Social Networking Reflection

This quarter, I am taking a Social Media class (EDUC 775) at Drexel University. This post is a reflection to meet an assignment requirement for that class and outline what I have learned so far.
New Tools and Resources
I am always excited to learn about new tools and resources that are available on the internet. Prior to this class, I was familiar with sites like Twitter, and Pinterest, and Diigo, as well as tools like blogs and social networking. This class has forced me to examine these and other tools in a much greater depth than before. For example, I rarely used Twitter prior to this class because I did not grasp its true potential and value, but I have since made an effort to become familiar with this tool and use it regularly. I had thought of Twitter as merely as “micro-blogging” site, in which users post 140 characters that simply vanish into ether. However, there is more to Twitter than that. Tweets can start conversations with people that you would ordinarily meet. Experts like David Warlick (2009) sometimes answer questions asked of them in Twitter or their own blogs. In addition, using hash tags, users can carry on live interactive conversations with people across the world (TeachThought Staff, 2012). The amazing thing about this is that it is all free; all you need to do is go online and participate.
Personal Learning Networks
The idea of Personal Learning Networks (PLN) is new to me. The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition (Johnson, Adams, & Cummins, 2012) called them Personal Learning Environments, which I think I prefer because it goes beyond simply creating a learning network using social media outlets to the tools that you use to organize, connect, and utilize the information that you connect. To be honest, I have used my PLN more for website development information rather than education information, but I am growing both PLNs, slowly but surely. One thing that I have learned is that the topic of Common Core is heatedly debated on social networks, with proponents promoting its virtues and detractors calling it a waste of time and money, (and/or a socialist conspiracy to promote Obama’s liberal agenda).
National Educational and Technology Standards (NETS)
The NETS for Teachers (ISTE, 2011) stipulated that teachers should inspire creativity, provide opportunities for digital age learning, promote digital citizenship, and engage in professional development. I am working very hard to engage in professional development. I have not had much opportunity to promote digital citizenship yet, but I do so when the opportunities arise. I do my best to inspire creativity in students, as well as those around me. I have provided a few opportunities for digital age learning. I implemented a lesson using Microsoft Excel to create charts and graphs. I have also used the SMART Responders a few times as a formative assessment before, during, and after classes. As for leadership, I have assisted numerous teachers in implementing this technology in their own classrooms.
Conclusion
Social networking and eLearning are going to become increasingly important in the future. I definitely want to expand my PLN, and learn to utilize it efficiently, so that I can stay abreast of new ideas, technology, and resources. Game-based learning and Personal learning environments (PLEs) are Mid-term Horizon (two or three years out) adoption goals (Johnson, Adams, & Cummins, 2012). These concepts interest me, and I would very much like to learn more about them and their implementation.
References
ISTE. (2011). NETS for Teachers. ISTE. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/nets-t-standards.pdf?sfvrsn=2
Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Cummins, M. (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
TeachThought Staff. (2012, September 29). 8 Ideas, 10 Guides, and 17 Tools for a Better Professional Learning Network. Retrieved from TeachThought: http://www.teachthought.com/social-media/8-ideas-10-guides-and-17-tools-for-a-better-professional-learning-network/
Warlick, D. (2009, March 22). Personal Learning Networks: The Beginning. Retrieved from 2¢ Worth: http://2cents.onlearning.us/?p=1704

10 thoughts on “Social Networking Reflection”

  1. E.J.,
    It seems that you came into this course with much more knowledge regarding social media than I and it sounds like you really have a handle on things. I also strive to cover all the ISTE Standards but given a closer examination I was definitely able to identify personal deficiencies.
    Like you, I have a goal of expanding my PLN. I have already been able to utilize some interesting ideas and links from the new twitter feeds I follow. I also created an Edmoto account and made a page for my Zoology and Biology students. I am excited to see how they will interact with me and their peers through the site – it is only in its infancy and too soon to tell right now.
    If you don’t mind me asking, I am curious to know where you fall in the “Common Core Debate”. Thoughts?

    1. Hello Stephanie,

      I’m still trying to decide. The standards for DoDEA seem to be lacking in breadth and depth. They cover some things, but do not cover others, and they are not very specific on the things they do cover. I have asked other DoDEA teachers about this, and they agree with me. Compared to this, the Common Core standards seem like they would be an improvement, at least for us.

