My Digital Footprint

11092069533_57b8577eaf_o

As a history teacher, I love to find the individual stories of people’s personal experiences as they live through historical events. Although learning about the major events the past is essential, it is the personal stories that make these events real. I recently spent a week a Library of Congress exploring primary documents. Uncovering letters and documents from real people, and reading about even some of the most mundane daily tasks brought life to the otherwise ordinary events. I learned quite a bit about people and families that are otherwise lost to history. But each document told someone’s story. I wonder about the lives of those didn’t record their stories…

The papers that have lasted over the centuries are better than any treasure. What we can learn about people from ordinary documents is remarkable. But I find myself wondering about how future learners will learn about history. So much of our lives –personal and professional- is being recorded in the form of posts, tweets, images, etc. How will historians be able to sort through all of these digital records in order to tell the story of the past? Is it a good thing or a bad thing for the future historians that so much information will be available? Will anyone care about my digital footprint? These are the questions that come to mind as I think about the digital footprints that we leave.

Have you ever Googled your name? I have, and I must admit that my digital footprint is nothing spectacular. According to How Many of Me I am the only person in the world with my name. Which is both good and bad. There is a slim chance that some other Cinnamon Johnsrud will ever put inappropriate or questionable content online which may lead someone into thinking it’s me.  So in that respect, I am glad I’m the only one.  For now, my digital footprint isn’t particularly revealing. I think if anyone were to Google my name, they would know that I am involved in education, perhaps as a teacher, and that’s about it.

The first thing that appears when I google my name is my Twitter account. My Twitter account is used solely for professional purposes which establishes my role as an educator. The next link that appears is my personal Facebook page which is set to private. Anyone exploring it may see that my profile picture is a picture of my family, but no other information is available. The other links that are associated with my name are by Boise State work including my digital portfolio and my blog. There are also links to the school I work at, the district I work for, etc. Nothing is exceptional or too personal. What I did find interesting was the fact that the images of “Cinnamon Johnsrud” include many images of people I work with and people who I do not know. (How does this happen?)

This leads me back to the essential questions I established at the beginning of this post. What does my digital footprint say about me and how will people in the future understand me as a person? While I am grateful that there isn’t anything questionable, I don’t think that the information online reveals who I am really am, either. As I continue to think about my digital footprint, I wonder how much of myself I should reveal. While I am an educator, there is much more to me than that. Should those aspects be revealed or should I keep that part of my life private? Does it matter?

Keeping my online reputation positive, honest, and safe is certainly a priority. My efforts to make sure that happens begins now!

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/penbentley/11092069533

Twitter, Tweetdeck, and Hashtags..Oh My!

Tweetdeck Screenshot

I am already somewhat active on Twitter, but that’s not to say that I use it to its potential. Prior to this assignment, I had explored Tweetdeck, and I already had an account established, but never used it simply because it was “one more thing” to add to my ever growing list of tools I want to learn about. With this assignment I was able to explore it in depth, and WOW!

There are a few hashtags I already use regularly, so I decided to use this an opportunity to look for new hashtags. As a result, I added the following hashtags to my Tweetdeck:

#HistEdChat- History Education Chat

#TLChat- Teacher Leader Chat

#EducCoach- Education Coach

#HistoryTeacher- History Teacher

#EduLeader- Education Leader

From the initial explorations of these hashtags, I have come across a few observations and resources. First of all, in the conversation on #tlchat, I loved the dialogue among the educators. Many posted questions asking for specific informaiton, and those questions were answered. How awesome is that? Additionally, the #HistoryTeacher hashtag has quite a few conversations going regarding needs for teaching resources. This will definitely be a go-to resource when I am looking for resource for my classes. I can easily get myself lost in the exploration of the links that people have posted. For example, the site 37 Best Websites for Learning , sent me down an excited rabbit hole or learning!

Although I have had teachers question this statement, I believe that Twitter is a powerful source of professional development. I can choose to focus on my areas of interest, need, or passion. I can connect with people who are not simply consultants, but people who actually practice what they share. Yes, there is only so much one can learn in 140 characters, but the real power comes from the sharing of the resources and the follow-up discussions that often occur. One can simply lurk along on Twitter to get what he or she needs from an extended network, but sharing resources allows us to develop stronger connections and therefore stronger learning communities.

