Clearly one of the main focuses of COETAIL is the building and maintaining of the PLN – Professional Learning Network and the dramatic change in scope that technology provides. My PLN is both passive and active. I regularly visit my RSS feed. I like Tweetdeck to help me search for EdTech articles or for areas that I am interested in like #coding or #VR. I simply add a column that searches and creates a stream based on the hashtag search key. There is no shortage of great content – actually, the tricky part is determining what is useful and what is not, separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak.
The more active connections I make with my network is far more valuable and important. It starts with my local network, my colleagues at AIS-R. I work with great people, who have great ideas that help me improve my practice as a teacher and coach. It is also great to have the other members of this AIS-R COETAIL cohort available to collaborate on projects and share ideas. For example, I am working with Mavis Wellington on our final project for this course and I completed the Eduro Design Thinking Course with Tara Ogle. We collaborated on a great project through that course. A great PLN helps you to learn and grow and supports you when you leave your comfort zone to try something different. AIdefinitelyinately a great school for this.
As a tech coach, I am lucky to be able to work with my fellow COETAILer Sean Walmsley who is the ES Technology Integration Coach. As anyone who knows him will tell you he is a wealth of information and ideas. I think that we work well together to share and bounce ideas off of each other. We even completed our Google Certified Educator Part 1 together earlier this year. On top of that, we co-moderated a NESA (Near East Region Schools Association) Twitter Chat earlier in the school year. The title of the chat was Redefining Technology to Redefine Education. I have been involved in a number of Twitter Chats this year. Twitter chats are a great way to reach out to people near and far, to share ideas and experiences in the classroom and in education in general. The bi-weekly NESA chats bring teachers from the region together for a discussion on a multitude of topics. Our teachers have been very active in participating in these as they are an option on our Professional Learning and Growth Model. In fact, COETAIL got a nice shoutout or two in the Professional Development that works – NESA Chat. There were a number of COETAILers in on the chat that day.
I have also been using Google+ more effectively this year. Of all the Social Media platforms I always felt that Google+ had the most potential but that it turned out to be the most disappointing. Maybe it was because I didn’t know how to use it or that there just weren’t many other people using it. I have started to use it a little more frequently and I am seeing some value in it. I am a member of the Hapara users group, The New Google Sites group and the Apps Scripts for Educators – Builders and Users group to name just a few. I am also part of a NESA collaborative for Tech Leaders. The mandate of the group is to recommend speakers for the NESA Leadership, Spring Educators as well as Fall and Winter Institutes. Members in the group are in the United Arab Emirates, India, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.We use Google+ as a way to communicate with each other.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the hidden gem of my PLN – the students! If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t know anything about Minecraft! As a tech coach I always learn from the students, they are the early adopters and up and coming superstar geeks that keep me as much in the know as I can be. I have had occasion to work with classes and engage in a back and forth discussion about how the tools we use in our school were working out for them. They also told me about the platforms, apps and applications that they were using inside and outside of the classroom. It is hard to keep up with the rapid pace of change in technology and it is important to tap into all demographics to get multiple perspectives and best practices.