The Unintended Foot Print

Living in a modern society requires you to have a digital footprint to a certain extent. Even if you don’t use a smartphone, credit or debits cards, drive a car, use a computer, or use a Fitbit or any other electronic device; you still will likely have a digital footprint even if it is very small. Because even if you are not using any of these devices, other people are using them and you can end up showing up in places you didn’t expect. So many devices are being used by so many people that it is very hard to be digitally invisible. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that you need to knowledgeable and proactive in the management of your digital footprint. As an adult in my thirties I am very happy that social media was not around when I was a kid. There is not a digital record of all of the mistakes and bad choices that I made when I was younger. Kids today who participate in social media are typically not mature enough to understand the consequences of poor social media exposure. They often learn the lesson the hard way when they get rejected from their first college choice or when they get fired from a job because of something they posted about their boss on social media. Adults are only somewhat better at managing their social media exposure as the ways in which people use social and online mediums is continuing to change. People need to understand that the groups they belong to, the activities they participate in, their preferences in music, literature, hobbies, and everything else is available online. Even if the group you belong to only meets in person, they likely have a Facebook page, Twitter account, or even an online newsletter that will link them with that group. All of the things found online about us make up our digital reputation. We should do our best to ensure our online reputation reflects our real life reputation. Unlike our real life reputation, the online representation of us is visible to anybody in the world who takes the time to look and is often lacking context to explain it.
To get an idea of my own digital footprint I started out with just a basic Google search of my name. What I found was mostly what I expected to find, one things I had forgotten, and one I never expected to find. All of these things I feel represent the main ideas people need to keep in mind when interacting online and even in real life. First there are the things I expected to find. These include my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress, EdTech website, and YouTube account. These are all resources that I currently use in my personal, educational, and professional life. I try to keep these sites up to date and I make conscious decision about what I post to all of them. Looking at my social media accounts would only give a personal a small chunk of understand who I am and what I believe and this is a personal choice. The item I forgot about was an old MySpace account. If you don’t know what MySpace is you are probably younger than 30. There isn’t much that is able to be viewed on this account as I haven’t used it in over a decade. There are some pictures though that I would prefer to not have out there. This site is a good reminder that the internet is forever. It’s important to remember the things you do online are always there, even long after you have forgotten about them. Lastly I found a court document that is linked to because of the poor choices of a family member. A person who doesn’t read it may think I have a criminal past, but I don’t. This document wasn’t online a few years ago. It appears the courts are trying to make more information available online by digitizing older court cases. While I can understand why they would do this, I’m not happy at having this come up when I search for myself. This finding reminds me that the people you are related to or associate with can give you a footprint that you are not happy about, but also cannot do anything about it.

Using Twitter for Professional Development

This week we were asked to follow at least five new hashtags on twitter in an effort to better understand the role Twitter can play in our ongoing professional development. For this project I chose to follow #edchat, #math, #K12, #dojochat, @middleschool. In addition to following the five new hashtags, we were also asked to discuss three new things, resources, or ideas we learned by following the new hashtags. Lastly, we were asked to discuss our thoughts about using twitter for just-in-time professional development.

Through #edchat I found an additional list of 50 popular educational hashtags. While some of these are the same as the ones provided in the course resources, there are many additional resources available. I’m a firm believer in having as many resources as possible so you can select the most appropriate resources to fit your needs. I was especially excited about finding #HourOfCode, which had a lot of great coding resources. Coding is popular among students and is a great skill for 21at century learners to acquire. If you would like to check out the additional list, visit https://ictevangelist.com/50-popular-hashtags-to-help-develop-your-professional-learning/.

At #middleschool I found this great blog that discussed different end of year topics. This included end of year classroom management tips, end of year assignments and lesson plans, special end of year activities, and end of year teacher reflection. The end of year teacher reflections was what I found most interesting from this resource. Not only did it discuss a format for the reflection, but it also gives an example so you can see how it’s intended to work. I also found it useful that this resource has additional links to blogs for different content areas and different aspect of middle school life.

Lastly, I found #dojochat to be extremely helpful to find new ways to utilize the Class Dojo app/website to keep students engaged both in school and out of school. Class Dojo is a continually evolving program. This hashtag provides educators a way to share new ways they are using Class Dojo in their classrooms. They also hold chat sessions on different specific topics related to using Class Dojo.