Happy Tweeting!

Personal Learning Networks, CoPs, and Connectivism

Image for PLN Connectivism CoP

As I embark on this journey of networked learning, it is important for me to reflect upon the key concepts and theories related to Personal Learning Networks, CoPs, and Connectivism. While each concept is separate and distinct with its own features, there is no denying that strong connections and relationships exist among and between each of them.

With widespread use of the internet, social learning has evolved from something that required individuals to come together in face to face setting to connections and interactions that are no longer constrained by time or geographical locations. Understanding how PLNs, CoPs, and Connectivism are interrelated can help educators better understand their roles and responsibilities in their own learning.

The image above is a visual representation of my current understanding of PLNs, CoPs, and Connectivism. In the center is the brain made up of gears to represent the concept of connectivism. Connectivism is one potential theory  to explain the manner in which individuals acquire knowledge through interaction with others. Around the brain is a small group of people who share a connection by holding hands. This represents a Community of Practice. These individuals are working closely together with a common purpose adding to their knowledge. On the outside, surrounding the CoP and the ever-learning brain, is the much wider group of people who represent the Personal Learning Network. Again, each individual contributes to the overall learning emphasizing the role of connected learning, but the members of PLN are not as tighlty connected as the CoP.

Personal Learning Networks – According to Marialice B.F.X. Curran, a Personal Learning Network is “self-created set of experts, colleagues, and resources…that meet one’s daily learning needs.” The word self-created implies that the members of a PLN have a personal interest continual learning. PLNa allow learners to connect with other teachers on their own time to seek feedback, support, resources, and personal connections with other teachers (Rossett).

Communities of Practice- I would argue that a Community of Practice offers many of the same benefits as a PLN, but there are some distinct features that separate a PLN from a CoP. Specifically, More specifically, a CoPs develop from a learning network and that focus in collaborating and learning together is more tightly focused with a specific purpose. Within a CoP, the actions, discussions, and common goals are coordinated. Communities of Practice share common values and dispearsed leadership, even when there are different perspectives among members of the community (National Council of Teachers of English).

Connectivism– Connectivism has been described as a potential learning theory, but a number of learning theorists argue that Connectivism is not a stand alone theory. Instead, some argue, it is a component of social learning theories long since established. Connectivists argue that the acquisition of knowledge comes as a direct result of our interactions with society. Kegan Remington describes it well when he says, Connectivism presents an opportunity for learners to construct their own understanding of the world around them by associating pre-exisiting knowledge with their own interactions with society.”

Resources: 

“Communities of Practice. A Policy Research Brief by the National Council of English Teachers” Rev. of Performance Title, by Author/Director/Artist. November 2011: Retrieved July 5, 2015, http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/CC/0212nov2011/CC0212Policy.pdf.

The Connected Educator: Building a Professional Learning Network « Allison Rossett. (2012). Retrieved July 5, 2015, from http://www.allisonrossett.com/2012/07/17/the-connected-educator-building-a-professional-learning-network/

Connectivism: Learning as a Community – Designed:2:Learn. (2015). Retrieved July 5, 2015, from http://lpd.nau.edu/connectivism-learning-as-a-community/

Curran. Marialice. “Creating Personal Learning Networks (PLN) in Teacher Preparation Programs Through Twitter.”  University of Saint Joseph, Mentoring Conference (2013): Retrieved July 5, 2015 from http://www.gonevirtual.org/uploads/6/0/8/6/6086473/creating_personal_learning_networks_pln_in_teacher_preparation_programs_through_twitter_.pdf

The PLP model: Research-based professional learning. (2012, August). Retrieved July 5, 2015, from http://plpnetwork.com/research-based-professional-development-that-works/

“Communities of Practice. A Policy Research Brief by the National Council of English Teachers” Rev. of Performance Title, by Author/Director/Artist. November 2011: Retrieved July 5, 2015, http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/CC/0212nov2011/CC0212Policy.pdf.

