The more I have been involved using social media helping to create incredible opportunities for myself and our students, the more I have seen the value. Many comments however regard the amount of time it takes to do this and that it is not possible to fit something into their day.
As an educator, I empathize with the amount educators work to create authentic learning opportunities for their students and definitely do not want to add to their plate. You do not have to blog daily to create some great connections with people and learn from others. Having a Personal Learning Network is a fantastic opportunity for teachers but according to George Siemens, we have to do much more than lurk:
Being connected, without creating and contributing, is a self-focused, self-centered state. I’ve ranted about this before, but there is never a good time to be a lurker. Lurking=taking. The concept of legitimate peripheral participation sounds very nice, but is actually negative. Even when we are newcomers in a network or community, we should be creating and sharing our growing understanding.
To get started sharing and being able to shift your practice, here are some easy ways I suggest sharing your learning with others:
- Create a Twitter account. This is a fantastic way to start building your PLN and gives you access to a ton of resources that will save you time in the long run. Instead of recreating the wheel, you will find many great activities for your students that you will simply need to tweak for your kids. What takes longer? Tweaking or creating from scratch? Exactly Click here for a list of educators you can follow.
- Bit.ly sidebar. Do you read good articles? Of course you do. Download the bit.ly sidebar and connect it with your Twitter account and you can share articles in an instant. (Just so you know, I suggest you only share articles that you think are worth sharing. Don’t share everything!) For a tutorial on how to use this tool, here is a short video on how to do this.
- Use Diigo. Diigo is my favourite social bookmarking tool because it is easy to collect and share your information. This is another time saver because it saves your bookmarks wherever you go! No more emailing links back and forth to computers. It is also nice for creating a repository of links on a certain subject that you can share with only one link. For example, here is my list of iPad apps for educators (that I actually asked for instead of searching for on my own. Sound like a time saver?). It also has a “Twitter this” button so you can bookmark and tweet links at the same time.
- Use Google Apps. Do you ever write great lessons or units? Instead of using Microsoft Word, why not use Google Docs so it can be shared easily with others. You do not get all of the fancy formatting that you do with Word but people rarely use most Word to its full capacity anyway. As another time saving tip, when I need feedback from staff, I ask them to fill out short surveys using Google Forms instead of them sending email after email of information. There is one form where everything is compiled for me. Another fantastic time saver.
The initial set up for these applications does take a little effort (I estimate that you can easily set all of this up in under an hour), but the amount of time you will save in the long run will be beneficial. Not only are all of these applications easy to use, but they making sharing easier as well. The more we share, the better opportunities we will be able to create for our students.