Tag Archives: Social Media Week

Thursday’s Tip: Supporting Self-Directedness

Self-Directed – “Directed or guided by oneself, especially as an independent agent”

When you think about it, we all want to be self-directed.  We want the ability and freedom to guide ourselves; to make choices based on a sound thought process, and the independence to tailor learning, thinking, and life to our own style and needs.   Being teachers, we also strive to achieve that same ability and desire in our students.  We want them to be self-directed with their thoughts, learning, and life.  Our biggest obstacle is: How do we achieve self-directedness in ourselves and our students?  As we first focus on ourselves for this post, there are several ways to move towards becoming self-directed.  With summer here, we can take some time and explore possible avenues to help meet that goal.


We might consider the development of our own Personal Learning Network (PLN) through blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.  We can choose the ones that allow us to develop skills, learn about new technologies, explore teaching strategies, see a variety of perspectives, and learn about educational issues affecting not only ourselves but the world.  A variety of tools and media allows us to develop a PLN that fits our individual learning styles as well as connect to the global education community where we can gain and share new learning.

Another way to move towards becoming a self-directed individual is through the organization of our thought process.  We have discussed in previous posts ways to reflect and plan.  We can implement these skills in almost any situation and in everything we do.  We can ask ourselves questions to develop a plan, and then once the event is over, reflect on ways to continue or improve what we did. This can include the setting of goals and monitoring the follow through of those goals.   As we take these pieces of planning and reflecting and internalize the process, we move ourselves closer to becoming a more self-directed person.

So some questions that could support you in becoming more self-directed that you might want to consider are:

  • What goals might you have for yourself in becoming self-directed?
  • What might be some strategies you can use to develop your ability to be self-directed?
  • What learning styles and preferences in yourself do you need to consider in becoming self-directed?

Taking the steps in becoming more self-directed may seem small but can have a powerful impact on how we approach and handle life.  As the Australian song reminds us – “From little things, big things grow” – Paul Kelly

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

mathplourde (Photographer). (2007). My PLN Banner. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathplourde/4618916837/

Friday 4ALL: A Diamond in the Sea of Social Networks

We can learn so much from each other and social networks are just the place for that to happen.  Finding the really good and beneficial ones can often be quite the job.
One social network that provides so much information and support is Classroom 2.0. This is a network dedicated to social media among educators.  Just visiting it and joining will provide you with a wealth of information but a part that I think is absolutely fantastic are the weekly webinars or Classroom 2.0 LIVE.  These webinars are on a variety of topics like web 2.0 tools, classroom strategies, ideas for communicating with parents; just to name a few.  They are conducted through Elluminate, a great tool in itself. The site provides a list of links for the webinar so you can access anything mentioned.
Sounds great, right? The greatness doesn’t stop there.  They also have…. ta-da, archived recordings of past webinars. (Such a great idea!)  Think of all those times you can’t make a webinar but really want the information.  It also contains follow up reading or viewing suggestions.  This is like the crown jewel of all social networks for me.  I hope you will enjoy it as well.
Terri Brines is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.
To see what else eMINTS is doing with social networking, check out our groups on Facebook and Linked-In. Also, follow me on Twitter at @Zac_eMINTS. -Zac

Thursday’s Tip: Top-10 Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom

Created at Wordle.

For this week’s tip, we’re bringing you a list of top-10 ways you can use social media in your classroom.

10. Social bookmarks like Delicious (still around), EverNote, and Diigo are great ways for groups of students researching a topic to gather and organize their resources. You can set up an account for an entire class, a small group, or one for individuals who share and follow their peers’ research.

9. As mentioned earlier this week, there are many new uses for YouTube (and other social video sharing sites like Vimeo). Channels can be created. Response videos and creative annotation and tagging can add another interactive level to the video sharing process.

8. Google Reader (H/T Brooke Higgins) can be a great way for teachers and students to follow particular resources as well as share in a community. A teacher can create a bundle of important resources to which he wants his students to subscribe. There is also the share feature where students and teachers could share interesting articles or blog posts they find in their own readings. The comment and search functions can also come in handy with Google Reader.

7. The new Groups on Facebook make it even easier to communicate with students and parents without having to give up privacy via friending. There are many more privacy safeguards for the new Groups, but there are also several new features that make Groups more community-friendly. Now, when comments are made on the new Groups’ walls, that same content shows up on every member’s feed and sends a notification. This insures that every member sees all the wall posts. Also, there is a group chat that allows more than one participant at a time, great for online class discussion. Documents, pictures, videos, links, and events can all be managed in one place.

