(This is step four in the free Teacher 2.0 course/"experience" at Mightybell - participate at https://mightybell.com/experiences/3ff5259e1c4d9948-Teacher-2-0.)
How has the Internet has impacted your own personal learning?
Oh, my gosh! I could write a book on this topic, but I'll have to limit myself.
One of my favorite places to learn was actually inspired by Steve Hargadon - Classroom 2.0 - so ably run by Peggy George, Lorna Costantini, and Kim Caise where every Saturday morning they bring in a special guest to share his/her story and resources. I also have tuned into many of Steve's Future of Education Webinars as well as webinars from the EdTech channel such as Seedlings and Teachers Teaching Teachers.
I also follow many of the top leaders in educational technology on Twitter. If even a day goes by when I don't check into twitter, it takes me over an hour to skim through the tweets I've missed. Of course, I can't click on every link, but almost every resource offered in these tweets have provided great professional development.
In addition, I read many blogs, including featured blogs from my Tech&Learning newsletter.
I also get good updates from eSchool News.
Next, I'm proud to be a Star Discovery Educator and rely on their site and the DEN (Discovery Educator Network) for an endless supply of great learning opportunities. In fact, I just attended the Westchester Day of Discovery face-to-face conference in White Plains, NY. I got to hear a keynote by Hall Davidson and also attended his two sessions on video in the classroom and iPad app and devices. Then I got some great info from Cindy Lane on Google Earth as well as info on using DE classroom tools from Max Brooks.
I don't have any one blog that I follow consistently, but those by David Andrade, a physics teacher from Bridgeport, CT who blogs at http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.com/ and offers detailed explanations of his personal experience with many great resources. Of course, Richard Byrne's freetech4teachers is also a great site.
I have to admit that I spend WAY too much time on the internet reading, researching, contributing -and sometimes, I really just need to log off and go take a walk or bake some healthy muffins or read a book or watch a tv show with my hubby. But doing what I do is my passion, and even when I retire from my school system this coming June, I doubt I'll be able to leave it behind.
Oh, and finally, how could I forget?????? I love getting a chance to watch TED talk channel -I hope I'll be able to watch many more presentations when I have more time.
Oh, and then there's PBS - and the Discovery Channel - and the History Channel --enough! I'm done! (Smiles!)
I'm laughing! Great response! And I think you could still go on with more!
The Internet has opened up my professional development to be under my control.
I have been able to follow interests in technology and learning and to be able to keep up with this fast, ever-changing area - how else could anyone keep up with it!
By using Twitter I can keep up with the topics of interest of the moment. I follow many sites on Google Reader as well although it takes a while to go through.
Am taking the #change11 MOOC at the moment, and this has really opened up my eyes to new ideas and possibilities - it is an exciting area but really needs a lot of reflection to understand what might be useful.
I believe that technology and learning are absolutely intertwined - pedagogy is a soft technology and vital for us to understand how to incorporate hard technologies into our courses/schemes/goals for learning.
I write about what I learn, in order to try to make some sense of it, on my EdTech-Insights blog.
How has the Internet impacted my own personal learning? Are there authors or sites that you "follow?" In so many ways! I am a "leading edge" member of Generation X (graduated from high school in 1986 and from college in 1990, started teaching in 1992), so I have lived through the transition from the pre-digital world to the digital world. As a high-school Latin teacher, I've always been "the one" (or, at best, one of "the two") in every school where I've taught. Back in 1992, that meant utter, complete isolation! I remember making long-distance phone calls, back when those were expensive :-), to colleagues and friends in other cities when I needed advice or support or help. But now, when new teachers reach out for help, there's a vast community of support for them. Two decades ago, if I needed extra materials for my students, my only practical option was to make them "from scratch" myself. Now, if I need something -- or if they need something -- it's easy, free, and instantaneous to find it (or quick and painless to adapt it). Then, if I wanted to read a Latin or Greek text I didn't personally own, I had to drive at least an hour to the nearest university with a Classics department; today, I find it online in a heartbeat ... including texts that haven't been commercially published in centuries. (Like Laura Gibbs, I love GoogleBooks, too!)
What sites do I go to regularly to learn new things? This can't be a complete list, by any means, but here's a sampling:
Twitter - where I browse more than I participate actively, but I frequently follow links to all kinds of amazing blogs, articles, and other resources
Google+ - the best Personal Learning Network I've ever found. I find that I create and curate as well as consume content there.
Facebook - I follow some interesting groups for progressive educators there, and I use the chat function to talk with colleagues in real time
thelatinlibrary.com - Where else can you find all of Latin literature from the Classical period, and much from later, neatly organized and free to use?
GoogleBooks - I think Laura's post said it all :-)
Practomime.com - where my amazing colleagues Roger Travis, Kevin Ballestrini, Stephen Slota, and Emily Lewis, among others, are building a game-based Latin curriculum
And of course The Tres Columnae Project, which is "my baby" -- a Latin learning community based on collaborative content creation.
