Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Module #3 - Social Networking in Education

Getting Into the Blog-o-sphere
You have already entered the blog-o-sphere by beginning to follow some bloggers.  What did you learn?  What comments did you leave on the bloggers' postings?  Did you get any responses back from anyone? 

Now that you have reviewed the postings of accomplished bloggers, what do you think?  Was it useful? How could you make blogging useful to you?

It is time for you to create your own blog-o-sphere identity. You will begin by creating a blog and then begin to share your ideas, experiences and resources. In the past we have said that blogging involves Reading, Commenting, and Writing/Creating.  You have already had the opportunity to read and comment.  Let's hope that you continue with this enthusiasm as you embark on your blog writing/creating experience.

Writing is the key to it all. This is where you can share your ideas with world. It is where you have to confront your thoughts. I once had a professor (Dr. David Moursund) who told me that he didn't know how he felt about a topic until he had written about it. Writing requires you to organize your ideas so that you can express them in a clear and cogent manner.
1. First thing you must do is create a blog. We use Google's Blogger as the standard because it is quick and easy, but you can use whichever blog you would like. Just remember that it needs to be accessible to the world.

Here is a 2-minute video on how you can create your first Blogger account. 

2. Your blog will be enhanced if you add a few gadgets to it. I would suggest that you add: 1) Subscribe to (allows others to subscribe to your blog); 2) Labels (lists the labels you have added to your postings); and 3) Stats (shows how frequently people visit your website.)  Here is a video that will show you how to add these three gadgets to your blog.  

3) Now that you have the easel, it is time for you to share your ideas.  This is where you get to reflect upon the blogs you have been reading for the past couple of weeks.  Here are some things that I want you to review:
  • Review the names of the blogs you have been reading.
  • Explain what each of them discusses?  
  • Have you found them to be as interesting as you expected?  Why?
  • Have you found a common theme between them?  Is there a general reason why you selected them?
  • What have you found to be the attributes of these blogs that have been effective in making them interesting and useful?
REMEMBER!!!  This is NOT in an enclosed eLearning discussion group that ONLY Dr. Z will read.  It is in the public. All of your classmates will be reading it. People in the public may read it.  DON'T write it like you are answering this writing prompts on a test.  Write it in a manner that will interest your colleagues.

You MUST read all of your classmates' postings and thoughtfully respond to them by the end of the module. 

What to write?  Sometimes it's tough to find what to write.  The MOST important part of blogging is to be PASSIONATE about what you write.  Here is a list of ideas for writing prompts but get creative!!!

Once you have an idea, here are some hints for making effective postings.  You may have found some other ideas about what makes a posting interesting.
  • Begin with an active title. (i.e., Making Your Blog Postings More Interesting; 5 Ways to Extend Your Summer Vacation; How Blogs Changed the Writing Process in my 10th Grade English Class; or ????)
  • Include an image or photo of some sort.  You can find a wealth of photos you can use (as long as you cite them as I have done below) at Flickr/CreativeCommons  (
  • Always include at least 2 links to something relevant on the web. This means that when you discuss the Dr. Z Reflects and Clif's Notes blogs, you must have links to those websites so that your reader can examine them.  It is similar to the APA citations you have to do in your research papers, only it is MUCH easier to include. Include links to your classmates postings.  Build community.
  • Your postings must have depth and that is more than can be captured on the single page.  Writing a post can be a small research project that will provide readers a deeper understanding of the topic.  This depth is provided by the additional links you provide your readers.
  • End your postings with questions to elicit responses from your readers.
Here are some blog postings on how/why to create good blog postings.
So how do you see yourself using blogs in your future teaching/training careers?

Twitter and TweetDeck 
Twitter is an important form of communication.  It seems to be used more in the professional world (Facebook fills that person niche for social networking.) Instead of making this page unduly long, I have created a Blogger Page and dedicated it to Twittering. This is a new capability of Blogger. The nice thing about this is that I don't have to deal with it as a dynamic blog post.  It is also available for linking from anywhere on the Web in case you want to use it in another form.  Only limitation is that you can only have 10 of these pages per blog.
Go to the Twitter Page and then come back here to see what needs to be done.

Create these columns in TweetDeck:
  1. Create a column that will follow our list of class twitter-ers: eitF2011
  2. Create a column that will follow the hashtag: #UNI_IT
  3. CHALLENGE: Create a column that will follow tweets about a specific area of interest to you. I am not going to tell you how to do this. You need to search the web or twitter or YouTube to find out how to do this.
RSS and Your Personal Learning Network
Another problem with seemingly endless amount of information on the web is trying to get to it.  Each time you want to read the blogs you have selected, you have to click on the bookmark you have created and then go to the blog to see if there are any new postings. Sometimes there aren't.  WHAT A PAIN!!!!!

