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Online Networking

for

Educators

(and students!)







One of the best things you can do professionally these days is join an online network for educators. There are heaps and heaps out there full of teachers who are interested in working collaboratively or simply just wanting to learn from each other.

Educational social networks work just the same as a regular social network - you sign up, you have a profile page, you can see other members, add them as friends, add photos and videos to the site, leave comments on each others pages. This is the sort of environment that our students are very familiar with, so you might consider creating a collaborative project around a social network. You could even work at creating an ongoing social networking project for students in Victoria or anywhere who are studying the same target language - for example students studying Japanese could join the same network and share their work - whether or not they are working on the same topic. There are still many important conversations that can happen around leaning language - how it's going, strategies that work, feedback on projects - that doesn't necessarily involve all students doing 'sports' or 'weather' at the same time.





IDEAS FOR USING A SOCIAL NETWORK AS A PROJECT
Because social networks have many functions built in you could
  • use them for student portfolios - they could keep a record of their language learning in blogs posts and images etc and comment on other students whether they be physical or virtual classmates
  • students could write blog posts on specific topics that relate to the overall project and comment on each others
  • students could add slideshows of images of something they are passionate about


PLACES TO BUILD SOCIAL NETWORKS


Here are some other suggestions which comes from this article - which also includes a comparison chart which is very handy.



NETWORKS FOR TEACHERS

Here is a list of networks for teachers who are interested in technology, sharing and collaboration. Join up, and find some discussions that you can contribute to. Look at other members' profiles and maybe leave a comment or two. People LOVE getting comments, so don't be shy.

technoLanguages
Classroom 2.0
The Global Education Collaborative
Teachers Connecting
Smartboard Revolution

The following list comes from Carolyn Foote, a teacher librarian in Austin, Texas. You can find her blog here: http://futura.edublogs.org/
Epals
Global School Project
Iearn
Taking It Global (for students)
Online Projects 4 teachers (Jen Wagner)

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Classroom 2.0 is a great place to start. Each member creates their own profile page and can easily make connections with other teachers by reading other profiles and joining discussion groups. Classroom 2.0 is only one example of the Ning networks that are out there for teachers to explore. Participants will leave not only with some ideas for collaborative projects, but the knowledge of how and where to contact partner schools that would be interested in working with them.
Classroom collaboration is a really powerful way of getting some more authentic learning into your classroom. As part of my technoLOTE podcast, I have interviewed myself about ‘Classroom Collaboration the Ning Way.’ You can listen to it by going to the Podcast page here on technoLOTE. Collaborating with other classrooms can provide some great projects that students are really engaged in.
One great project that I have been part of is Voices of The World, which involves a new task for classes to complete each month. The aim of the project is to join children together with their voices.
I have started a project this term called The International Lunch Box Project which is a language learning project for Grades Prep to 3. The aim is for students to learn how to say what they are eating for lunch in a second language and record and present their efforts.
You may say that that is all very well and good, but where do I find people to work with? How on earth am I going to find a teacher in Turkey who wants to share photos of her kids’ lunch boxes with me?

Classroom 2.0 is a social networking site for educators interested in just about anything. On Classroom 2.0 you can
  • Set up your own profile page. This page includes a photo of you, a place for you to write a blog, post other photos, videos and audio files. It shows the groups and discussions you are part of on CR 2.0. Your profile page is a great place to set up your own little ‘base’ on the internet. Check out my profile page on Classroom 2.0.
  • Join groups of teachers who are interested in the same things you are. You can find different groups on the Groups page. Just search for a topic that interests you. I am a member of the following groups on Classroom 2.0: technoLanguages, Teaching China and Chinese, Video in the Classroom, Second Life and Distance Collaborations.
  • Start your own group or groups - I started technoLanguages and Teaching China and Chinese.
  • Join in discussions on many different educational topics by going to the Forums page. You can also search conversations by topic. These are listed down the right hand side of every page on the CR 2.0 network. You can browse conversations by tool, by subject or by area.
  • Start your own conversations. You can do this by going to the ‘My Discussions’ section of your profile page which is on the left hand side under your photo, and clicking ‘Start New Discussion’ or look for ‘Start New Discussion’ on the top right hand side of the Forums page.
  • You can browse photos and that members have posted by checking out the Photos and Videos pages
  • You can invite people to become members of Classroom 2.0 by clicking on the Invite page and choosing how you will invite people.
Classroom 2.0 is a GREAT way to find teachers all over the world who are interested in similar things to you and who are interested in making contact with teachers and classrooms all over the world. People join Classroom 2.0 because they want to make contact with others, so never be too shy to
  • add your thoughts to a discussion
  • write a comment on a profile of someone you would like to get to know a bit better
  • write a blog post about what you are doing in your classroom, or about your thoughts on anything in particular
  • add your own photos and comment on other people’s
Classroom 2.0 is not the only education network out there. Classroom 2.0 is a Ning network - this means that it is built on the Ning platform. You can tell that because it has ‘ning’ in the address for the website - http://classroom20.ning.com. Any website you see that has .ning.com is a network that will work in the same way that Classroom 2.0 does. There are HUNDREDS of Ning networks out there created for all different interests. Some teachers have even set up ‘nings’ for their students to use. You can change the privacy settings on a ning so that people who want to join have to be approved by the network owner.
Some other Ning networks for educators that I am part of and think are worth checking out are:
Creating An Online Learning Community
The Global Education Collaborative
The EFL Classroom
The SMARTBoard Revolution
Second Classroom
Another site you might be interested in is this wiki, which is called Social Networking 4 Teachers. This site has got lots of good explanations and information about what social networking is and how it can be effective.
It is also worth checking out Kim Cofino’s blog post ‘A Step by Step Guide to Global Collaborations,’ which has some great tips for setting up a collaborative project.
The great thing about social networking for teachers is that it’s not just about working together. Classroom 2.0 is a fantastic place to ask someone for help when trying out a new Web 2.0 tool, or asking for feedback on something, or offering help and feedback. Just because you join does not mean you HAVE to be part of all these different projects.

ADD YOUR LINKS HERE


Do you know of any other networks that teachers might be interested in? Please add you links here.

To add a link, click the Edit button in the top right hand corner, then type your text. Highlight it then click on the 'Link' button on the toolbar. Follow the prompts then click save. If you have any trouble, you can contact me and I'll add it for you if you like.








Image: 'Une représentation de mon réseau social dans+Facebook' from www.flickr.com/photos/49503019876@N01/1659321885