Thursday, March 24, 2011

It Isn't Going Anywhere - My 400th Post

Fad, by dictionary definition, is "a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc., especially one followed enthusiastically by a group."  There is and always will be fads in education.  Sometimes those fads just take on different names.  When I was in college, it was called "Team Teaching."  Now it is called "Collaboration."  In the 21st Century, collaboration is taking on a whole new meaning.  The idea of being able to collaborate with educators outside your building/district is the newest fad.  Most people will tell you that fads come and go in education.

This fad though; it isn't going anywhere.  Social Networking is here to stay.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Diigo, Skype, Mobile Technology, RSS/Blogging, and other forms of collaboration, in my opinion, are here for the long haul.  It is not just a fad.  So, how do we as educators who have embraced this fad, get others to join in and be a part of the "group who enthusiastically follows" this fad?

Recently there was an infographic shared about the number of people who are on LinkedIn, which is a professional social networking site.  There are over 100 Million registered users.  Of those, 997,000 thousand are teachers who use the site to network with other educators.  I have a LinkedIn Profile, but don't use it as often as I probably should.  Linkedin provides valuable "Professional Collaboration"

I have learned that the best way is to get teachers to understand social networking is to help them see it first hand.  I realized that attending a conference where participants and presenters are using Twitter to show connections was a valuable method.  Every teacher who attended a recent conference with me now actively uses Twitter. Some are collaborating with other educators and some are collaborating with their students/parents.  Following that conference, we had a session of PD's at one of the schools that I work at and one of the teachers shared their use of Twitter.  From that session, a few more teachers have started to use Twitter with their classes.  In the future, those teachers will then be able to share their experiences, thus creating a chain reaction.

Twitter is valuable tool for social networking, but it serves so much more of a purpose.  I learned about Elizabeth Taylor and the Earthquake/Tsunami  in Japan from Twitter before hearing anything about it on the news.  I learn so much about educational reform, educational policy, educational technology, and other important aspects of education.  Twitter is "Informational Collaboration."  

I continually encourage teachers to sign up and use Diigo to manage their web based resources.  3 years ago, such a service was not necessary, but with the growth of Web 2.0, the resources for teachers are abundant.  I have created a group for the teachers in my district so that they can follow other teachers and share links with each other through the Internet.  I encourage them to join other groups in the community so that when new resources become available, they can easily find them.  Diigo provides a valuable method of "Resource Collaboration."

Last year I attended a meeting about creating a Social Media AUP for our district due to the growing use by stakeholders in our community.  I mentioned the need to look at having a District Facebook page.  It was turned down because of all the negative publicity, which I completely understood.  Then this year, in another meeting I mentioned it again and shared examples of other districts (some smaller, some larger) who were using Facebook to connect with parents.  From that meeting, our CIO and other faculty created our Disrict Facebook page.  We also created a Twitter account to share the same stories from Facebook.  In about 5 months, our district Facebook page has reached almost 1500 followers, thus allowing our district to collaborate and inform our parents.  Facebook provides "Stakeholder Collaboration."

More and more students, teachers, and administrators are embracing blogging.  There are several hundred thousand educational related blogs out there.  There are several ways that you can find educational blogs just by doing a simple Blog Search, or using the Edublogs Directory.  Even though the majority of this blog is about sharing resources, it provides me a method of personal reflection, while at the same time providing collaboration with other educators about my own ideas.  Blogging provides "Reflective Collaboration"

Skype in Education is becoming a valuable tool for collaboration.  It provides people from all over the globe the opportunity to meet and talk with each other without being in the same location.  Conferences are using Skype to bring presenters in who are to far away to make the trip in person.  The InnovatED Conference coming up has several presentations via Skype; myself included.  There are tons of Skype Resources available for educators to use making it easier to integrate it into the classroom.  I have come to realize just how valuable Skype is for "Distance Collaboration" 

In the past couple years there has been a drastic increase in mobile technology and websites for using cell phones in the classroom.  I recently wrote 10 Tips for Using SMS in the Classroom and I firmly believe that in the coming years the argument around cell phone use in schools will be a thing of the past; because like social networking, cell phones are not a fad that will be going away.  Cell phones provide "Mobile Collaboration"

My question to you is; how are you going to join this latest fad?  What type of collaboration are you and your fellow educators involved in? "Social Collaboration" isn't going anywhere, so how you are going to get involved in this latest fad?