Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube…there are so many different social networks that it might be tough to decide which is best for professional networking. I tend to believe that networking happens best face to face instead of online. I've only been teaching for six years and have only had two jobs, but both of them have been connected to people who I didn't know directly, but someone close to me knew. Networking, to me, has deeper significance when it happens in person. If someone were to say to me, "I know someone who could be a guest speaker in your PE class," I would be a lot less inclined to invite them to come than I would be if I actually met the person and was then told, "This person can be a guest speaker in your class."
If I were to choose an online networking site to represent me professionally, I would definitely choose LinkedIn. I think that Facebook and Twitter are too informal and social, and shows some pointless information when it comes to being professional (for example, saying what kind of TV shows or books I like). I'm not super familiar with Google+, and I don't post videos on YouTube at all, much less related to my profession. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is set up with the intention of networking professionally, so it automatically eliminates some of the possible distractions that other sites offer.
I recently read an article about the use of Wikis in education by Scott Sailor titled, "I Thought Wikis Were Creatures in Star Wars!" In the article, Sailor explains what wikis are and how they can be used in an educational realm. I think a useful way to take advantage of a wiki page would be to have an idea or discussion board that all of the PE teachers in the school district have access to. It would be a great way to collaborate without having to coordinate schedules and meet in the same place at the same time. The secondary teachers meet together once a year, but we never meet with the elementary teachers, so having a wiki page would be a low-key opportunity to initiate conversation and ideas.
This year, many of the teachers at my school received iPads to use in our classes. I was lucky enough to get one, and am surprised at how much I use it. Lately, with the discovery of new apps like Skitch, Moldiv and Evernote, I have been using my iPad a lot! What I have been using it for mostly is to document my lessons. (Sadly, I accidentally deleted almost all of my pictures when I thought I was organizing them into albums, so I don't have an example to upload right now.) For example, I did stations for cardio and took pictures of each station. Then I took all 7 pictures and made them into a collage using Moldiv. In Skitch I took the collage and added a caption so that I could remember what it was for. Another time I took pictures of a yoga routine from Yoga Journal magazine and then in Skitch I made some changes to the routine and added a caption. Then in Evernote, I printed them out for my sub.
I think if I had a classroom set of iPads I'd be able to do a lot more with them. Evernote Peek, for example, would be an awesome way to do vocabulary words in Spanish, or a brief quiz in PE. But since I only have one, it isn't as conducive to classroom learning, and ends up being more of a handy tool for me. I haven't had much luck finding a PE specific app that I like. I downloaded PE Games, but it seems more elementary-focused vs secondary. There are a lot of yoga and Pilates apps, and I've used Kristin McGee a little bit, but nothing that I love.
LinkedIn is yet another social media site that I have avoided until being required to join it for my Technology in Kinesiology class. I wasn't interested in LinkedIn because I had heard it described as a "professional version of Facebook," and that concept didn't strike me as fun. After signing up about 20 minutes ago, I would say that that statement is true. From my brief interaction with LinkedIn (besides deleting email requests to join for the past few years), it seems to be a networking site, connecting people to each other with the purpose of job seeking. Some similarities between Facebook and LinkedIn include: a newsfeed-style page, suggestions of who you may know on LinkedIn, and a messaging system. The major difference seems to be the emphasis on the job market, skills, endorsing people you know to help them find jobs, and making connections for more of a professional purpose than social.
I think that if I were in the job market, LinkedIn could be a good source for making connections after I had an initial start, but it wouldn't be the first place I started. I think that who you know does make a difference when applying for jobs. While I want to believe that I was hired for both of my teaching positions because of my skill as a teacher, but I did have a connection to at least one person at each school when I applied, and I am quite sure that played a larger part than I like to admit in getting the job. Here is the link to my profile.
Reading a few articles about podcasting in education reminded me of the term "Flipped Classroom." The concept of a flipped classroom is that students do the learning at home via the internet (watching videos or listening to podcasts), and then the homework in class where they can get help on assignments. I think this idea has some really great qualities. One aspect is that students can re-listen to the explanation of the topic without being worried about what the rest of the class thinks, or slowing down the rest of the class if they didn't get it the first time. I remember struggling with pre-calc in high school and a friend who went to a different school showed me a website that his pre-calc teacher had made with little video explanations and examples of specific math problems. It even had the answers, so I could make sure I was practicing correctly. I owe passing that class to those videos, which, at the time, were a novelty.
