Friday, October 31, 2014


Last night I took part in the #edchatnz meets #aussieEd twitter chat.  The questions were all based around collaboration and I actually found them quite challenging to respond to because of the many facets they could be applied to.  It was the second to last question that provoked quite a lot of response from my fellow educators:

It was debated whether Twitter was simply the "fire to spark collaboration" and to make connections rather than the place to fully collaborate and be critical. Then this response got me really thinking:

And to be honest I have been thinking about this all day. The key word for me in Karen's tweet was the word respected.

I have mainly been thinking about this in the context of collaboration within schools. How many of us have a lot of choice about who we are paired with? Do you get to work alongside the person you respect or do you get put with someone who isn't really that interested in collaborating?

If we truly want to collaborate for positive change and critical reflection then I think it is essential that we choose our learning partners. May they be internal or external, there is room for both. I want to be able to bounce ideas off someone I know will ask questions and give feedback but also keep the momentum going not pop the balloon.

I am very lucky to have been selected to join the Virtual Learning Professional Development Programme (VLPD) for 2015. I get to be matched with a mentor and meet a whole lot of educators who, like me, want to collaborate. I hope that this becomes a place for me to discuss those "crunchy issues" and really push myself and my practice.

As for collaboration, out of a twitter discussion and a face to face meet up at ULearn, #WellyEd  has been born. The idea is for us to have our own connected educators network here in Wellington.  Again, another chance for collaboration.

Lots of exciting possibilities in my future...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Being connected

Connected Educator Month has been a smorgasbord of professional development goodness.  It has been an important event to get more people connected but it is also a great time for someone such as myself to reflect on what it means to be a connected educator.

Approximately 3 years ago I realised that my Twitter account had more potential than just being a newsfeed of culture.  Teachers were using Twitter to share ideas and connect with each other.

It seemed that teachers on Twitter were talking about the future of education.  I was able to keep up with current trends in education just by following the right people.  And by the right people I mean connected educators, for being on Twitter is an instant indication of someone who is interested and passionate about education.

I used a Evernote to store tweets and other resources. I was building up a bank of resources that I would some day need to use. Then one day, 12th July 2012 to be exact, I made contact.  I found this stored in my Evernote file. It's a conversation about a stylus with Allanah King and Anne Kenneally, both amazing educators that I continue to connect with.

And it's been full steam from there on.  Teaching tweets but also those tweets about life that connect you in other ways.  Including the #feijoafrenzy of 2013 where I introduced a whole bunch of educators to the delights of roasted whole feijoas including the lovely @mrs_hyde who then "live tweeted" the roasting.

Twitter has allowed me to follow multiple conferences without being there, be connected to information that is current and most importantly develop my #PLN (professional learning network).  Over the past 3 years I have met quite a few of these people face to face.  This in itself has been amazing.

So for me, being connected is about putting yourself out there and seeing what happens.  You have to invest your time and commitment but the reward is ten fold. Being connected means that I am never a lone nut, there is always someone "out there" to bounce some ideas off or gain inspiration from.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ulearn 101 - how to make the most out of your ULearn experience

After waiting over 2 years to go to Ulearn I am pleased to say that it was worth the wait. What an amazing opportunity to connect and collaborate with other teachers.  I am going to have to unpack my learning and aspirations over several blog posts as the amount of learning I am processing right now is actually quite phenomenal.  I thought I might start with a list for new players:

1. Start connecting now.  You don't have to wait until you get to go to ULearn to connect and engage with leading educators.  Twitter is full of them.  You can create your PLN (personal learning network) so easily from your living room.

2. Core Education made a wonderful effort to provide live streaming of the ULearn conference and you can watch those breakout sessions now on their YouTube channel.  There is even one about twitter for beginners (see point 1).

3.This month (October) is Connected Educators Month.  But even if you are reading this and it's past October you can still make use of this google doc "Starter Kete" to help you engage with the digital world.

4.There are several other amazing groups and events including TeachMeetNZ, Google Educators group, Educamp, and Eduignite.

Oh, so you realise that my list hasn't actually "arrived" at ULearn yet... that's because this groundwork helps make the ULearn experience much more enjoyable and rewarding.  You'll see why in the second part of the list:

5.  So before you go to ULearn you have to pre-book your breakout sessions.  My bit of advice on this part is to do your research.  Who are the presenters? Are they connected educators themselves?  I trawled through Twitter researching mine and I am pleased to say that I made excellent choices.

6. Sign up for the Twitter dinner.  I have heard a rumour that the lovely Danielle Myburgh is organising next years one.

7. When you get there, make yourself known.  Add your twitter handle to your name badge.  Tweet where you are.  Introduce yourself to people that you have only interacted with online. Be brave - your Twitter PLN family will soon be your new real life friends.

8. Go to the Twitter dinner/Google Educators drinks or any other additional social functions.  It is a great way to meet people with similar interests or to find out that one of your twitter friends also happens to live 100m from your house.

9. Tweet your thoughts.  This is a great form of note-taking as you can retweet and add to others thoughts too.  Then when you get back home you can relive the experience by using Storify to collate your own tweets and that of others.  Make sure you hashtag everything.

10. And last but not least remember when you get back to your school and things get hard and your suddenly not around those people that "just get it" that you still have your twitter PLN.  Be connected and keep being inspired.