Latin teachers like to think they're "at the forefront of new technology," and some of us are -- but for some of us, "new technology" means Yahoogroups and e-mail listservs. Just today, someone was excitedly asking about a "new thing" called a WebQuest! :-( But I participate in several listservs and Yahoogroups for Latin teachers, sharing material, talking about differentiated instruction, and virtually mentoring new teachers from time to time.
When does the Internet or the Web help your learning, and when does it distract from good learning for you?
Overall, I think the Web helps my learning more than it distracts me -- though it's certainly possible to click from link to link to link, or to spend hours staring at a Twitter feed, or to spend far too much time responding to Google+ posts! For my students, I think that using the Web to learn helps with both breadth and depth of learning -- but breadth is definitely easier! The whole 20th-century school model, which even in near-death is still very powerful, emphasizes breadth ("coverage") over depth, and "grazing" on content over full engagement. At the same time, though, now that my students can use smartphones for educational purposes in class, they can engage with the Tres Columnae Project materials at their own pace, and they can delve more deeply into things that fascinate them. In December we'll start working on two projects that they initiated: curating "difficult" vocabulary (and creating a glossary with clickable links) and collecting -- and assessing the reliability of -- links about the cultural and historical concepts featured in the stories they read and write. That would have been impossible in a pre-Internet world, where the textbook was king and other resources required a lengthy drive to a university library.
How do you feel about technology and learning?
I think I've partly answered that already :-) -- but to sum up, I think that technology poses both opportunities and threats for authentic learning. On the whole, the opportunities outweigh the threats, but the threats are real. I loved the metaphor of teacher as driving instructor rather than driver -- and I think it very aptly describes the role I need to take as I work with learners in an age of pervasive technology. I was fortunate to have a truly excellent driving instructor myself (thank you, Mr. Love, wherever you are now!) and learned so much from him about teaching as well as driving. It's important to allow learners space to make mistakes -- but not so much space, or such serious mistakes, that they hurt themselves! Also, you have to know when the learner is ready for the "freeway" and when it's better to stay on the "back roads" or even in the "parking lot."
The Internet is such a huge part of my life that it is difficult to pin down specific sites that I visit regularly. I am active on Google+, Diigo in Education, and (although not as much) Twitter. I am constantly being guided to great sites by blog posts, site links, and colleagues. Every day I learn something new which affects my teaching.
I do not tend to follow certain people with a few exceptions. I love Audrey Watters and her blog Hack Education. I follow Thomas Frey (of the DaVinci Institute) and Rodd Lucier (The Clever Sheep) on Twitter. I receive a daily update from Diigo in Education as well.
The issue with distraction vs. learning is a tricky one. I do get distracted easily from my original task, however many times I find that I am led toward more learning this way. I tend to trust the process. However, at times I really DO get distracted in the "wow, you just totally wasted three hours and have nothing to show for it" way. As time goes on and I work more and more with the Internet, however, this happens less and less.
Technology and learning are really becoming more and more one and the same. As I watch each generation come up through the school system, I see how things are changing more and more quickly. The newer students have much more facility with all types of technology. They are risk takers, explorers, not afraid of the unknown. They know better how to locate information, and how to test for validity. Technology is becoming an essential part of problem solving, and they are really thinking outside the box in this arena. It is a very exciting time to be a part of the educational process!
I have my favourite sites ordered in my feed-reader (Bloglines, and Symbaloo), and of course there are many streams on twitter and facebook that I follow.
I follow about 20 blogs and use symbaloo to organize the content. I follow Godin, Pink and Dangerously Irrelevant. I think it help and distracts on a daily basis and some times at the same time. I believe that technology and learning are inseparable, one compliments the other.
As mentioned in my last post, I am currently working on my Masters in Educational Technology. This program is offered online through the University of British Columbia so all my learning is online and on the web. This has had a tremendous impact on my learning as I have had to learn new strategies for navigating on the world wide web in order to find research and resources in a timely manner. I have all so had to learn what makes a site/internet article worthy of looking at and using.
I have also become a big fan of twitter for 24/7 professional development. This social networking was brand new to me but has opened up a world of opportunities and information that I would not have accessed otherwise.
I have also been a part of a pilot project at my elementary school and been fortunate enough to have team taught in a tech infused classroom for the last three years. The experience has been a major learning curve for me, a tech illiterate before this experience. In my classroom our students are using Kidblog,, Pixton, Comic Life, Kidspirations, iMovie, iPhoto, SMART Notebook to name a few of the sites that we have discovered together and are now part of our daily work.
I have recently created my own blog as well. I was inspired by other education blogs that I learned about through work and through twitter. This has added a whole new dimension to my learning.
Technology and learning goes hand in hand and is something that you need to embrace or be left behind in the 21st century classroom.