Yesterday, I attended Ed Camp in New Orleans. It is an unconference that educators have created around the United States to teach each other best practices for using technology tools in the classroom K-12. This was the second annual event in New Orleans. I could not attend last year and was excited to go this year.
Okay, I am going to first vent here because I think this could be improved for next year. The beginning of the event in the morning was sooooo slow. I was getting restless and thought the day was going to be a waste because I arrived at 8:15, and the first session did not begin until 10AM. That is just too much time for sitting without a focus. If you ask me to come out on a Saturday in July, I want to be brought on board from the minute I walk in the door. I think that the two take-aways that we wrote to guide the sessions for the day should have been collected the minute that we walked in the door. The planning for the day could have been done much faster. I am just not good at sitting. The other problem I found was that many attendees were so unfamiliar with all the 21st century tools that many of us are already using. I have been blogging and tweeting since 2009. I skype. I create videos for a flipped classroom. I have a website for my library. I am ready to move to the next level, whatever that may be, and there are so many who are still far behind.
Enough complaining, now I want to share what I did learn. That way I can use this blog post as my notes for the day. I took notes in Evernote on a borrowed iPad. Then I just logged into the web version of Evernote to pull everything up on my computer. I just love that. Easy.
The first session I attended was on Twitter with facilitator Paula Naugle. She is a fourth grade teacher in my district, and I knew of her and the amazing connections that she has made on Twitter. She moderates #4thchat once a week. She gave the basics on twitter which were certainly familiar to me. However, she reminded me of something that I want to remember when teaching newbies to use Twitter. You do not have to join Twitter to lurk, read posts and learn from all the amazing teachers using Twitter for their Professional Learning Network (PLN). You can just type in the URL: www.twitter.com/search and a search box will come up. You can search by person, but using hashtags will probably get you more of where you want to go. I have been using Cybrary Man's list of hashtags for awhile. However, Brian Mull from November Learning took the list and shortened it for the most important education hashtags to follow. Also, if you are interested in following discussions about the Common Core State Standards, and everybody is talking Common Core these days. Here are three hashtags to follow on Twitter: #CommonCore, #CCSS and #CCchat.
For the next session, only a couple of people stayed in the room. Brian Mull was going to share social bookmarking. I am a very active user of Delicious, but he wanted to show me some features of Diigo that might be useful in the classroom. You can install a Diigolet on your iPhone or iPad so that you can save links on the go. You can also save links in Diigo and Delicious at the same time, and I can import my links that I already have into Diigo. I have to make sure that my tags would also import because without the tags, it would be hard to search the links that I have saved. If you want students in a group or a class to share links, the teacher or the student can create a unique tag that each person uses when they save a link. Like: PFTSTASSFair. That way they can search the tag name to pull up everyone's links. Teachers can also create groups, so students could contribute links to a group Diigo account. If you go to: Diigo.com/education, then teachers can get an education account and add students to Diigo. There are many public Diigo groups that you can join. So if there is a topic that you want to follow or you need to study a topic for an assignment, then you might find a group that is collecting links that might be useful for you.
I am going to end here when I headed out to lunch to get a yummy New Orleans po boy sandwich from Parasol's. I will talk about the afternoon sessions in Part II that will be posted tomorrow.