Image Credits:

Puzzle Pieces: http://www.clker.com/clipart-puzzle-piece-top-1.html

People: http://free.clipartof.com/details/7-Free-Teamwork-Clip-Art-Of-A-Circle-Of-Diverse-People-Holding-Hands

Brain: http://www.clipartbest.com/free-brain-clipart-images

Social Network Learning – Post 1

Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/p-552411/?no_redirect
Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/p-552411/?no_redirect

Social Networks. Personal Networks. Social Media. Online Learning Communities. All of these words came to mind when signing up for this course. In fact many more words, phrases, and tools initially crossed my mind when considering whether or not to sign up for this course. Some of these words are familiar to me because I have a developed some foundation on these topics, and other words crossed my mind because I am somewhat intimidated by them.

I also thought back to the day I signed up for a Twitter account. Little did  I know that the person who first exposed me to the power of Twitter is now someone I consider to be “Twitter Famous”. I was sitting next to Alice Keeler (if you are a teacher who is interested in technology and you’re on Twitter, I would be willing to bet you have seen her name mentioned),  and she helped me set up my account, explained the basics of Twitter to me, and encouraged me to jump in. That was several years ago, and Twitter was something  I wrongly assumed was for people interested in celebrity gossip. It took be a long, long time to realize that Twitter was actually a powerful tool for me  to connect with other educators. I’ve made some strong connections and received valuable resources and information from other educators around the globe in the time that I’ve used it. I know, however, that I have more to learn about other ways to connect, share, and learn with others who share my same interests and passions when it comes to education and learning.

As a middle school teacher, I have a basic understanding of the laws in place to protect young students when it come to technology use. I am also keenly aware that all of my students- despite the fact that many of them are underage-have at least a small handful of social media accounts. I am torn between following the law and living in reality when it comes to using social media in the classroom. As we work through the coursework in this class, I hope to gain better insight as to how to make social media work in my classroom while still following the rules.

By the end of this course, I hope I will have developed a strong understanding of the power of social networking as it relates to my personal growth and the growth of my students.

Final Reflections on EdTech 541

Nearly a year ago, I attended my first Google Apps for Educators workshop. I will never forget the words spoken by the closing keynote speaker. He left us with one powerful question to ponder.  Now that you have all of this new knowledge, what are you going to do with it?  Perhaps it was his captivating delivery or the fact that I felt an overwhelming responsibility to actually do something with what I had learned, but for some reason, this question has danced in my mind in the most profound way. This same question has resonated with me as I have completed the assigned readings and explored new technology tools in this course.  And now more than ever,  I cannot get the question out out my mind: Now that I have all of this knowledge,  what am I going to do with it?

First, I think it is important to consider what I have learned,  and how I have applied that learning to my classroom instruction. I think that by viewing the lessons throughout my project, it should be apparent that I have learned how to use a variety of tools in ways that can benefit student learning.  The lessons I’ve developed throughout this course required me to develop a wide variety of instructional materials using “print, audiovisual, computer-based, and integrated technologies” (AECT Standard 2). I’ve learned that technology can be applied in ways to meet students’ diverse needs without an extraordinary amount of time and effort (AECT Standard 1.4). And I have learned that my interest and passion for educational technology is stronger than ever.

Throughout the entire course, the Constructivist learning theory was put into action. Learning has occurred as a direct result of using the tools and resources that we were exposed to. As  result of these experiences (which included huge successes and some very serious struggles), I was able to make each learning experience personally meaningful and applicable to my classroom instruction. In several instances, I was stretched beyond my comfort zone (Vgotsky would be pleased, I am sure!), but those are the areas in which my learning was the greatest. Additionally, I have learned to appreciate the power and influence of social learning.  The exchange of  information with classmates and peers has been a greater influence on my learning than I  expected.

So, how does all of this apply to my classroom and my own professional development? And, just as importantly, how does all of this help me answer the lingering question: Now that I have all of this knowledge,  what am I going to do with it? Believe it or not, I think I can sum up the answer with one simple hashtag. #noinfohogs  I realize how simple this may seem, but when I think about how much I have grown as a direct result of the sharing of information, I know that it is important to encourage my students to share with one another. I now know that I, too, have knowledge and skills that can benefit  those that I work with. I have never felt confident enough to put myself in a position of feeling as though I have something to offer, but I have reached a point that not sharing would be intentionally selfish. I haven’t figured out how I will make this happen just yet, but watch out. I am ready to  learn, try, apply, and share.