After getting just a small taste of the type of resources and information available on Twitter I’m very excited to see what else I can discover and how I can use it to become a more effective educator. From what I have seen so far there a lot of great opportunities to find resources, participate in discussions, and connect with other educators. The amount of resources available is amazing and I know as I become more proficient in their use I will be able to maximize the impact of using Twitter for my own professional development.

CoP’s, Connectivism, and PLN’s

Creating a nonlinguistic representation of depicting communities of practice, connectivism, and personal learning networks was more difficult than I initially thought it would be. The reason for this is that they are very closely related and interconnected. This makes it logical to study them together in one unit.
“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly (Wenger-(Trayner,” n.d.) I represented this with different groups of people to represent that communities of practice can be made up of different types of people with different degrees of experience and that people may belong to multiple communities. In order for a group to be considered a community of practice it must meet three characteristic. These include domain, community, and practice. This means that they share a common interest, they participate in activities together, and build relationships with each other. Lastly, they create shared resources and protocols for solving problem.
“Connectivism is a learning theory that explains how Internet technologies have created new opportunities for people to learn and share information across the World Wide Web and among themselves (“Connectivism (Siemens, Downes),” 2015). Social media is the tool most commonly used when sharing information across the internet, which is why I chose an image of a smartphone with Facebook showing. Facebook is one of the most popular platforms world- wide for sharing information.
Lastly, we have personal learning networks commonly referred to as a PLN. “A personal learning network is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment (“Personal learning network,” 2016). Personal learning networks can be much less formal than communities of practice as well as being a lot smaller. Personal learning networks are any connections with other people in which a person learns from. This can be one teacher sharing a lesson plan with another teacher or two teachers working out a problem.
Communities of practice, connectivism, and personal learning networks are completely interconnected in that CoP’s and PLN’s are similar in that they are both geared towards learning and sharing information between people. They are able to function in large part because of internet technologies that allow for people to interact on a global scale. This is the reason I overlapped all of the pictures. Connectivism is common among all of the images while CoP’s and PLN’s are similar in nature, but enough different that they are separate.

Connectivism (Siemens, Downes). (2015, June 1). Retrieved June 13, 2017, from https://www.learning-theories.com/connectivism-siemens-downes.html
Introduction to communities of practice | Wenger-Trayner. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2017, from http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/
Personal learning network. (2016, June 12). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Personal_learning_network&oldid=724857969

EdTech 543 – Social Network Learning

pexels-photo-199497

Hello and welcome to my initial thoughts as I begin my adventure of learning how to integrate social networking into the classroom environment. Our world is rapidly changing as social networking websites/apps are becoming to primary source of communication between individuals and groups of people. Whether it’s through the sharing of a video, picture, internet meme, or live broadcast social networking sites are having a major impact on how society sends and receives information. In 140 characters or less millions of people across the world can engage in discussion about anything and everything and large political/social movements can be born. Social networking may be one of the most impactful tools to ever be developed. Given this powerful tool it is logical for us to look at ways to leverage social networking tools to enhance the education of our students. This is what will be the first of many blog posts about social network learning, which focuses on initial reactions to being required to joining social networks for use in this class, my experience in using social media in my own professional development, my experience in using social media as an instructional strategy in my learning environment, and my expectations for this course.

My initial reaction to joining these social networks for use in the course was excitement as it makes me feel we will to a certain extent be able to see what using social media might look like. I have already used most of the social media required for the class. This makes me feel confident I will be able to navigate the sites/apps I will need to use for the class allowing me time to focus on theory, application, and experimentation in the use of social media in a learning environment. I was also comforted to see that it doesn’t appear that any of my privacy settings will need to be changed to fully participate which leaves me I control of what I choose to make visible online.

I have absolutely no experience in using social media for my own professional development, but I hope that will be change as I progress through this class. I imagine there are a lot of valuable resources available through social media that I am simply not aware of that could be of great benefit.

I also have no experience using social media as an instructional strategy as I have only taught second grade where you don’t have students engaged in social media, but as I am hoping to be in a middle school setting starting the next school year many of my students will be engaged in social media and I would love to be able to integrate its use into my classroom.

