#Twitterati Challenge – my top five!

I was honoured to be named in company with @cybraryman1 @gtchatmod @GiftedHF @murcha as one of @jofrei ‘s top five “Go to” Educators in the #TwitteratiChallenge. All of @jofrei‘s other top five and @jofrei herself have been part of my PLN for over five years.

I don’t usually do these sorts of “round robin” things but on this occasion I accept the #TwitteratiChallenge and will name my top five “Go to” Educators – the rules prevent me including any of the educators  named by @jofrei, or indeed Jo herself!

The conditions of the challenge are posted on Mary Myatt’s blog at

http://marymyatt.com/blog/2015-05-03/the-twitterati-challenge

Here they are:

Started by by Ross (never known to nap) @TeacherToolkit – “In the spirit of social-media-educator friendships, this summer it is time to recognise your most supportive colleagues in a simple blogpost shout-out. Whatever your reason, these 5 educators should be your 5 go-to people in times of challenge and critique, or for verification and support”

There are only 3 rules.

  1. You cannot knowingly include someone you work with in real life.
    2. You cannot list somebody that has already been named if you are already made aware of them being listed on#TwitteratiChallenge.
    3. You will need to copy and paste the title of this blogpost and (the rules and what to do) information into your own blog post.
    What to do?
    This what to do:
    1. Within 7 days of being nominated by somebody else, you need to identify colleagues that you rely regularly go-to for support and challenge. They have now been challenged and must act and must act as participants of the #TwitteratiChallenge.
  2. If you’ve been nominated, please write your own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost within 7 days. If you do not have your own blog, try @staffrm.
    5. The educator that is now (newly) nominated, has 7 days to compose their own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost and identify who their top 5 go-to educators are.

So here are my choices in no particular order – because no way could I choose a “top of the list” person:

@suewaters Sue was my PLN mentor when  first started to dip a toe in the water of PLNs back in 2008, she is so often my first “port of call” when something online doesn’t make sense, as well as being my edublogs saviour when I have problems with my blog. We do live in the same state (WA) of Australia and do know one another “for real” and not just virtually but we don’t work together so I hope this is OK.

@shellterrell Shelly (based in the US) has been part of my PLN almost as long as Sue! She came to some of our early webinars and also presented several. I participated in some of the early #Edchats the twitter #chats initiated originally by Shelly and a couple of others so Shelly has been a long time colleague and I am so excited that I will be meeting her in real life when she visits Australia in early June  – I only wish she could bring #RoscoThePug with her!

@mgraffin Another WA tweep – we communicated extensively online before we met “for real”. Michael has been in my PLN since about 2010 and has been a real as well a a virtual friend for almost as long. As in Sue’s case we don’t work together Michael is in the school sector.

@penpln Penny is based in Victoria, Australia and has been part of my PLN since around 2010 both on Twitter and Facebook especially through the FacingIT group on Facebook. We have so many interests in common including teaching science and photography.

@poulingail Gail is a Kindy teacher from the USA and  has been part of my PLN since around 2010. We got to know each other very well because Gail was a regular participant in our Edublogs Serendipity FineFocus webinars. Gail shares so many great things!

So these are my top five – this was really hard! My PLN is one of the very best things that has ever happened to me.

 

 

 

Social media for professional development and networking

Introduction

A post for my colleagues who are beginning to consider social media for professional development.

The associated presentation is available on Slideshare

We all have some sort of Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN). In the past this was based around people that we met face-to-face or communicated with by phone or letter. However the growth in online communication and social media has given rise to an immense expansion in the potential for learning through networks.

Personal/Professional Learning Networks

I have a large global network of educators across all sectors with whom I “chat” frequently and acquire links to many excellent resources, websites and articles. The main networks that I use are Twitter and Facebook, but I also use our statewide Adult Literacy and Numeracy Network (a Google Group), Google+, LinkedIn, social bookmarking and web conferencing. These “platforms” constitute my own Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

Much has been written about PLNs and how to develop your own PLN, this can only be a guide! Every PLN is different because it reflects the interests and personality of its “owner” and because the balance of platforms forming the PLE will vary.

PLN

One of the best ways to get started is through someone who already uses one or more of these platforms, who will act as your mentor. Both Twitter and Facebook are good platforms to start with – Twitter has the advantage of brevity, and Facebook the advantage of familiarity for many people. I usually recommend that people use both – they are both relatively easy to manage and it is also possible using one of the available clients to cross-post (this means post the same post on both platforms at the same time).

