As my COETAIL journey is coming to an end, I can only reflect about what an enriching and enlightening process each and every course has been. It has been a truly formative process for me as an educator and it has been a pleasure to collaborate with members of both the Online 9 and Online 10 cohorts.
This, of course, is only the beginning. As I build my professional PLN to encompass a wider and wider community of engaging educators, I can only see a bright future in terms of ideas, discussions and working with an increasingly global community.
Making the below video has been a challenging, but rewarding experience. I feel as though I have learnt a great deal just from making the video itself and I definitely have a sense of pride in sharing it with the world.
As you will see in the video, I introduced a brand new, stand-alone Unit of Work for the students in my class at Kellett School, Hong Kong. It was all based around the core understandings of empathy and kindness, and how these concepts relate to the digital activities of blogging but also the entire process of staying safe when online.
In the future, I look forward to introducing the Unit to the other Year 4 class in my school and also seeing where my students take their global link up, with a school in Taipei, Taiwan on http://www.empatico.org
Lastly, the important next steps for this topic will be to place the students in charge of their learning to a much greater extent. This was certainly achieved during this topic, by allowing an increased choice of digital tools and when the children were introduced to their new friends in Taipei, but I am considering that when I deliver this Unit of Work again, I may well introduce a problem based approach.
The entire aim of this would be for the children to apply their ideas with a greater sense of independence and also to make the link to how we do sometimes (a lot of the time) come across users of blogs, etc, who do not communicate with kindness or empathy. Currently my ideas include where such a problem based approach could feature an imaginary participant on the blog who makes basic errors or acts in an unkind way, so that the children can then independently discover solutions to the problems encountered using their understanding of empathic action or word choices. They would also be tasked with advising the imaginary participant, but still with kindness and empathy.
This will all be for next time and I look forward to developing the Unit further. For now though, that is enough from me so please do take a look at my video and let me know what you think!
The essential and underlying feature of the COETAIL courses is collaboration with other professionals and growth of an engaging and useful PLN. It is very much what the programme is built around and becoming a more active participant in the connected community out there has absolutely been transformative for me as a modern educator.
Throughout my time in both the Online 9 and Online 10 cohorts, I feel that I have moved from a passive ‘lurker’ to a far more engaged and active communicator in the world out there. Each and every new interaction has been useful for me, or of some use to others. Gone are the days when I would simply ‘like’ or ‘retweet’ on Twitter without comment, and I now see such value in truly making use and engaging with the online communities that are out there.
Naturally, this is still a work in progress and I am continuing to look to increase my PLN and web of interactions. For now, I would like to detail some of the ways in which I have been participating, plus how and why each has proved to be a source of inspiration; link ups with others for both myself and my students; a source of ideas and resources shared and a way to both ask and answer questions.
Teachers must take the bull by the horns, and be deliberate in how we collaborate …
I have made a concerted effort throughout the COETAIL courses to not only blog regularly, but also to comment on the blog posts of others. During Course 5, I have certainly stepped up in this regard and have added comments not only with an increased regularity, but also with an effort to make each interaction of as high a quality as is possible. Below are some screen shots of this ‘action’ and a little on how I think that they might be useful for both myself and for others.
It is crucial that interactions online are built upon, as a conversation rather than a single comment without reply. As the picture above shows, this can then lead to a further link up. In this case, the potential for idea sharing and positive interactions for all multiplies.
As above, I found that adding debate questions which relate to the blog post added really opens out the interactions.
Of course, another crucial element of this process to to ensure that interactions are positive and that a culture of collaboration and support for others is both enhanced and shared. I would argue that empathy is a critical part of this, as per my final project with my students!
A utopian world of free expression and equality for all, or home for trolls and negative interaction? Twitter has the potential to be both, but I have personally found it to be one of the best ways to develop my PLN and web of connections.
The interaction above led not only to the wonderful resource http://empatico.org (thank you Ange) but also a potential collaboration for my students with a school in Canada.
Increasing the reach and promoting the blog has always meant that I received more comments and readers than would have been possible otherwise, including colleagues that I previously worked with (small world!)
Something that I would like to do more in the future is participating in the education chats that you can find on Twitter. I added my thoughts to the recent #springintolearning chat, via Eduro Learning, and it opened up some really good collaboration and conversation. It also led to a comment from Mr P ICT (see below), a fantastic YouTuber and podcaster (you can consider me a little star-struck!)
Finally, I also attended the 21st Century Learning conference in Hong Kong. This was a brilliant two day conference where there was such a wealth of brilliant ideas and talks. I also learnt that such events lead to my PLN making appearances in person, where I met with a fellow Online 9 COETAILer and saw a couple of talks from some of my Twitter contacts! I also linked with them on Twitter…
In line with my final project, the empatico site has been a great way to link with other educators globally. At first it proved a little difficult to find someone else with a similar schedule, but when I did, there has been some nice interactions and it is currently ongoing as we speak.
All in all, I have found that I have become an active participant in online interactions and that collaboration has been found via a few different sources. I am proud of all that I have done so far, and I am certainly no longer just a ‘lurker’.
In the future, I definitely want to take part in more chats on Twitter and I hope that my students will continue to make connections globally. With these in place, I believe that not only will my PLN continue to grow, but also myself as an effective and modern educator.