After listening to Dr. Yong Zhao this past Tuesday, it reinvigorated a concept I hold dearly in this 21st century environment: taking ownership of your own professional career. To quote Dr. Zhao from his recent ISTE 2012 keynote, “you don’t wait for someone to create a job for you, you go out there to create a job for yourself.” Spending the last four days at ISTE, I was further convinced that our innovative teachers are expanding their own horizons (theme of the conference) and creating 2.0 versions of their professional career. It is nothing really revolutionary, but it has been amplified with the rise of ICT (Information Communication Technologies). Some teachers are considered “Rockstars” and have become professional icons to many; in fact, I bet some are making more money on the speaking circuit than they probably make as a teacher back at their school district. I certainly know a few teachers who left the traditional classroom and branched into independent consulting. Many teachers have written books, produced educational videos, created hashtags used by many, designed software, garnered thousands of Twitter followers, developed global Nings and continue to deliver professional development around the world. I mean this is stuff that definitely was not in their job description originally as a teacher, but has become an entrepreneurial endeavor based from their classroom teaching. It is important to note that many are not driven by the money (being an entrepreneur doesn’t always equate to monetary gain) from these endeavors, although I am sure a little side money doesn’t hurt. I am impressed and support how these teachers have branded themselves and evolved their career to something bigger than they have probably imagined going into a teaching career.
As Dr. Yong Zhoa highlighted in his keynote, it is the rise of the creative class and people with unique specialized skills. The talented teachers I have met are as creative as anyone, and have unique skills of authentic teaching with the “entrepreneurial” spirit of sharing their skills in branded ways (whether driven by $ or not). He further describes in his keynote the need to move towards entrepreneurial-based education and that schooling needs to be product-oriented. From the many great PLN that I finally met face-to-face, I see educators who are truly modeling what Dr. Zhao has been preaching in his keynote and new book: World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. The next layer is to bring this mindset and culture into our classrooms and students.
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.
When I first started Twitter back in August of 09, I had about 30 followers and was more interested in learning from others than actually engaging in conversation. It was primarily due to unfamiliarity with the tweeting culture more than anything. It wasn’t until I a few months later and the help of @simpleK12 that really launched my full use of Twitter. I had roughly about 70 followers when @simpleK12 recommended me to their followers and thus propelled me to engage with a bigger education community. Thank you @simpleK12!
Since then, I have engaged with many educators and technologists on various hashtags. It even inspired me to create a hashtag for K12 Technology Administrators called #EduIT. However, I noticed a change in my Twitter use since the early days of PLN engagement. I use to have daily conversations with folks and reciprocation was there. In the last few months however, I have felt like back in my early days when I had about 50 or so followers, less engaged and more reading and tweeting without engagement. For someone who has over 1000 followers, it has occurred to me that this is a sad state of my Tweeting. I normally interact with only a handful of my followers (maybe 20-30) and I find that to be a poor effort on my part. I have to remember the whole point of being on Twitter is to engage in dialogue to grow as a professional and share resources amongst each other. Because of my less than engaging effort, I found my learning has steadily decreased as well. I remember a paster saying “when in need, sow a seed.” I wrote this post as a reflection to change my engagement habits on Twitter. I hope to connect and learn more from my larger PLN.
I am launching Google Apps across seven schools this summer and asked my education PLN to help provide reasons why they use Google Apps? Thank you to all the valuable PLN members on Twitter for providing this amazing list! Keep the responses coming, I will continually update this list.
- @pmcash Students create a folder for a course/teacher. Store all work in the folder, teacher has access, no need to share each item.
- @kelalford I use Google Docs for myself to be able to collaborate with other teachers. Want to try to introduce third graders this year.
- @kelalford we use it to create grade level tests.
- @dmantz7 I like using Google Apps for Education because it can be integrated into Moodle. Also add Creately (mind mapping) to GAE domain.
- @jenroberts1 5 ways I use docs in an English class and 5 tips to make that easier: http://tinyurl.com/28wpje2
- @techmunoz #edtech I love google apps–forms, because it makes it so easy to create a quick assessment that you can embed or email 2 stdnts.