LinkedIn is a little different from other platforms in that it has more of a job/workplace focus. Many people who use it do so for the purpose of career development rather than professional learning.

Be careful about where and what personal information you share. Keep your home address, mobile and home phone number, private email, and anything similar out of comments and posts.

If you are new to PLN/PLE you can find getting started information in:

 Conclusion

This post and those about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are intended to help you get started. The next step will be actively participating in those networks.

If you have any questions please use the comments on this or one of the other posts to ask them and I will do my best to reply.

LinkedIn for professional learning

Introduction

LinkedIn is a little different from other platforms in that it has more of a job/workplace focus. Many people who use it do so for the purpose of career development rather than professional learning. However there is still potential for joining special interest groups and taking part in the discussions and also for making connections with others in the same field.

Getting started

1. Go to the LinkedIn joining page and join up. Because of the focus of LinkedIn there is little point in using a pseudonym.

2. Once you have signed up it is almost essential to complete at least part of your profile including an image and some career information. Again because of the nature of LinkedIn it is best to use accurate information and a photo for your avatar.

3. Now it’s time to start making connections. LinkedIn will make suggestions and if you have included a profession, a workplace or a school/university in your profile then others with similar interests are likely to be suggested. There are educators from all over the world on LinkedIn. You can tap into ideas and conversations from all sectors however there are several groups related to the VET/Adult Ed. sector in Australia.

4. Use the Search within LinkedIn to find people you may know and Groups that may be of interest for you.

Conclusion

This is a very basic post for getting started with LinkedIn. If you have any questions then please use the comments on this post to ask them and I will try to help.

Twitter for professional development/networking

Introduction

Twitter is a social networking/microblogging platform. The main difference between Twitter and other platforms is that posts may only be 140 characters long – and no, this doesn’t restrict conversations! Twitter is great for quick updates – and yes we do sometimes mention food! Just as we might ask “How was lunch?” when a colleague returns past our desk. As with all networking the “social” interaction “oils the wheels” of the professional relationship. So how do you get started with Twitter as a professional development and networking tool?

Getting started

1. Go to the Twitter website and sign up.

Twitter2 500px

This includes creating a “username”. Ideally your username should be fairly short and should identify you – your name or a variant on it usually works well (my own Twitter name or “handle” is “@JoHart”).

2. Once you have signed up it is important to add an image (avatar) and complete your biography (bio). These will influence people to “follow you” or not. Twitter only gives you 140 characters for your bio so make every word count! If you want an example visit my Twitter page. There is much discussion about what is appropriate in terms of images. If you are using Twitter largely for PD then a photo is probably best, alternatively a cartoon image that you can create with a tool such as Mangatar.

3. Now it’s time to start following people and posting! There is no rush to build a huge list of followers, take your time – there are educators from all over the world on Twitter. You can tap into ideas and conversations from all sectors not just VET/Adult Ed.

4. If you follow @JoHart and Tweet me – put @JoHart in your Tweet and I will see it, I will be able to Tweet you with a couple of lists with relevant people and also some individuals that share interesting content and links.

TwitterChat

Once you have got started – especially if you want to join in or follow Twitter chats – it is a good idea to use a “Twitter Client” to help you organise and manage the flow of Tweets. A TwitterChat is a conversation carried out between any number of people using a #tag so that they can all follow and participate in the conversation. There are some excellent structured TwitterChats that select a topic each week (often using a poll) and then have a designated time for discussion the topic for one hour using Twitter. The discussion is then often summarised and made available online. One of the TwitterChats that I have joined in the past is #ELTchat, this has a focus on English Language Teaching and posts regular summaries of the chats.

As with starting to use Twitter or Facebook there are many “how to” posts available for using Twitter Clients, this “Beginners Guide to Tweetdeck” from “Mashable” is quite comprehensive.

Conclusion

This post focuses on getting started. If you have any questions please use comments to ask your question and I will try to help.

 

Facebook as a professional development resource/platform

Introduction

This post is for my colleagues considering the use for Facebook as a professional development platform. At some time soon I will post on using Facebook with students.

Facebook is used for social connections around the world, however it is also a great platform for professional development. Facebook has the capacity for you to “meet” others with similar interests and come together in “Groups” to discuss and share those interests. It is particularly important with Facebook that you understand and use your privacy settings so that you know who sees your posts. You also need to keep an eye on the Facebook settings because Facebook sometimes reverts things to defaults – especially what appears in your Newsfeed.

