Community Engagement

Community Connections

Over the course of the last few months I have really tried to make a conscious effort to seek out collaborative and connecting opportunities.  I have tried to do this through twitter as I find it easiest to use and the network I have developed is fairly strong on this platform.  I really wanted to highlight my twitter activity as of late so I have implemented a recipe from IFTTT (If This, Than That) which allowed me to aggregate my twitter mentions and showcases the conversations I have been having between fellow COETAILers, and others, in lead up to our final project and other educators on twitter.

I recently connected with Brian Jackson at ISB Bangkok and our DT classes are looking to share some ideas and examples of what we’ve been up to.  We have also asked Brian’s class to be consultants for our Middle Schoolers as they experience the Design Thinking Cycle.  Its incredible what can happen when you open yourself and your classroom up to others.  I suppose this takes a level of risk taking and a growth mindset, but I hope my experiences might spur others at my school.

Below is again an example of how I used IFTTT to manage tweets that I was favouriting.  I know that Twitter does this as a list automatically but I also wanted to track my activity via this google app.

Attempted Connections

I attempted to connect via Google+ but felt that Twitter was a more manageable platform for me.  I think as a father, a husband, a teacher, an artist, and son I needed to decide on one application and stick to it.  Likewise I wanted to spend time cultivating my PLN on Twitter and thus focused my attentions there.  This being said – I did end up joining the Google Educators Group in the UAE and will actually be presenting to this group about my COETAIL final project on May 2nd.

Google Educators Group UAE Community
Google Educators Group UAE Community

I also posted on the Coetail Course 5 Project board set up by Vivian looking for other participants in our quad but in the end didn’t get any real response and ultimately chose to go with educators from ASD Dubai whom I spoke to face to face.

My attempts at connecting via Google +
My attempts at connecting via Google +

Relying on Old Faithful

When Twitter didn’t do the trick, my fellow group mates and I of course resorted to connecting via Google Docs and good ol fashioned email. The docs we created were shared and edited collaboratively (see other post on my final project for the examples) and we were able to of course connect within these two forms easily and often.

43 Back and Forths between our collaborative quad
43 Back and Forths between our collaborative quad

A really cool attempt by our group to connect was through Google Hangouts. I must sadly say that only on one occasion did we manage to get 3 of us involved in a group call but our attempts at a Google Hangout may have been hampered by my school’s administrative settings. In speaking with the tech department and legitimising my needs my access has recently been changed and I hope we can get a Hangout on Air working soon.

Reflecting on my community involvement I realize the importance of sustained connection through conversation, sharing, and exploring. I recently added the idea of starting our Art Department meetings with a 5 minute twitter search revolving around key hashtags pertinent to our Fine and Performing Arts Department. Not everyone in my group is on twitter and I got some pretty interesting looks from some teachers, but when I shared with them the power of a PLN via twitter I think that many interests were piqued.

Scrolling through the tweets from IFTTT – I really get a sense of my last three months of activity. I see what I was sharing, who was interested in it and how far my ideas as a connected educator were reaching. This is pretty powerful stuff and I even showed it to my Curriculum Co-ordinator who subsequently joined twitter – feel free to follow her – @lisaemborsky  Looking at what I have been tweeting and my nodes of connection also showcase for me an incredible wealth of professional growth and recognition of outstanding opportunities.  It really is incredible how connecting can lead to collaborating, which can lead to a changed pedagogical approach!

The Future

I noticed on Vivian’s Coetail Google + community that there will be a chat about “Life after COETAIL”.  This really got me thinking.  What will happen after COETAIL as a course I take is over?  In the words of Reid Wilson’s infographic back from Course 3 – “Coetail is more than a course it is a way of life” – my PLN is developing everyday, my students feel the impact of my learning, my thoughts on teaching and learning have changed drastically.  Whats incredible is that all of this started by attending Learning 2 back in Singapore in 2013.  Who knew the path it would set for me.  Now the path is wide open and it is my turn to push myself along it.  I am ready and willing to continue to challenge myself in this journey of teaching and learning and I know I will have my community right there along the way with me.  Nicki, Anne, and everyone – although we are far away physically – we are only ever a tweet away.

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