My expectations for this class is that I will learn the theory and best practices for using social media in my classroom effectively and responsibly so that it has the greatest impact possible. Increasing student engagement is always a focus for teachers and I can see how social media could play a large role in putting content into a real world context that will increase engagement. I do have concerns about some potential pitfalls of using social media as well and I hope that this class will provide me with solutions to avoid these pitfalls and avoid any negative outcomes. For example, how do you setup expectations to ensure positive learning experiences for both experienced social media users and novice users? How do you address parental concerns about allowing students access to social media when they would otherwise not have access to it? Are there any legal concerns that I need to be aware of as a teacher? Many schools block access to social media when connecting to the school’s WIFI network, how do I work to make this access available if it is not already available? I am very excited to find answers to these questions along with the other questions I haven’t thought of yet as the class session progresses.

Final Blog Entry

Part 1
Through the course of this semester I have learned about different methods of integrating technology into my classroom in ways I had not thought of in the past. Using the grade level I teach on a daily basis allowed me to envision how the lessons I created could help me cover content material in more engaging ways. I also found a lot of new resources that provide not only lessons that I can use, but also explain the theory and rationale behind using them. This not only provides me with ready lesson plans, but also gives me the background information to apply the theories and concepts to other lessons. One of the greatest things I have learned is to look at the advantages of using different types of technology. I feel it’s important to use technology purposefully.
The coursework has required students to show mastery of the AECT Standards in numerous ways. In order to complete the course work it has been necessary to understand the theory behind different strategies of integrating technology into the classroom in order to choose the appropriate tools and resources to accomplish the goals of each module. Once the theory was understood it was then necessary to implement that understanding into a working lesson or activity. The quality of the activity showed whether we had an appropriate understanding of the theory. Before, during, and after creation of lessons and activities it was necessary to consider the role technology would play during instruction. Considering the relative advantage of technology integration ensured that technology usage was done for the purpose of enhancing the lesson and not just for the sake of using technology. Through completion of the course work it was required that we use research to support the strategies that we implemented in our lessons and activities as well as writing blog posts that required a minimum of two sources to support the conclusions we reached.
Professionally I have grown in regards to the way I approach technology integration. While I have always believed that it’s important to not simply use technology for the sake of using it, I didn’t have as strong a foundation as I needed in order to properly evaluate my methods of integration. Also, I have gained exposure to a lot of new quality tools that I can use to enhance my lessons and improve student engagement and performance.

Part 2
Based on the requirements of the blog posting rubric I feel that my blog posts were of outstanding quality. I used multiple resources for all posts and wrote in a reflective manner that integrated information from my own personal experience as well as from my understandings of the readings and other resources that were a part of the course. All of my posting were done in a timely manner that provided other students with an opportunity to respond to my posting. My responses to classmate’s posts advanced the discussion and provided information that enhanced that discussion.

Assistive Technology

For this class I work on a Lenovo Yoga 710 2 in 1 laptop, which has several accessibility features included with the laptop as well as many additional features provided by the Windows 10 operating system. These features make using the Lenovo laptop more accessible to all users with different needs. The laptop itself includes tactile bumps on the keyboard that provide a reference point for users to locate keys on the keyboard without visual assistance. This feature helps individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The laptop includes industry standard connectors to provide easy hook up for any accessibility devices needed by individuals with any type of disability. Next, there’s a TTY/TDD Conversion modem which allows the hearing impaired to send messages to another TTY/TDD device (“Accessibility Features,” n.d.).
The Windows 10 operating system is equipped with many accessibility features built into it. These features have not changed a lot since the last release of Windows, but they also have not been scaled back at all (“How to Manage Accessibility Features in Windows 10,” n.d.). The first feature is on-screen notifications. The notifications are accompanied by a chime sound. These notifications assists both visually and hearing impaired users. The chime let’s visually impaired users know there is a notification and hearing impaired user can see the notification. Next, there’s a narrator available that reads anything on the screen in terms of the name of the window that’s open. Speech recognition options allow you to open programs and menu as well as clicking buttons and other options on the screen. You can also dictate text in documents or emails. Basically, anything you can do with your mouse or keyboard you can do with your voice. This tool provides assistance for individuals with hearing, visual, and physical limitations. Next, there is customizable text size. This allows you to change the default size of the text on the screen. This feature is beneficial to the visually impaired. Then we have a magnifier. The magnifier allows the user to zoom in on any part of the screen up to 1600% magnification as well as being able to invert the colors on the screen to make things easier to see. These features are for the visually impaired. Screen resolutions can also be adjusted, which will change the default size of objects and windows on the screen to assist the visually impaired. Next we have keyboard shortcuts which enable users to press combinations of keys to take certain actions. This limits the use of the mouse, which assists individuals with physical limitations (“Accessibility Features,” n.d.).
Many of the features available today on devices use to require additional software. Now many come standard. This doesn’t totally replace after-market software as many of those software packages are more customizable and have even more features. It does however make it so more people have access to these features as they don’t have to pay extra money on top of the cost of the device.
Accessibility Features. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.lenovo.com/lenovo/us/en/accessibility/
How to Manage Accessibility Features in Windows 10. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2017, from https://www.howtogeek.com/223319/how-to-manage-accessibility-features-in-windows-10/