Wouldn't it be easier if we could just subscribe to these blogs so that they would come to us like a magazine in the mail?  Well folks, we CAN!!!!  We use the magic of RSS.  RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication (RSS).

Wondering about RSS?
Read What the Heck IS RSS?  - (a 2-page description on CopyBlogger)

Watch RSS in Plain English - (a 3-minute video on YouTube)

RSS allows us to be connected to the world. Think how this could change the structure of education. Here is video explaining how a teacher and students used RSS to create a student-centric learning environment.

The Networked Student -  a video that tells a true story about how a student used a Personal Learning Network (PLN) to develop a network of resources for his learning.

Beginning Your iGoogle/Personal Learning Network
Now that you have seen what's possible with a well-developed personal learning network, it's time for you to create your own. There are many programs used to collect resources through RSS.  These are called aggregators because they aggregate RSS feeds.

Teachers create PLNs to organize resources for themselves and ultimately their students. Art Titzel, an 8th grade American Cultures teacher, explains in his blog how he created and maintains his PLN. How I Built My Personal Learning Network (PLN)

For this class, we will use Feedly.  iGoogle and Google Reader were discontinued in November, 2012. Below is an introduction to creating your own Feedly-based PLN.

Feedly: A Good Replacement for Google Reader - a 4-minute introduction created by professor Barbara Schroeder for her students. This is especially useful because she tells you about how you can use Feedly to read and respond to your classmates' postings.

Blogs You Need to Subscribe to:
  1. Classmates' Blogs - Go to our Student Contact wiki and find the links to your classmates' blog. (You might also see them in the right column of this page, depending upon how quick Dr. Z is in posting the links.) Use the subscribe buttons on their blogs to subscribe to them through iGoogle.  These blogs need to be in the blog tab that you just created.
  2. Professional Blogs - You have been following blogs. Link to them so that you can keep up on them.
A video explaining how you can add your classmates' blog (or any blog) to Feedly so that you can read them all in one place.
Read the Blogs:
  1. Read Your Classmates' Blogs - You are expected to read ALL of your classmates' and comment on them. Check your PLN every day. Keep up on this.
    1. How to Comment Like a King (or Queen)
  2. Read the Professional Blogs - Keep up on these blogs as well. You will expand your connections as you comment and reply to these bloggers.
TweetDeck and Feedly are personal systems that only you can review.  This doesn't mean that you shouldn't complete this assignment.  You WILL be held accountable.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Module #2 - Distributed Learning Communities

Distributed Learning Communities
You are entering a distributed learning community. Distributed learning environments are often separated by distance.  More importantly, the dynamics of a successful distributed learning community will be on the students. It will emphasize building a community of learners where individuals work collaboratively with their group members rather than competitively. Students can be experts and are acknowledged as such. It is a community where individuals work for the betterment of the group.

A learning community is a group of learners who actively demonstrate 4 characteristics:
    1. Diversity of expertise; 
    2. Shared objective of advancing the collective knowledge;
    3. Learning how to learn; and 
    4. Mechanisms for sharing what is learned.

Dr. Christopher Dede of Harvard University wrote about how distributed learning communities can be supported/enhanced through emerging technologies. Read the following two articles and consider how this model relates to your past and present educational experiences: 
Web 2.0 Tools  

The interactive nature of Web 2.0 tools facilitates interaction between people. The Internet has flattened the playing field between people and nations of the world. No longer is geography a limiting factor for human and professional interaction. X-rays taken in Bangor, Maine, can be read by a doctor in San Diego, California. A customer support call from Las Crusas, New Mexico, is answered by a specialist in Manila, Philippines.

The educational opportunities have been expanded as well. Ninth grade Spanish students in Pleasant Plains, Illinois will practice the language as they Skype with high school English students in Aguas Dulces, Uruguay. A third grade student in Des Moines can work weekly with a tutor in Bangalore, India. Our ethnocentric world will never be the same.
While you are reading, consider these following points. These questions are similar to the basis for the reflecting you will do in the Discussion section of this module:
    • How is the Distributed Learning Community scenario different from your present/past educational experience.
    • Will these learning environments fit your learning needs? How about those of your present/future students?
    • Consider specific instances that would demonstrate your ideas.
      Communicating through Social Media.
      Social Media is one of the most important emerging technologies today. Not really emerging if you consider how it has taken the world by storm. YouTube and Hulu are becoming replacements for network television. Governments are being overthrown in the middle east by civilians armed with nothing more than Twitter and Facebook. Newspapers are closing down because information is so accessible through blogs and online sources.

