of History at the college level. My unique value proposition aligns with both of these positions – to find a way to help history teachers harness digital technologies and to help all online teachers improve instruction through design. As such, I want to create blogs for each interest. I plan to use the social studies blog as a way to share and highlight ideas that we are working on in my district. My second blog will feature strategies I use in my own classroom as well as information I come across as I research. Both may include reflections as well. From time to time, I may crosspost on each blog as the situation fits. I plan to blog weekly at minimum. (Kujawski, 2012; Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012; Taub, 2012)

9. Share Professional Work – As mentioned previously, I have lots of professional presentations, resources, lesson plans, and now academic papers to share online. I plan to upload the resources and lesson plans to my blog and sharing them on social media as free downloads. I intend to post the academic works I have written in the past, such as my master’s thesis, as well the papers I write in the doctoral program on Academia.edu (Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012; Posner et al., 2012)

10. Create a Google Alert – Several of the authors recommended creating a Google Alert with your own name to track any information being shared about yourself. I intend on creating one and will have it directed to my personal gmail account (Kujawski, 2012; Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012; Posner et al., 2011).


References

Kujawski, M. (2012). Tools and tips for managing your personal digital footprint [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/mikekujawski/tools-and-tips-for-managing-your-personal-digital-footprint

Lowenthal, P., & Dunlap, J. (2012, June). Intentional web presence: 10 SEO strategies every academic needs to know. Educause Review. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/intentional-web-presence-10-seo-strategies-every-academic-needs-know

McGinnis, S. (2012, August 23). Online reputation management: A how-to guide [web log post]. Retrieved from http://spinsucks.com/communication/online-reputation-management-a-how-to-guide/

Posner, M., Varner, S., Croxall, B. (2011, February 14). Creating your web presence: A primer for academics [web log post]. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/creating-your-web-presence-a-primer-for-academics/30458

Taub, A. (2012, June). 5 key things needed to improve your digital identity. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/alextaub/2012/06/07/5-key-things-needed-to-improve-your-digital-identity/

Discovering My Digital Footprint

Living in a digital world has clear benefits.


Just last month, a colleague of mine installed concrete countertops in her kitchen with her mother in two days. Two days?! She has little to no formal construction or remodeling experience, yet, they found a way to recreate this space with minimal time or money. The key? They watched several videos on YouTube that someone with experience posted and then followed those instructions. Not only did she have the satisfaction of transforming her 1970s-fabulous kitchen countertops into something sleek and modern, she had the satisfaction of having done it on her own.

So, I’ll say it again. Living in a digital world has clear benefits.

I can remember a time not very long ago where texting, Google, and iPhones did not exist. As a consequence, we lived and behaved differently 20-some years ago. These tools have transformed the way we find, use, and share information as well as the means by which we communicate with others. Our lives are completely different as a consequence. I like it this way. Personally, I enjoy being able to have directions to a place at any given point on my iPhone or texting my mom to share information quickly. Who doesn’t love Googling a topic to simply find out more about it?

While these technological advances have clear benefits, there are costs associated as well. One of these costs is the constant preservation of information available online. Once something becomes available online, it may never really go away. Numerous scandals, including the recent issues Paula Deen is experiencing on Twitter, provide constant reminders of this reality. The real question, at least for me, becomes one of costs versus benefits. At this point, I am willing to manage the downsides or costs of technology in order to enjoy the benefits. I don’t mind being careful about what I post or share on the internet. I also try to be cautious about what others share about me as well.

However, no matter how hard you try, there are bound to be negative things on the internet, especially if one does not take care to add positive items themselves. So, after reading this week’s resources concerning digital footprints, I decided to take Sean McGinnis’ recommended approach to determining an existing digital footprint. I searched 5 pages worth of Google results and looked at Google Images. This is what I found:


Megan’s Digital Footprint Results

1st Page of results

  • The 2nd link was my Twitter Account (Positive: I own this account and have lots of control)
  • The 3rd link was my LinkedIn Account (Positive: I own this account and have lots of control)
  • The 8th link was a Pinterest account from my old job (left last year) (Neutral – no longer have control of this account)
  • The 9th link was my YouTube account featuring videos I have added to channels for work (Positive: I own this account and have lots of control)

2nd page of results – nothing!

3rd page of results – nothing!