- @soltauheller we use googledocs to create surveys then to look at graphs that are produced – we can send the link to anyone we like
- @soltauheller have also used it to do collaborative unit planning with other teachers
- @bandlady All my students use google docs & presentations; so easy to share #edchat #edtech
- @coreygin Some reasons for Google apps: Simple, accessible, available anywhere anytime using any computer. And best of all: Free!
- @oh_the_places Used Gdoc for students to write collaborative letters – requesting info/decision from principal, parent letters, etc.
- @mtrump Too many ways to list in 140 characters
- @shfarnsworth #edtech #edchat – communal lesson plans that all teachers, study hall teachers, subs, at-risk teachers can access on google docs!
- @pughamy accessible, collaborative, community of resources #edchat #edtech #googleapps
- @pmcash Use anywhere, collaboration, FREE #edtech#edchat
- @jasonschimdt123 I want it for the communication and collaboration tools. I use GApps in my class, spoof it with a class email acct.
- @doremigirl Project assessment http://ht.ly/28KAi; teachers using GDoc to brainstorm curr ideas, sharing folders for diff classes GSites 4 Ss
- @wmchamberlain cloud based is nice, plenty of apps that allow them to be worked on locally too. Easy to share and collaborate with.
- @mtrump I share several G-calendars out of many with key people so they know if I’m in meetings or PD, etc. Integrates w/ Outlook Cal. if needed.
- @mtrump And collaborative editing on G-Docs = priceless! Teachers use for PLC planning….
- @mtrump Also use G-forms for instant surveys and assessment of classes/school/district. See the forms on http://bit.ly/dltTkg – they link to SSheet
- @thnorfar editing collaboratively-google apps
- @franze98 1 thing i liked over exchange (besides cost) was the more granular options for e-mail groups
- @marcellarepp I love igoogle-It is a great, quick way to organize all my websites I enjoy&areas that I want to keep connected with everyday.
- @carolgau Google docs – st collaborate and create rubrics, st make presentations for class
- @ariellehg multiple students take notes in a google doc using different colors focusing on different things ie: numbers, vocab, stories…
- @rosengo I have students use Google Pres for collaborative Socials presentations about Mesopotamia and Early Homonids. #edchat #edtech
- @MrA47 I use google docs with my students to go paperless. We are creating spreadsheets now and charting survey results
- @rkiker I use all the Google Tools b/c of simplicity, reliability, global access,and collaboration. Not sure why I wouldn’t use them.
Here are my reasons why I use Google Apps in K12 Education:
- Unified communication for all staff members using tools such as video chat, email, docs, wikis, and shared calendars.
- Growing list of available apps through Google Marketplace.
- Empowering users to contribute to the knowledge database using sites and docs.
- Access anywhere and anytime.
- Postini services provides strong mail filtering capabilities.
- Uses Google search engine for all our applications. Simpler to find information and hard to find emails.
- No servers to manage.
- Scalability of users is simple.
- Capability to combine multiple domains under one management interface. Schools can separate teacher and student domains.
- Google Docs editing on the go using mobile technologies is now available.
Since I wrote about the concept of #EduIT back in January, it has definitely sparked interest from both the information technology folks and teachers/edtech specialists who integrate technology in their instruction. With the growing role of technology in both the operations and instructional side of schools, the communication between IT & teachers has become more important than ever. I want to thank the following people (http://tweepml.org/23EduIT/) for being part of this conversation and I hope we continue to get more teachers and technology administrators to join the discussion.
Blog posts that formed my thoughts on #EduIT:
Over the past few months on Twitter, I have seen several blog posts regarding issues between teachers and school technology administrators. Majority of the posts come from teachers and edtech specialists expressing frustration that information technology administrators don’t get their instructional needs. In almost every post, a rebuttal comment from IT admins spark animated discussions back and forth. They are great discussions and it only supports my vision for a growing need of education information technology hybrid specialists.
On Twitter, I see many teachers and edtech professionals “geeking” out, and conversely, I see many IT admins participating on teacher #edchats. There is interest in both worlds, and until we have EdIT degrees and certifications, the #EduIT hashtag is the closet you will get to a hybrid world. Join “education” minded Information Technologists & “geeked-out” EdTech Specialists, in this resourceful best tech practices forum that tackles current and next generation K12 infrastructures.