Thursday, September 14, 2017

Module #3 - Connecting Through Your PLN
The networked teacher is a successful teacher.

This graphic depicts the myriad of resources our educators have at their fingertips.  These aren't just Wikipedia, Google, and Flickr. The networked teacher is connected to the world of education through a plethora of social media including Twitter, Blogger, and Pinterest.

It's not about the tools, it's about using tools to access the wisdom, creativity and experience of your worldwide colleagues to enrich your students' learning experiences and make your life easier.

PLN is an acronym that has many meanings and connotations.  Primarily, it is a network of people and resources that we use in our everyday lives both personally and professionally.

Personal (Professional) Learning Network - This is the set of connections that you use in your personal or professional life.  With most educators, there is a drastic overlap between their personal and professional lives so making the distinction is not necessarily important. What is important is how we build our PLN and what we do to grow it as needed.  What is important is how we contribute to our PLN so that others can benefit from our experiences as much as we benefit from theirs.

Why are PLNs important?  Here are a couple of educators who share the true meaning of using PLNs in their personal and professional lives. The first video is an elementary school teacher explaining how integral his PLN is in his life.  The second is a technology coordinator who explains his strategy for growing his PLN over the year.

Almost makes you want to pop open your Tweetdeck to see what has appeared over the past hour, doesn't it?

Sure, your PLN can include a collection of Twitter pals, favorite Bloggers and interesting Flickr collections, but this is just the beginning.  Kathy Schrock, one of the leading educational technology specialists, has created a 25-minute webinar about how to use and build your PLN.

Students Use PLNs Too
Creating PLNs isn't just for teachers.  Students can find opportunity in organizing their resources. This next video was produced by a 7th grade science student who is taking you on a tour of her PLE (Personal Learning Environment).  She has used Symbaloo as a simple way to create a page of resources that she can use for her research all year long.  Notice that she is even connecting with scientists around to world as part of her research. Can you see how this tool could be useful for your students? (Notice that she has over 85,000 views - someone thinks this is important.)

There you have it, you have reviewed how PLNs can change your personal/professional life and what you can include in your own PLN. Let's return to our UNI elearning page and see what we can do with your own PLN.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Module #2: Tweeting, Chatting and Connecting

Twitter is an exciting application for communicating with a community of people with similar interests.  It is a quick and easy way to share your ideas, expand your connections with others, and keep up on the latest news in education and the world.

Twitter is a social network and real-time communication system that was launched in 2006 but it has taken the world by storm. It is a free and immediate entre to the public stage.  Private and public figures use Twitter to share their ideas and connect with their followers and the world in general.

Almost Half a Billion tweets are sent per day.  It can be a wealth of information and communication, but it can be incredibly overwhelming.

How Can I Possibly Keep Up with Twitter and FaceBook and all of the Social Media????

As of today, there are over 6000 tweets per second.  No, they don't all go to you, but you can easily be overwhelmed by the incredible immensity of it all. I used to worry about trying to keep up with all of this until I heard Howard Rheingold explain that we need to look at Twitter as a stream. It is a stream of information that flows by. When you are thirsty, you go over and sip some tweets. When you have had enough, you go back to your regular life.

Here is a classic video that uses the river metaphor to discuss Twitter for Teachers

Getting started with Twitter is easy. You need to begin by getting a Twitter account.  Chances are that you already have a Twitter account but consider creating a Twitter account that is only for your professional life.  This way people (and potential employers) won't be investigating into your personal life. (frankly, if it is on the web - it is fair game for all to see.)

If you want to create a new Twitter account, follow these steps.  Even if you are an avid Twitterer, I would suggest reviewing this resources.

Tools for Organizing Twitter

The key to successfully using Twitter is to be able to manage the tweets. The Twitter online app is useful, but it doesn't have the organizational capabilities that you need to be in control.   One of the most popular tools is TweetDeck.

TweetDeck is a tweet organizer that can make create small tidepools to filter this stream of tweets. It can be used to create specific columns for specific people or specific words/hashtags or follow predetermined lists. TweetDeck is also a powerful tool for organizing the tweets that you send.  It

It counts your characters, shortens the length of tweets through abbreviations (TweetShrink), and even shortens the length of URLs.  The most exciting part is that it enables you to schedule when your tweets will be sent.
  1. Register at the TweetDeck website.
  2. Click the Desktop link to get to the Download page.
  3. Download TweetDeck.
  4. There is only a TweetDeck phone app for Android.  Just download the Twitter phone app if you have an iPhone.  TweetDeck is owned by Twitter.  
    1. If you have suggestions for Twitter Phone apps, share them with your colleagues.
Here is a short video about using Tweetdeck.  It looks like it is created by a student helpdesk but it is pretty good.  Even if you have already begun using TweetDeck, this will be a good overview of using TweetDeck.
(Double-click on the video if you want to go to YouTube where you can enlarge it and make it easier to see.) 