I think that podcasts definitely have a place in education, and as long as they don't get overused, they can be a great resource. Ideally, I would like to assign students to listen to podcasts for homework, but I don't feel that I can do that without isolating students without access to internet. I know that it's more uncommon than common these days to not have internet at home, but the school district I teach in has 70% free and reduced lunch students, including many refugees who don't have access to internet.
I am always impressed when people can explain something without words, or when communication can occur without people knowing the same language. This video does a great job explaining the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 without any words at all - not even typed words. Essentially, Web 1.0 was designed for individual users to go to websites that they liked and entertain themselves. Web 2.0, on the other hand, was designed for users to interact with and entertain each other. Instead of the consumer needing to seek out information, the information is able to come to them.
This infographic lays out the evolution of online learning pretty clearly. The University of Phoenix went from having 12 students enrolled online in 1989 to now having over 500,000 students. I like Web 2.0 quite a bit for personal use, and when it comes to education, even though I can do SO much more now than I could 5 years ago, I still feel like I have a long way to go in order to really use it efficiently. Technology changes so quickly that it is hard to keep up. I'm kind of hoping it will plateau a little bit so that I can become familiar with even a small amount of what is available. There are some really great tools that I use for my Spanish classes, but I would like to explore more deeply the options I have for using Web 2.0 in my PE classes.
I use Blogilates in my classes a LOT. I take Cassey's workouts and modify them for my classes. This is a workout I did last week for Cardio Wednesday. Instead of 50 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, I had my students do 40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, then 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest for the second round. I did this workout for 5 classes and I was incredibly sore the next day.
There is a LOT of stuff on the internet. Things to distract you and things to help keep you on task. The Big List of Online Productivity Tools is a list of apps and websites designed to help organize your life. While this list is a great idea, I was surprised at how many of the sites are now defunct. I couldn't find a date when the list was published, but the comment section has comments that are mostly from 8 years ago. While that explains the several non-working sites, I was also impressed with the number of start-ups that didn't succeed, or moved on to bigger and better things.
I really like to-do lists, so I was delighted that there were so many tools to choose from for making to-do lists. Remember the Milk stood out to me as one I might use due to its easy to read format and ability to work with Google Calendars, which I already use. I signed up for it, so we'll see if I actually use it! Another one I think could be useful in my PE classes is bubbl.us. I think it could be a creative way for students to demonstrate knowledge of the benefits of exercise vs. the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Then they could email it to me.
One website that was not listed was Songza. It's similar to Pandora, but you can choose playlists based on mood and activity, in addition to genre and decade. I use it often in my PE classes to play in the background or as a timer (ie. when the music stops, it's time to rotate).
There's always a top list for everything, but this was the first time I'd seen the Top 100 Tools for Learning. I've only used 15 of the top 30, which tells me a) that I stick with what I know, and b) that I don't know very much. I'm guessing if I were to continue counting, my ratio would remain about the same for the whole list. I was surprised that Twitter was the number one tool for learning, as I consider Twitter to be more social than anything else, although that's also one of the tools that I've only used one time. In reading the brief descriptions, PowToon caught my eye so I opened an account and sort of tried it out. I think it could be pretty neat, and definitely have my students' attention, but it also seemed time consuming to make. So if I use it, I think it would be for something that I would use frequently, without needing to make a lot of changes to, like going over the syllabus, perhaps.
I've used Facebook since 2005, so I considered myself very familiar with it. However, until I was required to create a Facebook fan page for a class I'm taking (Technology in Kinesiology), I never ever considered using Facebook in my PE classes. The only time I've ever used Facebook in class at all was when I was teaching a Living Skills class and the unit was on internet safety/cyber-bullying/online etiquette. Anyway, I was reluctant to make myself accessible on Facebook to my students, but since I can do it behind the mask of CHS Yoga & Pilates instead of my real name, I am feeling a little better about it.
I told my classes about my new page, because I figured if I was going to make it, I might as well make it useful, and they were surprisingly receptive to the idea. I still need to make it more appealing, but I think it could be useful for a couple of reasons. I don't do a lot of pencil-paper assignments in class, and the vast majority of the learning is done by participating, so having an easy place to post visual reminders and resources about upcoming events is great. The other reason I think it could be useful is because I plan to post links to various things we do in class, so when the time comes for them to create their own yoga or Pilates routines, they can use the Facebook page as a resource page because they aren't allowed to take my books and magazines home.