4th page of results

  • The 3rd link was a reference to my adjunct position at UTPB. (Neutral – just has my name, email address, and position. I have no control over this page.)
  • The 10th link was a Project Share page from my old job – left last year (Neutral – no longer have control of this page)

5th page of results

  • The 1st link was a training document I built in my old job for Project Share (Neutral – no longer have control over this document)

When I reviewed Google Images, I found two pictures of myself. One on the third row and another on the fifth row. Both were decent pictures that I commonly use for profiles and don’t provide any cause for concern. However, there were a few pictures of another Megan Gooding which featured semi-censored nudity. I would hate to think that someone would Google my name and assume that person is me.

Neither of my Facebook profiles (personal or Boise State), my Instagram account, my WordPress account, my Wix website, or my Google + accounts came up in a Google search. No personally identifying information appeared either. While these results are not necessarily bad, it is clear that I have work to do improving my search engine optimization for an improved professional presence. Nothing is more depressing for a doctoral student than to discover that there is relatively little professional information about oneself on the web.

Without question, I have work to do!

I am already planning to upgrade my digital footprint. Stay tuned!

Creative Expression of CoPS, PLNs, & Connectivism

When I began working on my nonlinguistic representations for this week, my focus remained on how these concepts worked together. How could they be compared and contrasted? How could their meanings, similarities, and differences be conveyed succinctly?

After a number of false starts (three to be exact), I began to think about how I might explain these ideas to my teachers next year. One thing I know about pitching a new idea to a teacher is that it should be brief, to the point, and focused on the benefit to their classrooms and students. What better way to sell an idea than a tiny advertisement – something like a postcard. Thus, my nonlinguistic representation came to fruition (finally!) These images were created with a design tool called Canva. You can create your own posters, book covers, album covers, and social media banners. You will notice, each postcard has the concept and a slogan summarizing the main benefit or purpose. There are a series of six images per postcard to convey the meaning behind each concept.

2

3

1

How do these concepts work together?

Part of my focus while exploring the various resources available in Module 1 was figuring out how each concept connected with the others. For better or worse, I feel as though these ideas work as a set of nesting bowls, each one a bit larger than the next. I see the PLN as the smallest unit of knowledge sharing since it is based on the individual and their learning interests (Lalande, 2012; Trust, 2012). The next largest unit is the CoP as it is based on a membership of interested shareholders working towards the same endeavor (Smith, 2010). Each CoP member brings their own PLN along with them resulting in a much larger set of networks and knowledge connections. Connectivism is the theory that consolidates all of the ideas. It is the framework or mechanism that describes the way in which networks function and knowledge is shared or acquired within a PLN or CoP.

As a means of showing these concepts are connected, I maintained the structure of each postcard. Likewise, there are images in each postcard that are similar to show the relationship. For example, both the PLN and connectivism postcards feature social media references. Likewise, the CoPs and connectivism postcard have images depicting groups of people.

The Molecular Analogy

You may have noticed that in each description, one of the images was omitted from discussion on each postcard. One of my original iterations of this project was a molecular analogy. There is an image at the bottom center of each postcard that relates to this topic. The PLN postcard features a depiction of an atom. The CoPs postcard shows a molecule and the connectivism postcard features a macromolecule (specifically DNA). Since the atom is the smallest unit of all three, I felt it best portrayed the PLN. The PLN is determined by each individual in terms of the connections made, tools used, and people or organizations included. A person is free to determine whether or not they will lurk or share within their PLN (Lanlande, 2012). A CoP is much larger than that of a PLN because it requires a group of people committed to the same problem or endeavor (Smith, 2010). Each molecule is made up of a series of atoms, much like a CoP which consists of group members and their respective PLNs. Connectivism describes something a bit different than the PLN or CoP. Connectivism deals with the new landscape of information and technological advances that characterize the modern world. Its focus is on the complexity of information and the means of networking to acquire and share information (Kop & Hill, 2008; Siemens, 2005). Thus, the macromolecule (DNA) seemed to be a good fit for the concept. DNA simultaneously represents a colossal collection of atoms and molecules (PLNs and CoPs) that share information via their connections. No one molecule or atom stands out as superior to the others, much like one individual can no longer exist as an expert as argued by Siemens (2005).

References

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 9(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/523/1103

Lalande, M. A. [DevPro PD Flipped ]. (October 18, 2012). What is a PLN? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLLpWqp-owo

M. K. Smith. (2010). Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://infed.org/mobi/jean-lave-etienne-wenger-and-communities-of-practice/

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, 2(1). Retrieved from http://itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm

Trust, T. (2012). Professional learning networks designed for teacher learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(4). Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ972454.pdf