References

Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved December 07, 2014, from http://www.aect.org/standards/initstand.html

Assistive Technology

The Assistive Technology project I completed was an eye-opener. While I knew that many tools existed to support those with disabilites, I hadn’t expected to find such an overwhelming number of tools and resources. I became more and more interested in the tools that were specific to my computer and operating system that I use at school and at home. Knowing that I have had students in the past with both hearing and vision disabilities, I wondered how many times I could have used the tools that were already available on the computer.

In just a short amount of time, I learned that Windows 8.0 has the following tools that are readily available.

On-screen Notification

On-screen notification helps hearing-impaired people be aware of the status of their computer. On-screen notification replaces sounds with visual cues or text captions to indicate that activity is happening on the computer. As a result, system alerts are noticeable even when they are not heard. For example, when you select one object with your keyboard, the object is highlighted. When you move the pointer to one object with your mouse, the introductory text of the object is displayed.

Narrator

Narrator is a screen reader that reads what is displayed on the screen aloud and describes events like error messages.

Speech Recognition

Speech Recognition enables you to control your computer by voice.

Using only your voice, you can start programs, open menus, click buttons and other objects on the screen, dictate text into documents, and write and send e-mails. Everything you do with the keyboard and mouse can be done using only your voice.

Magnifier

Microsoft Magnifier is available to help visually impaired people use the computer more comfortably. Magnifier is a useful utility that enlarges the entire screen or part of the screen so that you can see the words and images better.

References

Accessibility Features. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2014, from http://www.lenovo.com/lenovo/us/en/accessibility.html#screen

Accessibility in Windows 8. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2014, from http://www.microsoft.com/enable/products/windows8/

Assistive Technology: Resource Roundup. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/article/assistive-technology-resources

Obstacles and Solutions – Integrating Technology into the Content Areas

While the benefits of technology integration are clear, the reality of making this happen is often wrought with obstacles. While obstacles may be real, they are not immovable.

Obstacles and Solutions

Access to Resources: A primary concern among many educators regarding technology integration is the lack of access to resources. Schools have limited hardware to use and access to computer labs on a large campus is often difficult to come by. Access to the internet is also troublesome at some school sites which makes integration challenging. Additionally, resources on school campuses to support the use of technology such as an IT support person are almost non existent.

Potential Solutions: Many schools are beginning to implement a Bring Your Own Device Policy to bring more technology into the classrooms. While this may take a lot of work to implement, the access to technology can be greatly improved when implmented. Using students to work as a support team can be a powerful approach to solving some of the technology problems on a school campus.

 

Teacher Skill:  This is often a struggle at many school sites. Teachers who are uncomfortable with their own technology skills are unlikely to integrate technology into their curriculum. Educators who have not been witness to the power that technology can bring often are hesitant to bring technology in their classrooms. Some are even outwardly resistant. With low technology skills and and unwillingness to learn, the challenges schools face when implementing technology are tremendous.

Potential Solutions: Providing effective training can increase teacher skill.

Training:  Effective teacher training can be costly. School districts with limited resources often expect teachers to implement new tools and methods with minimal training, even though the need is great. Without the right people and/or funding, the training that is necessary is often overlooked.

Potential Solutions: Training can come in a variety of forms:college course work, district developed training, online trainings, etc. Districts must find ways to train teachers. Additionally, the training must be geared toward specific needs of individual teachers. To save on costs, teachers with knowledge and expertise can serve as trainers on school sites.

Teacher Attitude: Teachers’ attitude regarding the use of technology can often be the most challenging obstacle a school must overcome.  In one study, students expressed concern that it often appeared that their teachers did not understand that technology plays a significant role in students’ lives outside of school.  These students believed that if teachers had a better understanding of this, they would bring more technology into the classrooms.

Potential Solutions: Bring teachers into the discussions about technology use. By modeling ways to teach standards and current curriculum, teachers are much more likely to have buy in.

References

BYODExplorations – Home. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2014, from http://byodexplorations.wikispaces.com/

Barriers to Integrating Technology – The Digital Librarian. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2014, from https://sites.google.com/site/thedigitallibrarian/barriers-to-integrating-technology