(I wrote this blog post on the plane home from the ISTE 2013 conference in San Antonio. I wanted to give myself some time to reflect on it and add some additional resources before posting it.)
ISTE 2013 was a tech-filled extravaganza and I left with my head spinning with new thoughts and ideas! However, looking back, I realize the best part of the conference for me was the conversations I had with educators from all over the world. I was greeted by so many who knew me from my work, and I used that connection to continue the conversations with them.
I learned about district-level initiatives and projects for first graders. I discussed the merits of tablet platforms, 1-to-1, and badging. I offered opinions about items I was passionate about. As an ISTE Board Member, I also had some perks, like being able to wander in and out of ticketed workshops to both thank the presenters and learn new things at the same time. In Ginger Lewman’s PBL workshop, I became a member of a PBL group and made an iMovie traileron the iPad with three other educators in under thirty minutes. None of us knew how to use the software, but were able to get the job done. Take a look if you wish: https://vimeo.com/68951420
Continuing the conversation with colleagues after a face-to-face conference is not difficult. There are many ways to keep up with your new contacts, get answers to questions, and offer your own thoughts. Collaboration comes from the Latin word collaborare which means “to work together” and you want to make sure that happens!
Working together in a virtual space can be synchronous or asynchronous. Even asynchronous conversations allow us to work together. There are popular tools for each of these methods readily available.
Twitter is my go-to place for both sharing and getting new ideas. It is surprising how much you can impart to others with only 140 characters! Here are some of my top Twitter tips….
- If you follow a lot of people, your Twitter stream can quickly become overwhelming! It is a good practice to make lists and file the people you follow into those lists. They will still show up in your main Twitter stream, but sometimes it is easier to click on a classified list of people and read “like” information in a single stream. This makes it more likely that you will add to the conversation, too, since you are more likely to come up with a resource or tip to share if you are reading information on a related topic or by perusing your list of school administrators, teacher librarians, etc.
- To find new people to follow and collaborate with, look at the lists created by others or whom they follow. You can grab one of their lists for yourself, and, after monitoring it for a while, can find new people who you want to follow.
- If you are not a Twitter user, take a look at the Twitter advanced search page (https://twitter.com/search-advanced) and search popular hashtags like #edchat or #iste2013 to see all the tweets tagged with that hashtag. Hashtags help tweets hang together when tweeters include them in their posts. Here is a page (http://www.cybraryman.com/edhashtags.html) with tons of popular educational hashtags. Another cool new site is TagBoard (http://tagboard.com/) which both allows you to view tweets tied to hashtags, as well as create a hashtag of your own to monitor and share.
- Oftentimes, when sharing URLs via Twitter, the URL itself uses up many of the 140 characters. To allow yourself more space to add information, use a URL shortener. A URL shortener allows you to paste a long URL into a box, and it presents you with a shortened version to use. When users click on the shortened URL, their browser is re-directed to the actual URL. I use the Linkyy (http://linkyy.com) URL shortener. One nice feature of Linkyy is the ability to create a meaningful short URL, like http://linkyy.com/ipad, which leads to one of my iPad support pages.
Some other social networks to use for collaboration with others include Google+ (http://plus.google.com), Edmodo (http://edmodo.com), and EdWeb (http://edweb.net). Each of these tools allows you to create your own community on a topic you are interested in or passionate about. Once you create a community, tweet out the information to your followers and they will come!
Google+ Hangouts is one of my favorite places to meet and share things with other educators in real-time. A Google Hangout allows you and up to nine others to have a meeting with all participants having both video and voice. It is easy to share your computer screen or other assets (like a YouTube video) with others in the Hangout. One interesting aspect of Google+ Hangouts is that it is “noise activated”. This means whoever is talking is showing up as the main speaker and the others as smaller.
However, this also means, if a participant is typing loudly, they will show up as the main speaker most of the time. Be sure to use a headset/microphone combo or keep your mic shut off when you are not speaking. This makes the Hangout go much more smoothly.http://www.flickr.com/photos/ekai/5885688948/
If you want to record the Hangout, chose to make it a Google Hangout on Air. This publicly broadcasts to anyone who wants to watch the Hangout, too. Once the Hangout on Air is complete, the recording is sent to the your YouTube account for future viewing. You can make the recording public or private, allow embedding or not, and assign a Creative Commons license to the work if you wish.
I will be hosting a Google Hangout on Air on September 16, 2013 at 7pm ET. The Webinar will be in conjunction with the Wilkes/Discovery Instructional Media Master’s program. The topic of the 30-minute conversation will be two upcoming MOOC’s that Wilkes will be offering to educators. (If you are on the DEN mailing list, you will receive further info about it soon.)
Some other popular ways to synchronously collaborate with one or more colleagues are via FaceTime for the Mac/iPad and Skype (http://skype.com), which works on all platforms. And Padlet (http://padlet.com) and Today’s Meet (http://todaysmeet.com) allow real-time, text-based idea sharing that can be archived and shared when the conversation is complete.
The main point is to continue the conversation by whatever means works best for you. Email, Facebook/LinkedIn posts, and phone calls can work, too. And be sure to make arrangements with your new colleague to meet up again in-person at the next ISTE or other conference you both attend. I have found that hugging is so much better in person!
Do you have additional methods/tools/apps you utilize to continue the conversation after meeting other interesting educators? Share your thoughts in the comments!