Fb1Getting started

1. Go to the Facebook website and sign up. Facebook expects you to use your own name and this is the preferred option anyway if you are using Fb for professional development. I have a second completely separate Fb account (using my work email) that I use for any student interaction.

2. Once you have signed up it is important to complete at least part of your profile ideally including an image (avatar). There is much discussion about what is appropriate in terms of images. If you are using Facebook largely for PD then a photo is probably best, alternatively a cartoon image that you can create with a tool such as Mangatar.

3. Now it’s time to start “Friending” people and/or joining Groups and posting! These are two  Facebook groups for VET sector educators:

  • VET Training and Assessment Networking opportunity for VET trainers and assessors across all Industry groups
  • FS Teach Specialist group for Foundation Skills (LLN and Employability Skills) practitioners

There are many other educator groups globally and a lot of these are cross-sectoral, here are just  few:

  • Educators using Facebook  For educators to share resources ,experiences ,teaching opportunities , educational innovations , best practices and other useful links with other educators
  • FacingIT   A group managed by Australian educators for anyone facing up to the challenges of using information technologies for communicating, teaching and learning.
  • Apps for Education  This group was started so that educators can share any apps that they use for education.

For industry connections look up your own industry area in the Facebook search to find groups relevant to your industry.

Some privacy and security points

I use one Facebook account for personal purposes and professional development. If you mostly use groups for your pd then your personal connections won’t get all your pd type posts. I use a second account to keep my student interaction separate and the two accounts are not “Friends” with one another.

It is particularly important with Facebook that you understand and use your privacy settings so that you know who sees your posts.

You also need to keep an eye on the Facebook settings because Facebook sometimes reverts things to defaults – especially what appears in your Newsfeed. If it doesn’t say “Viewing most recent stories” under the box where you type your post then you will be seeing “Top posts” ie the most popular. To correct this and see all posts from your connections go to the left hand column and look at the dropdown beside “Newsfeed” (top menu item under your avatar). Choose “Most recent” then you will see all posts from those you are connected to.

Your groups are listed on the left hand side, to see posts and to post in the groups you need to be on the group page.

Conclusion

This post is just about getting started and finding some potentially useful groups for professional development and networking. If you have any questions please  comment on this post and ask your question in the comment.

Session on Blogging at WAALC

This post contains most of the content from a workshop session on getting started with blogging and its potential with students that I presented at the WA Adult Literacy Council Conference on 17/4/15. Apologies for the length of the post – I just wanted to put all the content in one place! The slides are now uploaded to Slideshare.

Writing for the world out there

Blogging for you & your students – writing for an authentic audience. In today’s session we will look at:

  • What is a blog/blogging?
  • Why should we and our students blog?
  • Why comment on posts?
  • Ground rules.
  • The mechanics of blogging – getting started.

What is a blog/blogging

  • personal place
  • work/professional space
  • online journal/diary – ideas, PD, reflecting/sharing
  • self-publishing online for a global or specific audience
  • place to share media, resources etc
  • networking – commenting
  • online portfolio – developmental, evidential
  • submit tasks & get feedback


A look at some educator and student blogs:

The following images are from student blogs created during completion of Certificates in General Education for Adults. They show some of the evidence gathering activities for which the blogs were used.

Student work1 550px Student work3 550px Student work2 550px

Why we blog

Reasons to blog

 The “mechanics” of blogging

There are many blogging platforms, personally I use Edublogs for a number of reasons:

  • educator/student focus
  • can create and manage student blogs
  • good personalisation options
  • mobile friendly
  • excellent privacy/security options
  • outstanding support/help


Getting your blog

Go to the Edublogs signup page

Complete the details and submit the information. Once your blog has been created you will get a “Congratulations” message. This will contain your:

  • Blog URL
  • Username
  • Password

Make sure you write these down!

Then you can “Login to your new blog” and start customising it. Here are a couple of posts that might help:

When you are looking for a theme to change the appearance, be sure that you use a “Mobile friendly” one.

Creating Posts

Blogs are very individual so what and how you post is very much your own decision, however you might find the following posts helpful in getting started.

Blogging is not just about writing/text,you can embed a variety of media and other tools including:

as described in this post on embedding media

You can also upload various file types including:

  • Word
  • Powerpoint
  • Images

These can be linked to from posts for:

  • Assignment submission
  • Evidencing competence
  • Drafting and feedback

If you have questions or need help then please comment on this post.

 

Many webinars – recording links

Introduction

A catch-up of the recording links for  our webinars over the last few months.