      Social media is important in education as well. While the transition seems to be slower than many would like to see, using social media to build connections between teachers, students and the world is happening throughout our schools. 


      Blogging is the tool that has done a great deal to democratize information and communication. No longer do we need to have our own printing press to share our ideas with others. It is as easy as 1-2-3 (see Blogger) to hang out your publishing shingle and get into the business of writing for the public.

      Let's see what a blog is and what it can be:
      Before you can blog, you need to know what composes a blog. You need to have background in reading blogs in your area of interest. You need to see how postings are usually more interesting if they have been well researched and provide a variety of links that will help the reader explore further into the topic. You need to become an active member of the Blogosphere. You will be reading blogs this module and begin to write your own blog in module 2.

      Working with blogs during this course will involve Reading, Commenting, and Writing/Creating. 


      1. Follow at least 2 of these professional blogs over the rest of the semester.
      2. Read at least 1 blog in a personal area of interest.  Use the Google Blog Search ( to find someone who writes about what you enjoy. This search will provide you with postings, but usually the blogs that hold the postings are in your area of interest. 

      Commenting is important if you are going to be an involved part of the Blogosphere. Your comments give a blogger an indication that someone is reading her/his work. That gives a sense of mission. Interestingly enough, bloggers will often respond to your comments either directly or in an future posting.
      Useful comments are much more than just a quick reaction to a posting. They can build the basis for an ongoing discussion. They can add additional content to the discussion. They can  . . . tell you what, I don't want to make a huge list here. Why don't you jump over the Vicki Davis's CoolCatTeacher blog and read her posting, How to Comment like a King (or Queen)Comment on her blog using her guidelines. Say something about being in our EIT class. We will be working with her later on in the semester.

      This week we are commenting on other people's blogs. Soon we will begin writing our own blogs.

      Twittering (#eitF13)

      Another thing that we will be doing this week is signing up for Twitter.   This will be a way that we can follow each other as well as follow any comments that apply specifically to our Emerging Instructional Technologies (EIT - You will see me using EIT to refer to our class.)

      Twitter in Plain English video - Short video that provides an intro to Twitter.  "Plain English" videos are simple, low tech videos by Lee LeFever. They are what you should watch if you want to learn about anything from Twitter to Blogging to RSS to US Government to Zombies.  You can find them in YouTube by searching for "Plain English"

      Getting Started with Twitter - 5-minute video about how to sign up for Twitter. Good tutorial.

      User Name Advice: 
      Before you sign up for Twitter, consider this when selecting your screen name. Twitter is usually used for more professional activities. You should use a username that you will use for ALL of your places on the social media network.  This should be a professional name that will easily identify you.  
      • DON'T use one with long numbers or cute sayings: jbrown714456 or funnyguy3933
      • DO use something with your name if possible  zeitz, leighzeitz, leigh.zeitz, vvrotny
      1. Join Twitter.  Go to the Twitter homepage and sign up (
      2. Follow Dr. Z. Once you are signed in, go to   Click on the Follow button so that you can follow my tweets. I will follow you back, so you will know that you have at least one follower.
      3. Tell us Your Twitter Name. Go to our Student Contact page on our wiki where you will post your twitter name.
        Read about Guy Kawasaki's 10 Steps to Terrific Twittering by Lauren McKay.  Consider how you could use this in your professional life.  You don't need to just use it with your students. Twitter can be a powerful personal professional development tool that will open you to the world. (Optional Reading: the Edutopia posting, Twittering, Not Frittering: Professional Development in 140 Characters)

        You can follow people using Twitter. This is useful if you want to know about a person, but what if you want to know about a topic?  Twitter has something called a Hashtag for that.

        We are interested in hashtags that have to do with education, but here is a link to the Top 7 #Hashtags of 2011  It's not surprising that #7 was SuperBowl but did you know that #1 was Egypt?

        ASSIGNMENT:  I know that I said all assignments would be part of the module, but this is a small one and I didn't want to waste a whole assignment page on it.

        This week, you need to Tweet at least 5 times about realizations you have had from our class, the MPP class or life itself.   You MUST include the hashtag: #EITF13
        You can search for #EITF13 to follow what other students are saying.

        Hope this has been useful.


        Leave your comments below. Click on the Comments word and then add your ideas.