Obstacles and Suggested Solutions for Integrating Technology Into the Content Area

Integrating technology has continued to be a challenge for many educators as they find it difficult to find the time and expertise to create the instructional materials necessary to create quality instructional materials. This is combined with the still lingering issues of having enough technology available to accommodate a classroom or thirty or more students. These challenges become even more difficult when you are trying to utilize technology for you ELL students.
“ELL teachers regularly employ a variety of specialized and unique teaching strategies and best practices aimed at helping their students acquire English and thrive academically (Knutson & Graphite, n.d.).” For ELL teachers, finding technology apps is a very difficult challenge. For my project, I created a lesson for second grade students learning about place value in math. While there was a never ending supply of apps and online resources for traditional students, it was almost impossible to find resources for ELL students. In most cases I had to choose tools that most appropriate based on how they worked. I selected online tools that worked more with manipulatives and visuals, rather than those more dependent on language. One of the most important things for ELL students to grasp is the vocabulary involved in a lesson, but this was one of the things not included within the learning tools available online. Quality tools not being available though is just one of the major issues in technology use for ELL students.
According to Robertson, there are five areas that still pose a major challenge to teachers working with ELL students. This includes language, limited access, different levels of experience, school infrastructure, and being able to keep up. (Robertson, n.d.) While ELL students are already trying to get up to speed on learning a second language they also need to know the language of technology use in order to be able to effectively use the tools. (Robertson, n.d.) Learning the tools can be very difficult since many ELL students do not have access to technology when they go home. They may not be as familiar with alternative ways to access computer or internet services like non ELL students are. (Robertson, n.d.) ELL students also have much more varying degrees of experience with technology. You may have students who are “sitting in front of a computer for the first time. This requires that teachers develop their own ability to differentiate technology instruction for their students” in addition to the instructional differentiation they are already doing for the content being taught (Robertson, n.d.). “While many schools across the country have invested heavily in technical infrastructure and equipment, many have not – including numerous schools serving ELLs (Robertson, n.d.).” Lastly, even when you school has the technology available, it is very difficult for teachers to keep up with the newest best practices and tools for integrating technology into the classroom while also keeping up with everything for the rest of the classroom. (Robertson, n.d.).
From my experience in creating my content area lesson, the most effective strategy is to keep in mind the best practices for instructional strategies for ELL students while choosing technology tools to use. ELL students need to be introduced to vocabulary early and have it reinforced often throughout a lesson to make the content more accessible. Using technology that uses virtual manipulatives, which they already use can help make the transition to using them online easier. It’s also important to use the technology tools as often as possible depending on the experience and access level of your students so they can continue to hone their skills in technology use. As for all students, becoming experienced in technology use is absolutely vital for them to become good digital citizens and prepare them for life after school. It’s absolutely imperative in today’s world that all students be fluent with as much technology as possible.

Knutson, J., & Graphite, C. S. (n.d.). Where Do English Language Learners Fit Into the Ed Tech Revolution? Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/09/14/where-do-english-language-learners-fit-into-the-ed-tech-revolution/
Robertson, K. (n.d.). Preparing ELLs to be 21st-Century Learners | Colorín Colorado. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/preparing-ells-be-21st-century-learners