Fine Focus (13/14 March 2014) – “Lucky Dip”

In this recorded session we discussed where we find interesting links and explored a few that have come up recently

Serendipity 20/21 March 2014

In this recorded Serendipity session we briefly discussed and explored several topics;

  • the upcoming #RSCON mini-conference
  • Thinglink
  • Stocking up tablets with “goodies”

Fine Focus (27/28 March 2014) – “Inkscape – a graphics tool”

recorded session  in which we explored some of the features of Inkscape.

Serendipity 2/3 April 2014

In this recorded Serendipity session we briefly discussed and explored the following:

  • “About.me” as a tool for self-publicising
  • Risks of having your online “identity” hijacked
  • Curing “writer’s block”

Fine Focus (9/10 April 2014) – “Tablet apps for learning”

recorded session  in which we shared and discussed some tablet apps that may be used for learning

Serendipity 23/24 April 2014

In this recorded session we looked at the following two topics chosen by poll from several suggested by participants:

  • “How to improve relations with parents)
  • “Benefits of being a blog follower”

Fine Focus (30 April/1 May 2014) – “Museums online”

recorded session  in which we explored and discussed some of the wealth of resources available online from major museums.

Serendipity 7/8 May 2014

In this recorded Serendipity session we briefly discussed and explored three topics:

  • Using “Paper.li” why and how
  • Educator evaluations
  • Recording a holiday/tour

Fine Focus (14/15 May 2014) – “One page to tell about giftedness”

In this recorded session  Jo Freitag (@jofrei) talked with us about some of the characteristics of “giftedness” and shared many resources for educators working with gifted learners.

Serendipity 21/22 May 2014

In this recorded Serendipity session we briefly digressed into sharing some of the highlights of our (@JoHart and @philhart)  road trip from WA to South Australia. We also discussed the following two topics:

  • Our most important sites to visit each day!
  • The importance of play in learning

Fine Focus (28/29 May 2014) – “The Benefits of Learning to Code”

This recorded session  was led by Phil Hart (@philhart). Phil has extensive experience in coding (as a long term IT consultant, systems analyst and software developer) and is also an educator and so is well placed to recognise and share the characteristics of coding as a discipline.

Serendipity 4/5 June 2014

This recorded Serendipity session was wide ranging and we touched on a variety of topics including: what an online toolkit looks like, some potential future topics for FineFocus sessions and what makes a good picture.

Fine Focus (11/12 June 2014) – “Fun sites for learning”

In this recorded session  we took a look  at some sites that might be described as “gamefied” and so could be engaging for students to access for learning purposes.

Serendipity 18/19 June 2014

This Serendipity session was a general chat including an update from one of our regular participants on some recent PD, how we review and reflect mid-year, celebrations/parties with students and “Serendipity block” – like writers’ block but when yu can’t think of a Serendipity topic :)

Conclusion

Once again I am finally up to date with posting webinar links. Sorry again for the short session descriptions.

Our Next Webinar

SerendipitybsmallOur next webinar will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday July 3 rd at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday July 4th at 7:00 am West Aus, later in the  morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues”. We post these on the whiteboard and then choose the topic for discussion by poll.

Edublogs webinar overviews – Feb 2014

Introduction

A digest of  our recent webinars over the last few weeks. I am still hoping/planning to return to posting a fuller overview or each webinar every week.

Fine Focus (13/14 Feb 2014) – “Columbus Cheetah Myth Buster Part 2″

This was a fascinating, and very interactive, recorded session (the second of two). In the session @jofrei continued to share and discuss with us some of the myths about giftedness. Jo has recently posted a series about busting the myths on “Sprite’s Site”.

Serendipity 20/21 Feb 2014

In this recorded Serendipity session we discussed and explored:

  • the upcoming #OZeLive online conference, including some of the logistics, moderator roles and communication strategies through the Australia e-series Ning
  • some of the BlackboardCollaborate tools available to moderators and their potential usefulness for volunteer moderators at OZeLive.

Fine Focus (27/28 Feb 2014) – “Are ‘cheap’ tablets worthwhile for use in class”

This week’s very different style of recorded session was a look at some of the pros/cons and possible uses for cheap tablets in the classroom.  The session was facilitated by @philhart who reviewed a relatively cheap (AU$120) Android tablet and shared his thoughts throughout. This provided a “great” hook for discussion and enabled him to explore the practicalities of the device in response to points raised by participants.

During the session there were also a number of ideas for classroom use discussed (particularly in a Kindergarten environment). We also briefly touched on some of the pros and cons of Android versus iPad for the teacher during which I shared my iPad screen through AirServer and AppShare.

