In creating this post, I wanted to think back to the journey I’ve been on during my time with COETAIL in developing my online presence and my PLN. Back at the very beginning in February, 2019, I posted “Less is More” advocating for quality over quantity in terms of the number of people one connects with on Twitter. I kind of laugh at this point because my mindset has shifted. I think I’m managing my professional social media presence better through things like Tweetdeck and Twitter lists. I’ve also shifted my focused from other platforms like LinkedIn and decided to focus on Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is more for talking shop with other teachers, my professional Facebook account is more for maintaining relationships with others international folks I’ve met during my career.
It’s also been helpful to shift to a new school that has several highly active Twitter users (@Sean4D, @MsKHogg, @Diskonon4no, amongst others). Being in a community of people that want to use Twitter has been great because it has provided several role models for me in terms of how Twitter can be used in positive ways.
Below are a few of the ways that I have had prolonged and sustained activity online and attempted to expand my PLN online.
First, I have been engaging in more and more Twitter chats. My first Twitter chat was a few years ago in Saigon with some of the folks from SSIS for PubPD. Since then, I have been trying to participate in as many as possible (given the time zone differences!)
#TLAPdownunder. This was a Twitter chat that my fellow online 11 cohort member, Ryan Persaud, introduced me to… he was the host! It was a great way to connect with Australian educators who are in a similar time zone to East Asia, but have a different cultural context. I was quoted in Karen Caswell’s Wakelet after this chat too! Cool!
#TLAPdownunder A1 – I have a feeling that a lot of teachers are going to start using a flipped or blended approach after this. All of this time on Zoom is forcing people to try new approaches. I hope to ride this wave of tech integration into next year with my teachers.— Alex McMillan 🌍 (@MrAlexEdTech) April 5, 2020
#MasteryChat. This was a chat that I stumbled across as one does when using Twitter. 🙂 It was primarily North American teachers that I connected with and shared some ideas and resource about campus closure since we had been closed for a few weeks earlier here in Asia.
A5 Using my strengths with data and spreadsheets to help the admin create whole school systems to monitor and track students online. It’s been surprisingly helpful to prevent kids from slipping through the cracks and making online learning more successful. #MasteryChat— Alex McMillan 🌍 (@MrAlexEdTech) March 27, 2020
#AppleEDUChat. I felt fortunate to join this Twitter chat the other day and connect with John Burns who was leading the chat. He was the keynote speaker at the Vietnam Tech Conference back in 2017 at which point we had met but hadn’t had a lot of time to connect.
A7: I wish we had taught all our kids to use Calendar and Reminders before starting. Kids need help with executive functioning skills! #AppleEDUchat— Alex McMillan 🌍 (@MrAlexEdTech) April 6, 2020
Connecting with Brands. I’ve enjoyed finding ways to connect with brands like Google, Zoom, Mentimeter, and Flipgrid. I realized that not only do they update their Twitter accounts as microblogs with news and updates about their products (especially helpful when there’s a problem), but they also make new product announcements. Using Twitter as a means to connect with brands whenever I have a question has also been extremely helpful.
Hey @Flipgrid something I noticed is that there are a lot of kids’ faces on social media showing the cool things teachers do. But in terms of children’s privacy, I wonder if your team might include some facial recognition feature that covers the kids’ faces so we can share.— Alex McMillan 🌍 (@MrAlexEdTech) February 20, 2020
Engaging Colleagues on campus. I’ve been finding that there are so many great ideas on Twitter and my colleagues and I like to mention one another to quickly share great ideas rather than sending another email. This really helps me to keep ideas for teaching consolidated to one place. I really like it!
Engaging Colleagues in PD. Twitter is helpful at helping me to meet new educators at PD events by using the event hashtag; I’ve enjoyed being able to see photos and make new friends! Here is an example from the KORKOS event earlier this school year.
Engaging Wider Community.
Connecting with influencers. one of my favorite memories over the last year was sharing a post on what I’ve been reading and Jennifer Gonzalez from Cult of Pedagogy liked it! #lifegoals
Day2 #12daystwitter: my favorite podcast is definitely @cultofpedagogy! My fav educational books are “Hattie’s Visible Learning” and Garmston & Costa’s “Cognitive Coaching”! How about yours @levi_allison42 @Sean4d @FreemanMei123 @RyanPersaud23 @MsReyna2? #VSAHKG @Intl_Chadwick pic.twitter.com/f2muTtL8W3— Alex McMillan 🌍 (@MrAlexEdTech) December 3, 2019
COETAIL Community Involvement
Campus Closure Call. One of the ways our community has been staying in touch and supporting each other way was with a Zoom call. Matt Broughton had the great idea for all of us to get together and discuss ways we’ve been dealing with campus closures.
Sustained connection with Ryan and Reyna. Two colleagues that I have really connected with have been Ryan and Reyna. They’ve both been very supportive. I have found that whenever I have a question or request, they both reply to me quickly and are willing to provide resources from their schools. I’ve really appreciated both of them immensely!
EdTechLens Podcast. During the COVID-19 campus closures happening around the world, it has provided an opportunity for me to work on my podcast. It’s been a lot of fun to make new episodes and try to set up a studio at home. It’s had some technical glitches, but it seems to be getting ironed out! I’ve been trying to engage different people in my PLN with my podcast including Cathy Berger Kaye, Justin Ouellette, Mr. Erdogan, and more.
Supporting others. I had the opportunity to appear on a podcast about podcasts with one of the GoSynth.com members.
I’ve been playing with a few other ideas lately to further create community during this challenging time of COVID-19. One idea I had was to create a Zoom call or YouTube stream in which a “chef” shows us how to cook a recipe. We could get the recipe ahead of time and follow along at home and even eat it together. I’ve been trying this idea out with a chef I know in Italy and a group of friends. So far we’ve made a couple of dishes and had a lot of fun. The idea being that we could have after school clubs still take place if we just have a little ingenuity in how we approach them. These sorts of fun things have a social element to them and could bring any audience together.
Another idea I’ve been playing with is creating a “Chadwick TV” channel on YouTube which live streams podcasts and also celebrates people’s great ideas on how to teach effectively during this challenging time. My thoughts are that this would be a fun way to see ideas that could inspire one another without making people have to work hard by reading through another email or document. People are busy and overwhelmed, so something fun and light that’s shared as an all-hands meeting with the head of school once a week could be fun and build community within our school.
I think over this last year+ I have been really focusing on the idea of building upon my PLN and my online presence. I think my initial reluctance back in Course 1 came from the data and privacy leaks that were happening with Facebook and I had the desire to pull back from my online presence in hopes of managing my data. But I think what it looks like for me is to still be online, but just use the tools for specific audiences. When I started thinking about Twitter as a tool to stay in touch with other educators and share ideas/materials, it became a whole lot overwhelming. I think I had a “Facebook” mentality about using Twitter, that is, I thought I had to follow all the minutia happening in each person’s life which is really not the case. That’s where curation and things like Tweet Deck became quite helpful.
I hope that over the next year I can continue to grow my online presence and connect with more peers. This last year has been a great journey! I’ve moved from 200 followers to 800!