Twitter Chats (Tweet Chats)  

A Twitter Chat (or Tweet Chat) is actually a Twitter conversation that revolves around one unique hashtag.  Like-minded tweeters (professionals, fans, friends) tweet at a predetermined time using a specified hashtag. This can be an overwhelming event with #hashtagged postings hyperspeeding by. 

Twitter chats can be challenging experiences so here is a video by the Cool Cat Teacher (Vicki Davis) to introduce you to the experience.

A popular tool for engaging in Twitter Chats is   This tool will manage the ongoing stream of chats as well as insert the relevant hashtag in each message.

The key to engaging in Twitter Chats is to find chats that are relevant to you.  This means that you need to have a calendar that lists all of the chats that are available each day of the month.  The most complete one that I have found is the Education Chats Calendar by the Cybrarian.   Click this and find a few chats that support your interests.
Return to the eLearning website to find your assignments now that you have had an introduction to Twitter. 

Finally, if you are craving more resources for Twitter, you need to visit Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything.  Kathy was a digital education pioneer and she has created a guide to EVERYTHING.

This time, we need to find what she has to share about Twitter.   We need to visit Twitter for Teachers.  It is filled with resources, applications, fun, tools and teaching ideas.  Review it and apply it in your classroom and your life. is a resource that I learned about at ISTE 2017. This isa rich website that curates collections of resources for teachers and offers various courses (some free, some for a fee). Most importantly, has a never-ending calendar of International Twitter Chats for you to search. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Module #2: Social Networking - Blogging

Blogging is today's newspaper, book, magazine, and thinking pad all rolled into one.  The beauty of a blog is that it provides the creator with a true freedom of expression.  It allows us to create freely and express ourselves in ways that weren't available 20 years ago.

This form of expression is ripe for the classroom:  
  • Many teachers at all levels use blogs to provide a painting easel for students to create. 
  • Some teachers use them to share information about what is happening in their classrooms (a much more direct form of communication than sending newsletters home each week. 
  • Many teachers use blogs to share their projects or ask advice of other educators.   The opportunities are endless.
I thought that I would share a few of the blogs that I like.  I have tried to break these into the three categories that I have just listed.  PLEASE share your favorites with us by inserting a link in one of the comments below. (It may say "no comments:" now, but click on it and add your thoughts.)

Student Creations

Sharing What's Happening in the Classroom

Sharing Ideas with Other Educators


The best way to learn about blogging is to read blogs. Select at least 3 blogs concerning your educational interests to follow throughout this class. You can select from the list above, or you could look for suggestions at 52 Education Blogs You Should Follow ( or you could Google it by entering the term, Blog, and then your area of interest, i.e., Universal Design for Learning.

Following Blogs

Once you have found the blogs you want to follow, you need to find a way to get to them easily.  Yes, you could bookmark them in your browser and then click on them daily.  BUT, there IS a simpler way. 

It is possible to use a Feed Reader to check your blogs daily and inform you when something new has been added.  There are many of these feed readers, but to make it simple, I am going to suggest using the Feedly Chrome Extension.

Here is a short video on how to install Feedly as a Chrome Extension.*
* I am recommending using Chrome as a standard - for simplicity sake.

Once you have added Feedly, add at least the three blogs that you have decided to follow.

Getting Into the Blog-o-sphere

You have already entered the blog-o-sphere by beginning to follow some bloggers.  What did you learn?  What comments did you leave on the bloggers' postings?  Did you get any responses back from anyone? 

Now that you have reviewed the postings of accomplished bloggers, what do you think?  Was it useful? How could you make blogging useful to you?

It is time for you to create your own blog-o-sphere identity. You will begin by creating a blog and then begin to share your ideas, experiences and resources. In the past we have said that blogging involves Reading, Commenting, and Writing/Creating.  You have already had the opportunity to read and comment.  Let's hope that you continue with this enthusiasm as you embark on your blog writing/creating experience.

Writing/Creating a Blog

Writing is the key to it all. This is where you can share your ideas with world. It is where you have to confront your thoughts. I once had a professor (Dr. David Moursund) who told me that he didn't know how he felt about a topic until he had written about it. Writing requires you to organize your ideas so that you can express them in a clear and cogent manner.

First thing you must do is create a blog. Do you already have a blog?  If so, review these steps and then move on. The easiest blog to create is in Blogger.  Some of you have created blogs using other tools like WordPress or Kidblog.

WordPress: A powerful blogging tool that is used by many of the leading bloggers.  I know of a number of them who have even moved their Blogger blogs over to WordPress because of the additional advantages.  If you are interested in continuing your blogging after this class, you may want to open a blog on WordPress.

