Monthly Archives: November 2014

Visualizing My Own PLN

One of my new favorite vocabulary words as a result of this class is centered around the idea of living and learning through a connected environment.  Have you ever been tasked with a project that you had no clue how to start, challenged by an idea that should be possible but you’re not sure how, or, perhaps even more simply, have you ever started to Google something and ended up down a multitude of rabbit holes?  Then perhaps it is time for you to get connected.

Connectivism, as cited by the always helpful Wikipedia, presents us with a theory resting in beliefs such as:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.  
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Maintaining and nurturing connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Perceiving connections between fields, ideas and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

PLNs, Personal (or Professional) Learning Networks, can provide the opportunity to stay connected in such a way that Connectivism becomes a living theory….

So as I near the end of my Masters studies and think of my personal and professional interests and goals, I decided that the term ‘Connected Educator‘ should lead me in the creation of such a network.  But oh my…where on earth to start??

So I went back through every topic and tool we’ve discussed in class, others I’ve utilized over time and still others blogged about by classmates and out in the great beyond (a.k.a the internet via keyword ‘PLN’).  And so here it is, My PLN, in its beginning glory.  It will need to be expanded, updated, maintained and utilized in order to be found worthwhile.  But it is a roadmap of my own personal Connectivism and one that I know will be useful in the future near and far.

Still a little unsure on how to start your own??  Check out this one last video…have I mentioned how much I love You Tube? 🙂


Webcasts and Worries…Can’t You Just Click and Go?

I remember the conversation that began it all well……”they are willing to let us trial it for the east coast for free” I said to my Director at the time.  Her hesitation with digital technology and the demand for online courses was understandable, but in the world we were in I knew that it was time for us to move forward into the webcast domain-and this was our chance!  Our corporate office had purchased a few licenses to trial the creation of webcast courses in a few area facilities, and due to recent requests that I had made, we had been chosen to trial it for the entire east coast!  I was ecstatic!  “I’m not sure that many will even want to participate” she sighed, “and what about the audience and their potential technical abilities/difficulties.  Will you be able to help them when they can’t make it work?”

At the end of my tenure with my previous company, I had conducted multiple webcasts on multiple topics.  Each time with a broad audience of students that ranged in work roles anywhere from leadership to nursing staff.  The demand was certainly there, but it was not without its difficulties and I certainly walked away with multiple tips…

  • To my Director’s point, you do need to know your technology.  Students will need help and will have trouble connecting, no matter how many emails or step-by-step instructions you send prior to.
  •  As mentioned in the article, 9 Lessons I Learned from Running My First Webinar, you need to be wary of your PP presentation.  Do NOT use paragraphs or hard to read text.  It will look even worse on a Webcast and you aren’t in front of it making it seem less overwhelming by talking.  Put what you feel like they should take note of on the slides and make notes in the speaker’s notes for you.  Don’t be afraid to use more slides than you normally do!
  • Get creative and remember to engage your audience.  When you stand in front of a classroom, you can read facial expressions, hop up and down, wave your arms, ask questions, etc.  But when it’s you, a screen and voices over a phone or computer, your opportunities can be a bit more limited.  Familiarize yourself with the tools you have available and, if all else fails, don’t mute your phone.  Ask questions, use your chat, throw up a few smiley faces and ask for green checks.  Poll your audience.  Engage them or loose them.
  • Ask people to log in ahead of time.  This will definitely help with any technology issues that you may encounter before hand, and will eliminate your need to cut down on content to stay on track for your target ending time.  Plus, you can work with people individually more prior to the session on these types of issues-eliminating the time others have to sit through the necessary back-and-forth as you try and figure it out.
  • Take time for yourself to practice and set up.  I had to take time in the beginning prior to every session; the day before just to do a quick run through, and then an hour before to not only set up (I couldn’t set up the day before, it could only be about an hour before you started the session) but to also try for any troubleshooting that I may need to do.

There are a multitude of articles and resources out there that can help you identify ways to be as prepared as possible prior to conducting your own session online.  The ones bulleted above were my biggest and best based on my own experiences, but boy this post could certainly go on for days!  The best advice I could give if asked however would be to try it out for yourself.  It is yet another way to reach so many with educational opportunities, and one that is growing in popularity with a multitude of ways/programs to make it happen.   So embrace it, make note of things that may happen, and start small.  The world will be your oyster before you know it 🙂

Reaching More

Before locating the requested article this week, I turned to the YouTube video that we were to view entitled, An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube and found myself…intrigued.  I had no idea that YouTube had launched in April of 2005, causing me to not only marvel at how such great advancements can take a while to be discovered, in all of their possibilities, by the ‘outside’, but to also appreciate how it has since developed into what it is.  It can take a while for society to embrace change, and especially a change that can make things so much easier to reach others in a variety of ways.  The self-expressive form that YouTube has become is inspiring and enlightening, to say the least.  This “new form of empowerment” as noted in the video, has created an opportunity to link people together, allowing all people from all across the globe to have the ability to share, trade, and collaborate with one another.  So why is such a tool that can create such empowerment not traditionally used in a classroom setting?  Video can add a new voice, a light, a chance to go back as we move forward.  But then, when is this appropriate?  Could such a capability really be useful in every classroom?

Enter my article for this week entitled, Moving Worked Problems to YouTube, by Warren Christensen.  In this article, Christensen discusses the use of class time, especially that of what is typically deemed inevitable.  Concepts and content is a necessity when helping students to understand a topic, and yet the learning can often be so much more when the concepts are then applied to an activity/discussion.  But for the lack of time, which do you think is typically sacrificed?  Christensen helps us to understand that not only can web-based videos aid us in making the most of our class time, but that it can actually be so much easier than many want to make it out to be.  Technology has become a medium that can not only make our classes that much more, but they can help us to ensure that we are engaging our students to “improve conceptual understanding and their problem-solving abilities.”  (pg. 501)

So perhaps for me, I have been left with the understanding that this is a world that can be useful in its non-constraint.  Video can reach so many, offering the possibility of a new world, and perhaps a new way of life (or at least learning about it:)

To view the article mentioned in this post, click here….

To see an example of teaching through technology, and/or how to use Twitter as an educational tool (a personal interest of mine to further explore), click here….