Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Just Thinking Outloud.

My resolution for this year is to really start using this blog as a tool for reflection and global networking with like minded educators - gosh that all sounds a bit high brow - LOL! As I prepare my presentation for our cluster conference next week, I have been reflecting on the growth I have made in my knowledge and understanding of the ICT tools available, the language/terminology I have added to my mental dictionary, the skills I have gained and the people I have connected with since April 07.
In April last year I decided on a new personal motto "Do something that scares you". This was an important turning point for me as I can be shy and I tend to over think situations which means that at times I avoid/ miss out on opportunities because of my own fears and insecurities. I have explored ICT possibilities for most of my teaching career and have included ICT as a tool in my class in some form or other since I began teaching about 15 years ago (Now I do feel old). In my personal life I have used MSN, email, google... all the usual stuff I have belonged to a few teacher list serves over the years. So that's the back ground.

Back to April 07 - I'm a scrapbooker in my spare time and decided I wanted to find out if there were any online forums in NZ for scrapbookers to connect through. A google search led me to SBO, where I found and connected with many like minded others. I chat with these ladies regularly and have developed some online friendships. At the bottom of some of their posts many of the SBO ladies had sig tags that included their blog links. I had heard of blogs before, but had never really explored them. Clicking on these links resulted in my next step forward - I began my own blog. This blog was a place where I could share my scrapbooking pages, burble about my daily life and link to other blogs I enjoyed. I became more confident and started commenting on other people's blogs - this meant that people started to comment on mine and a few more friendships were created. I learnt the html code to create hyper links using key words within my posts and started to discover the world of widgets, some of which I added to my own blog. Visiting other people's blogs I would come across things I hadn't seen before and my knowledge of web tools and toys increased.

Fast forward to the September/October school holidays... I had the opportunity to attend ULearn 07
in Auckland. This conference was an amazing experience for me and accelerated my personal and professional growth considerably. I was exposed to the thought provoking ideas presented by Ewan McIntosh- I was excited to discover that he, like me, had issues with the labels of "digital native" and "digital immigrant" - descriptions I had always felt were simplistic and gross generalisations, especially when I was told I was an immigrant because of my age and yet the definition of "native" behaviours fitted me more closely, particularly given my unusual exposure for a child of the 70s/80s, to a wide range of technology from the time I was born, thanks to my electrical engineer/Ham radio operating father. Derek Wenmoth kept asking "Are you blogging this?" and said that people had been "Twittering" and blogging about Ewan's presentation - he even mentioned that some people were being "Skyped in". I sat there and thought - ok so blogging I get, they're blogging this right now? Wow! - What does he mean about "twittering"? - Isn't "skype" that video phone that David has? and my thoughts were spinning. Never mind that I had a head full of thoughts and questions from Ewan's presentation - plus I badly wanted a Nintendo DS and the "Brain Training" software to go with it - lol!
At morning tea time I noticed signs about the "Blogger's Cafe'" - I knew that I was a blogger, but I didn't blog about school stuff, unfortunately my shyness kept me away for the whole conference - I kept thinking maybe I should go over and see what it's about, but I kept chickening out. I am kicking myself now that's for sure. I attended my breakouts for the day and just felt challenged and inspired - Tony Ryan
as my first break out definitely helped with this. I went home that night - buzzing and blogged about my day - just a little bit. After the second day I was so excited by all the stuff I was hearing - I googled twitter
and signed up straight away - I only had Ewan to follow but it was a start. I also got really brave and left a comment on his blog. From his blog I followed a link to another NZ teacher's blog from a comment they'd left, which led to another blog, and another and so on. I was collecting a blog roll full of teacher blogs - people who thought the way I did and who were as passionate about ICT as I was. I was so inspired I started adding to my blog again - at which point I decided I needed a separate blog for teacher stuff - and so this blog was created.

Since then it has positively spiralled - I have made contacts, connections and friendships via Twitter, been inspired by other amazing teachers. I have discovered, podcasting, Web 2.0, tiny url, Flickr, QuestAtlantis , Voicethread, Ustream.TV, RSS, Bloglines, TeacherTube , Technospudsand so much more. I think what has really amazed me is just what is out there and how educators all over the world are putting it to use. To be able to ask a question via Twitter and get an almost instant response has been fantastic. I have learnt so much from all my online contacts and can really appreciate how technology helps to make the world a smaller place. It is so exciting to be part of a global community of educators all sharing ideas and collaborating and it has provided me with regular, ongoing professional development.

1 comment:

  1. Your New Year's resolution has started off really well.

    Do something that scares you- well I have really done that with this ICT facilitators job!!!!

    The possibilities are endless. I was thinking myself that my learning network only began at the beginning of 2007 with an introduction to Sheryl Nussbaum -Beach at the TUANZ conference.

    At some stage you take a blind leap of faith and leap into the network and hope that it is as useful as people say it is.

    I have found it to be encouraging, worthwhile, supportive and challenging.

    We continue to learn and grow together.

    Allanah K