The consensus was that with careful research into the features provided there is lots of potential for using relatively cheap devices in a classroom environment to enable students to undertake varied activities. This was a totally fascinating session and is well worth catching the recording because of the very different style of session compared to our usual FineFocus.

Conclusion

Once again I am finally up to date with posting webinar links. Sorry again for the short session descriptions.

Our Next Webinar

SerendipitybsmallOur next webinar will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday March 6th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday March 7th at 7:00 am West Aus, later in the  morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues”. We post these on the whiteboard and then choose the topic for discussion by poll.

 

 

Edublogs Webinar overviews – Jan/Feb 2014

Introduction

A digest of  our recent webinars over the last few weeks. From now on time permitting I hope to return to posting a fuller overview or each webinar every week.

Serendipity 9/10 Jan 2014

In our first, recorded as always, Serendipity session of 2014 we talked about several topics. Often when we are a small group we choose to discuss more than one of the suggested topics. On this occasion we talked briefly about:

  • Password management programs
  • Getting organised and planning for the year ahead
  • Our thoughts about our own most memorable teacher

As sometimes happens one of the topics (password management) generated a lot of interest but none of us had very much knowledge so this became the topic for the following FineFocus with @philhart volunteering to facilitate the session.

Fine Focus (16/17 Jan 2014) – “Password Managers”

This week’s fantastic recorded session was a look at the pros and cons of password managers facilitated by @philhart we also shared a variety of links to password managers both cloud-based and downloadable.

Serendipity 23/24 Jan 2014

In this recorded Serendipity session we discussed:

  • are cheap tablets worthwhile;
  • illustration programs;
  • latest e-gadgets

The discussion on cheap tablets centred mainly around features available and intended purpose. Our look at programs we might use for illustrations sent us as always in search of free ones and the discovery of some that were new to us – this has resulted in a couple of us who participated exploring Inkscape In the remaining time we talked briefly about any e-gadgets new to us we had heard about, “played with” recently or that we wish for!

Fine Focus (30/31 Jan 2014) – “Columbus Cheetah Myth Buster”

This was a fascinating, and very interactive, recorded session (the first of two – the second part will be on the 13/14 February). In the session @jofrei shared her extensive knowledge of some of the myths about giftedness. Jo has recently posted a series about busting the myths on “Sprites Site”.

Serendipity 6/7 Feb 2014

In this recorded Serendipity session we discussed:

  • drawing on the PC;
  • some security issues

We shared some of our recent experiences of using drawing/illustration programs including Inkscape. The discussion on security was mainly about the phishing attempts of the “phone call from “a computer company”” and “email from “your bank”” type that still happen regularly with slightly new twists.

Conclusion

Once again I am finally up to date with posting webinar links. Sorry again for the short session descriptions.

Our Next Webinar

FineFocusSmallOur next webinar will be an Edublogs “FineFocus” session “Columbus Cheetah Myth Buster II” in which @jofrei will continue her story of myths about giftedness. This session is on Thursday Feb 13th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday Feb 14th at 7am West Aus, later in the  morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room.

What’s that outside my window?

I was working at home yesterday with the window open as it was a beautiful Spring day. I needed to leave the study for some reason and so went to close the window. As I pulled the window shut I looked down, and to my great surprise saw that Jurassic Park had come to call. There on the ground, looking up at me, was a one metre long dinosaur! Of course it wasn’t really a dinosaur but a very large lizard.

GouldMonitor2 500 Of course once I saw the dinosaur I immediately forgot whatever I had been intending to do (I still can’t remember) and rushed to grab my camera. However by the time I had picked it up our visitor ws strolling round the corner of the house. I flew into the next room only to see that the lizard had walked under the “gate” where there was a narrow gap and into the fenced back yard area behind the house! An opportunity not to be missed, so I headed rapidly outside camera at the ready.

GouldMonitor3 500Numerous pictures later it was time to chivvy our visitor back out of the back yard. A lizard that size living in the back garden is not to be contemplated – too risky for us and him/her.

GouldMonitor1 500Our visitor, by the way, was a “racehorse goanna” so called because of their speed when they decide to leave in a hurry. Otherwise known as a “Gould’s monitor” Varanus gouldii.  I take delight, daily that I live in such an exciting place with spectacularly coloured birds, dinosaurs and kangaroos outside my window. Yesterday’s visitor will definitely find a space on the “Hart Calendar for 2014” that we make every year from pictures taken around the house and block.