      Our school seems to be divided on Common Core. The teachers who follow the standards seem more willing to accept Common Core than those who follow the book. However, both are concerned that Common Core will not align with our current materials, and that the school will be forced to buy new materials. To be honest, though, our current materials do not seem that close, and those who follow the standards often go elsewhere to find standards-aligned materials. And for those who don’t follow the standards, why do they care anyways? It’s not like they are magically going to start following Common Core when they didn’t follow the previous standards.

      Overall, I guess I would have to say that I am leaning towards Common Core, and feel that it would benefit our school system.

      Thanks for the reply!

      EJS

    2. Hi EJ and Stephanie!
      I wanted to chime in about the Common Core discussion. Throughout the courses I have taken at Drexel and the observations I have completed at different schools in the Philadelphia School District, I have run into many different opinions about the Common Core. I am still figuring out my own opinions on it, but at its heart I feel as though the CC has the right intentions in creating a way to streamline curriculum nationally. I also strongly believe that educators do not need to feel restricted to teaching only what the CC covers, but rather the CC can be used as a jumping off point. Having a national set of standards does not equal a national way to teach those standards. I am student teaching in a charter school that does not follow the CC, but rather has its own “checklist” of skills that must be taught per Trimester. The checklist is a source of frustration for the teachers because the skills are very random, unorganized, and extremely detailed which makes it difficult for any creativity in how to structure the learning schedule. For example, during the 2nd Trimester we must teach summarizing fictional texts, however the per-requisite skills of finding the main idea and picking out details in a text is not taught until the 3rd Trimester. Many times both myself and other educators have said “I wish we were just using the common core, it is way more organized and straight forward!”
      All in all I am still learning about the CC and formulating my opinions, but I just wanted to throw a few thoughts into this discussion! Lovely post EJ.
      -Brielle Hart

  2. E.J.,

    I think it is awesome that you have been able to assist several other teachers in implementing technology in their classrooms. You have been able to use the resources that we have learned about in this course and put it to good use. You stated that you are trying to engage in professional development. Does your current school provide professional development in regards to digital citizenship or technology? You also mentioned the use of SMART Responders. I would like to learn more about how to effectively use them as an assessment. What do they measure? Your post was extremely insightful! Great job!

    1. Hello Matthew,

      My school offers some professional development for technology in the form of discount online college courses offered through San Diego State, I believe. Teachers meet once a week or once every other week after school to participate in the course, and they receive college credit as well as professional development credit.

      Our school also has a subscription to AtomicLearning.com, which offers self-paced online courses many popular software programs and technology applications. These are optional, by teachers are encouraged to complete these courses on their own.

      Thanks for the reply!

    2. As far as SMART Responders, they are a formative assessment tool that plugs into SMART Notebook, the software application that goes with the SMART Boards. Teachers create quizzes to display on the SMART Board, and students use SMART Responder hand-held devices to answer the questions.

      The results are shown instantaneously on the SMART Board, so you can see how much of the class got the question right. You can then export the scores so you can enter them as a grade, if you wish.

  3. I enjoyed your post and perspective on social media. I have also discovered Twitter’s potential for the PLN. I had no idea it could be such a useful tool! I like being able to find articles and blog entries that are relevant and interesting to me and then share them with others. I think that really ties into your comment of it being a participatory tool.

    Are there any specific games you are looking to use or incorporate into teaching? I think that could be incredibly motivating to students.

    1. Actually, I am just starting to learn more about this. One of my Cooperating Teachers uses classroom game activities (not computer games) to engage her middle school math class. She says you almost have to make every other activity a game to keep them focused and engaged, otherwise they get board.

      She is also currently compiling a list of online educational games for some of her upper-level business and economics classes. Students will play these games to learn skills that are aligned with our standards, hopefully.

      Thanks for the reply!

  4. You might want to look into using twitterfeed – it allows you to look at several different twitter feeds at once – yours, follow a hashtag, follow someone else. For example, right now, I have the #sochiolympics in one feed, @mkm420fritz in another feed(my handle) and then I can see all tweets for both at once!

    1. Hello Dr. Fritz,

      I have glanced at TwitterFeed, but I have not actually used it. I used TweetDeck briefly, but have not used a Twitter client since then. I will have to check out TwitterFeed.

      Thanks for the advice!

      EJS

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