With this course being my last course toward my M.E.T. in Educational Technology (well, except the Portfolio course), I have mixed feelings: excited about the accomplishment, on the one hand, yet, sad as I am about to say "goodbye" to an inspiring group of educators and innovators! Luckily, though, I can stay connected with each and every person through my PLN, and that’s what this course was all about! Well, there was much more.
First of all, as I am scrolling down my Blog page, it’s easy to see how far I have come. Less than 8 weeks ago, going to Facebook to post a homework assignment felt “weird” and “uncomfortable”, which I then attributed to my “good job disciplining myself and separating social media from my professional life.” It was amazingly easy, however, to get used to such practice, and after a very short while, posting a homework assignment on Facebook felt no differently that posting it in Moodle. In addition, I had to re-join Twitter (I deactivated my first account as I could see no use for it.) This time, it was different; not that I have mastered it, but I now know what to look for! I cannot underestimate the value of Twitter and Tweetchat in building and expanding one’s PLN and an ability to immediately share resources or receive information on a variety of events (from real time and live webinars to discussions and announcements, to name a few.) Finally, I am now ready to start using social media as an instructional strategy; for sure it will be a trial and error, but I feel quite equipped to go for it!
The second module introduced me to TwitterDeck, and my first reaction was “Wow! It’s like drinking from a fire hose!” However, there are ways to manage that enormous stream of information: hashtags! Just like I described in my blog post “It’s all about hashtags”, I was able to identify and create my own network centered around my professional interests. I can now follow and share news, articles, and events specifically related to #educhat, #edtechchat, #edutech, #eslteaching, #tesol, and #ielts (to name a few.) Again, while I still think it will take some time to get used to and to become a more efficient Twitter user, I greatly appreciate the exposure.
The next module was about managing digital footprint and building digital identity. While I was quite satisfied to discover that I was on a right path as far as my digital footprint, this assignment was beneficial as it helped shape or reinforced several strategies for my online presence:1) manage and be ever mindful of the time spent online; 2) become an active producer, rather than simply a consumer, of the digital content, and 3) exercise patience, yet consistency (yes, it takes time to build an online presence and yes, it takes time to build a network. Yet, a “step at a time” approach will still work!) The toughest point will be to break the old habit, but being aware of and making a plan for action is one big step in the right direction.
My another discovery was about “content curation”, and I just loved it. Working as a team and creating our own list of criteria for content curation was a great experience. Not to mention, the outcome - my own curated topic via ScoopIt (an awesome tool for digital curation) will surely last well beyond this course. I love my collection and am happy to see that other online users find it useful as well (it was rescoopedIt by others.) As I mentioned in my blog post, that module did not just push me to do what I had always wanted to, rather, it equipped me with the vision and tools that I was missing!
Moving on to the module on Personal Learning Environment or PLE: just to think of the power of one’s networks! Looking at my own diagramm, I think having all these resources at my fingertips (literally!) is simply amazing. With the Internet, the sky’s the limit; all one needs to do is to see and go for the opportunity.
The purpose of the next module was to expand our vision of professional development and take advantage of what is available and attend conferences without leaving the house! Moreover, not only was I able to attend highly informative sessions and expand my knowledge but also to participate, make my own contributions, as well as connect with many professionals in the field by adding them to my PLN. All from my own room! I am certainly going to continue with this practice of attending PD session and building my PLN even though the course is over.
Finally, the highlight of the session was my first attempt (at this point) of integrating social media (Facebook) into my teaching and using it as instructional strategy. Certainly, I am at the beginning of a long journey, yet, sometimes the first step is half the journey! Furthermore, I found the assignment on developing my own social media classroom policy especially insightful and useful as it enabled me to outline and visualize my own (as a teacher) as well as my students’ guidelines and responsibilities as far as using social media in the teaching and learning process, not to mention it raised my awareness and helped me look at the process more objectively.
To sum up, there is no doubt that this course positively affected not only my teaching and learning, but also how I perceive and especially use the Internet and online resources as part of my personal and professional life. It certainly expanded my vision and equipped me to be a more efficient teacher and learner. I look forward to the next semester so that I can implement a few new practices. and my only regret is that it was over too soon!