Kidblog: If you haven't heard of Kidblog, you might consider it for your students.  It has many advantages
  • It is easy to use. 
  • Each student has his/her own blog.
  • All of the student posts can be directed to appear in the class blog. 
  • All postings and comments can be moderated by the teacher
There are probably many other pros and cons for KidBlog so if you have experience using it or like to explore new software, please inform all of us about what you find.

Here is a 5-minute video by Adam Bellow on How to Use KidBlog.  They allow you to have one free active blog.  If you want more, it will cost you $5/month.

How to Start a Blog
I have written many instructions on how to begin a blog but I just found an extraordinary blog posting that Tells It All.  This posting, How to Start a Blog Today, by Scott Chow is an easy to understand simple step-by-step tutorial.  I must warn you that he has written this to market the BlueHost website, but it is possible to do all of this for free using Blogger, WordPress, KidBlog or any other blogging system you find useful.

  • If you don't have a blog, decide on a blogging system that you would like to use and then follow Scott's steps. 

  • If you DO have a blog, read through Scott's steps and see how it might step up your game.  I know that it gave me a couple of good ideas.

    REMEMBER!!!  Blogging is PUBLIC!! It is NOT in an enclosed eLearning discussion group that ONLY you, your classmates and Dr. Z will read.  It is in the public. All of your classmates will be reading it. People in the public may read it.  DON'T write it like you are answering writing prompts on a test.  Write it in a manner that will interest your colleagues.  

    You will find the ACTUAL ASSIGNMENTS on the eLearning Website.

    What to Write?  Sometimes it's tough to find what to write.  The MOST important part of blogging is to be PASSIONATE about what you write.  Here is a collaborative list of ideas for writing prompts.  Look there for inspiration but share your own ideas and sources for inspiration as well.

    Once you have an idea, here are some hints for making effective postings.  You may have found some other ideas about what makes a posting interesting.
    • Begin with an active title. (i.e., Making Your Blog Postings More Interesting; 5 Ways to Extend Your Summer Vacation; How Blogs Changed the Writing Process in my 10th Grade English Class; or ????)
    • Include an image or photo of some sort.  You can find a wealth of photos you can use (as long as you cite them as I have done below) at Flickr/CreativeCommons  (
    • Always include at least 2 links to something relevant on the web. This means that when you discuss the Dr. Z Reflects and Clif's Notes blogs, you must have links to those websites so that your reader can examine them.  It is similar to the APA citations you have to do in your research papers, only it is MUCH easier to include. Include links to your classmates' postings.  Build community.
    • Your postings must have depth and that is more than can be captured on the single page.  Writing a post can be a small research project that will provide readers a deeper understanding of the topic.  This depth is provided by the additional links you provide your readers.
    • End your postings with questions to elicit responses from your readers.
    Here are some blog postings on how/why to create good blog postings.
      So how do you see yourself using blogs in your future teaching/training careers?

      Vlogging Challenge

      If you are interested in taking the challenge, explore this posting, How to Create a Free Video Blog (or "Vlog") by Gretchen Siegchrist.  Don't think that she is a certified teacher, but she provides a series of steps with a plethora of resources.  Spend some time and challenge yourself to take the next step.

      The only tricky part in inserting a video into your blog is EMBEDDING it so that it will play like my video above.  The easiest way to do this is to upload it to YouTube and they will then give you the HTML code that you would insert into the HTML code of your blog posting.  If this sounds like GREEK to you, then ask a friend (or classmate) or search on the web or ask Dr. Z.

      Let's Hear from You!!

      Respond to this experience in Blogging.  Insert Comments below to add your ideas and suggestions.  Make this a 2-way process.  You won't be graded for your comments but this is a wonderful way to build our community. 
      • How do you use blogs?  
      • Which blogs to you like to follow?  
      • What suggestions do you have for using blogs in an educational situation? 
      • Have you already posted this on your blog?  Insert a link to your blog so we can read it and learn more about you.

      Thursday, August 24, 2017

      Module #1 - The Introduction

      Welcome to your RWLD.  
      The RWLD is a resource page that includes an assortment of Readings, Watchings, Listenings and Doings. This multimedia approach is designed to improve the learning experience in multiple ways:
      • Z-Generation students (ages 6 - 20) think best using multiple forms of input. The RWLD approach provides a variety of forms of information.
      • Even older learners enjoy differing ways to absorb information. RWLDs address differentiated learning needs as well.
      Your assignments will be found in the eLearning website.  They may be mentioned in the RWLD, but the real instructions are on each of the assignment sheets.

      This week you will complete a number of surveys and inventories as well as creating a media-ography about yourself where you are introducing yourself to your colleagues.  After you have posted your intro, you will respond to some of your colleagues' introductions.  As noted earlier, the specifics of these assignments are not here.
        Watch these videos. They will hopefully provide some interesting perspectives on emerging technology throughout the ages.