6. Teachers and schools often complain about the cost of out-dated textbooks that don’t match student needs as closely as they should or are limiting in their scope. A great way to combat this is to write our own textbooks using wikis. Not only could a wiki be used to display a teacher’s notes, but there are multimedia capabilities as well as commenting options. Even better, students can be involved in writing their own textbooks. A wiki-created text could be revised and edited from year to year without the cost of a new textbook series eating up valuable space in a school’s budget since wikis are often free or very cheap for premium, ad-free packages. Oh, and there’s a wiki out there with directions for writing a textbook.

3.-5. Google Docs provide several great options for collaborative classroom work. Here are three:

  • Google Docs has its own presentation feature, much like PowerPoint. In fact PPT files can be uploaded to Google Docs and converted to an online presentation. Students working from different computers or locations can easily contribute to the same presentation. When presented to the class, students can chat during the presentation and the discussion shows up on a side panel.
  • Collaborative writing has never been easier than with Google Docs. Using the word processing feature, students can contribute to the same document, insert comments, chat about the direction of the document, and access older drafts. Plus, the document can easily be converted to a PDF or website.
  • Data collection and online tests quizzes are easier now with the addition of Google Forms to the Docs suite. A form can be set up to gather any data (surveys, quizzes, blog submissions ;) ) and it’s all gathered in a tidy spreadsheet that can be easily converted to charts and graphs. Plus, multiple users can gain access to the results, as with any Google Doc.

2. Photo sharing sites such as Picasa and Flickr offer great opportunities not only for sharing and commenting on one another’s images, but also several other useful features. Tagging and/or annotation images is a great way to demonstrate understanding and to encourage contributions. Both offer some editing features and allow video uploads.

1. Blogs. Well, what else would you expect from a blog? Blogs are a tremendously underused social media tool. Collaborative writing, online publishing, interactivity between readers and writers, easy to manipulate HTML code with multiple options for embedding media… The possibilities for blogs is endless. Plus, blogs can be used alongside many of the tools already mentioned above.

How do you use social media in your classroom? Feel free to comment below or link back to this post.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD Links: Social Media

It’s Social Media Week here at Networked Teaching & Learning. All week long, we’re bringing you resources and ideas for bringing social media into your schools. Today, we focus on some resource links that can help make that happen.

One of the major obstacles for improving social media use in our schools is the lack of information out there about what social media is and what are the tools we can use. Edudemic provides the “Ultimate Teachers Guide to Social Media” in the form of an easy to read and navigate e-book. All the major tools are covered as well as resources for getting the most out of social media in your classroom.

Another obstacle is providing the right argument for social media’s use in our schools. Teach Paperless makes the case using the human voice as a metaphor for social media. How can students learn without their voice? The same can be asked of 21st century learners.

A second argument is made over at Mashable where adman Josh Rose demonstrates how social media is bringing back the old-fashioned values of our grandparents. Because of social media, we know about each other and are part of a more-informed community. That sounds like a great way to build community within a classroom and online.

Some teachers are leery of using social media sites such as Facebook with our private lives suddenly becoming public. Students also need to be aware of this change in society due to the public nature of social media. Mashable has ten suggestions for keeping one’s Facebook account as private as possible.

Of course, Facebook isn’t the only online forum about which we should be concerned. Bobbi L. Newman, a.k.a. Librarian By Day, has a fantastic post on monitoring one’s personal brand. This is is important for both teachers and students. Controlling your online brand can market you as a leader in education or at least eliminate the chances that online content meant to be private becomes very public.

If you’re looking for a tool to manage all this social media (aside from your web browser), look no further than TweetDeck. TweetDeck allows users to monitor multiple accounts on various social networking sites. I use TweetDeck to manage several Twitter accounts, my Facebook account, and several groups and pages also on Facebook. There are several versions of Tweetdeck available for desktops, handheld devices (including smart phones), as well as a Chrome plugin. For an example of how TweetDeck can be used in the classroom, check out this video of a college course where Twitter and TweetDeck are utilized to take classroom conversation to another level.

Hopefully, these links will help you see the value of social media in our schools. What are some ways you are using social media to enhance teaching and learning at your school?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: YouTube & VuSafe

YouTube logo

One popular tool of social media that is often blocked in schools is YouTube. The advertisements and comments accompanying some of the videos are not always school-appropriate. However, YouTube (and its ilk) are loaded with educational possibilities.

Now there’s a tool to bypass the less school-friendly aspects of YouTube: VuSafe. VuSafe is a tool for finding, collecting, organizing, and sharing online videos. Administrators can set up school accounts and control which videos are acceptable. VuSafe also allows teachers to share educational videos with students in a safe environment using a password they create.

Then, once you’re done setting up VuSafe in your school, upload your own videos. Here are some interesting ways to use handheld video cameras in the classroom. Once the videos are shot, upload them to YouTube. Then, try creating an interactive YouTube video using YoutTube’s annotation feature.

What are some ways you use YoutTube in your classroom?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. Hat tip to Candace Lindsey of eLearning.