Friday, June 28, 2013

Easy Summer Professional Development using Social Networking

It’s summer! We are all exhausted and perhaps we have already begun enjoying the carefree days that summer brings. Some of us have plans to travel with family and friends. Others may relish in the fact of staying home and re-organizing a room here, a room there and maybe even organizing other aspects of their life that require time and reflection. Yes, summer brings us time that we have already accounted for and as we all know too well, it will fly by before we know it!

As educators, we all know that education is an ever-changing field and we must do everything we can to stay on top of it. Ignoring it for 2-3 months will not help anyone, particularly our students. Professional development may be part of our intended summer plans but do we have the energy to go and sit in a classroom or start an online course that lasts the whole summer? Do we have the financial ability and flexibility to fly out to an educational conference over the summer? How can we keep up with trends, updated curriculum, innovating lesson plans, educational technology etc. without having to be tied down and losing our much needed summer vacation? The key is using social networking for your professional development. It’s quick, easy and mobile. You can use it to learn, reflect and share at your leisure and in the process expand your personal learning network and meet educators with similar interests and positions. And of course, all of these social networking options are iPad apps so you can PD wherever you go this summer! Here are some of my favorite and easy ways I try to learn from other educators and experts in education.

A content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images, videos and other objects to their pinboard. It’s similar to other social networking sites but it;s very visual and easy to follow.

Instantly connect to what's most important to you. Follow your friends and experts. Connect with a group of people with similar professional interests with a twitter hashtag. You will notice that some have specific “meeting” times to discuss interesting topics and trends.
Here are some popular education hashtags on Twitter:
#jedchat – Jewish Education
#edchat – General Education
#ipadchat - iPads in Education
#edtech – Technology in Education
Here is a Twitter Guide for Educators to help you get started.

Blogs are a great way to increase your personal learning network by reading other educator blogs and reflections. Some blogs are a part of a collection of many blogs in one field. For example, Edutopia is a K-12 Educators blog site which offers a great Summer Professional Development Blog Series. Adam Bellow’s EduTecher is the complete reference and resource for educational technology web tools. Kathy Schrock’s Blog is a helpful place for in classroom technology ideas. Don’t forget Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers and Sylvia Tolisano’s Langwitches blog.
Try writing your own blog this summer! You can start out with your family vacation and them get comfortable enough to move to a professional blog. Try Google’s Blogger app!  

Another easy way to increase your professional development this summer is to check out any virtual conferences and webinars online from the comfort of your own home. Any way you do it, learn something new, get excited about it, share with your fellow educators and try it in your classroom this fall!!