There is no doubt that my PLN on Twitter has provided an abundance of quality information and resources in K12. I am connected to over a 1000 teachers, admins, edtechnologists, librarians, and “edu-minded” IT administrators. It has been a crucial part of my professional growth. As I continue to evaluate systems in education, from operational to instructional systems, I feel the need to look outside of my K12 PLN and expand my connections to other institutions, businesses, and organizations that can bring unique perspectives when applied to K12.
One area I am looking outside of K12 is data-analytic software. Data-informed instruction and operations will only help schools run more efficiently and effectively. Based on my previous post on The All-In-One K12 Software Solution, K12 products are just not ready for what I feel is needed for data-analytic software. This is where I feel the business world might have the products we are looking for if tweaked to K12 education. Companies like IBM’s SPSS, SAS and CRM solutions like Salesforce might provide some insight how we effectively use software to improve data-analytics.
Another area of the education model that has peaked my interest is e-learning. Often K12 institutions have looked to higher education for leading the way on e-learning products and virtual best-practices. While higher education provides great value, I have been actively researching how corporate training and professional development is being deployed across businesses. I went to DevLearn a couple years back in San Jose and found myself one of few K12 representatives attending. Despite being an outsider, I learned how many businesses were deploying virtual learning across their companies using game-based applications, virtual worlds, social networking, and mobile computing. The E-Learning Guild is an excellent resource for K12 folks to start researching because they have been tackling the digital learning industry intensively.
There are many other industries that will help expand my systems knowledge in how to effectively operate and educate students in K12. I want to expand my PLN to add folks in business, engineering, religious, non-profit, gaming, and fringe technologists who are bringing strategic change in their respective industry. In addition, I have found my PLN is US heavy, that needs to balance out to add PLN in other parts of the world. I am especially excited to start connecting with more PLN from Asia. Always appreciate connecting with PLN from #edbrunei.
I have been teaching about stock market investing as a major unit in my financial literacy course. It has sparked many ideas from my students as they are now looking at the world from a new perspective. My eighth graders are now looking at traffic as an opportunity to see how many cars are Toyota versus Honda. They are looking at what bags people are carrying around the mall. Some are doing research on MySpace to determine what is trending in the youth market. Trying to maintain the enthusiasm and momentum for my students, I wanted to integrate a technology component that will showcase all their research.
After researching several websites, Wall Street Survivor was the choice to use for my class. Wall Street Survivor allows you to create a private group for your class. I wanted to use the program to setup a fantasy stock trading group for our students to authentically explore investing. The website allows you to buy and sell stocks in real time and actually ranks your portfolio to everyone else in the group. It is a fun and engaging tool that keeps my students motivated learning more about stocks. I even added some of our staff members to join the game. The tool enhanced my lessons and provided my students real world experiences in investing. They even claim to pay teachers who use it, but yet heard back from them about that.