Reflections about Professional Learning and the NESA FLC

One of the first questions that was asked during Tom Guskey’s presentation on Does it Make a Difference Evaluating Professional Learning Experiences at the NESA FLC conference was What makes PD effective? I immediately thought about all the PL sessions I have offered over my 5 years here at AIS-R and specifically about the feedback I had received. I also thought about the different sessions I had attended and what I had learned the most/least from. I decided that the remaining four days would be a great opportunity to further develop my understanding of what makes PL effective. But first let’s look at what Mr. Guskey had to say.

During Mr. Guskey’s presentation he spoke about research findings related to effective PL experiences.

  • He mentioned that the workshop model is effective. However, that it is often a one shot deal and is more effective when the model is reproduced.
  • He also mentioned that using outside experts leads to effective PL not because they necessarily have more expertise but, rather, because often ‘people who create the problem have a hard time fixing the problem.’
  • He spoke about the importance of time and that studies show that a minimum of 30 hours must be spent on a topic to show improvement.
  • Mr. Guskey mentioned the importance of focusing on content – pedagogy or curriculum.
  • He also mentioned that PL needs to have teacher discretion incorporated. There has to be ‘mutual adaptation’.

More information about his findings can be found here.

As the conference continued I informally evaluated the sessions I went to and found that most of what Mr. Guskey spoke about rang true. The session I learned most from were those I was invested in and had an opportunity to contribute to. The best sessions for me were the two days of meetings for the NESA Virtual School Consortium. They were related to topics that directly impact my job. I had the opportunity to participate and share my thoughts and influence the topics. We had a significant amount of time to discuss topics and were surrounded by like minded experts. I also had good take aways from Mr. Guskey’s presentation, Mr. Popinchalk’s presentation on Internationalism and Interculturalism and the presentation on Using Visualizations for Learning Analytics. The common denominator in those presentations was that they applied directly to what I was doing, were focused on big ideas and had charismatic presenters.

On the flip side there were presentations that weren’t nearly as effective that I attended. The presentation on STEM curriculum wasn’t about STEM curriculum at all. It was a sales pitch for an online product. Also the presentation on resilient leaders did not have a strong impact on me as a professional. While the presentation had some interactive elements it had no practical applications and the content was not directly related to something I do each day at work and it was the last presentation of the conference. Here was my biggest concern with the entire conference. I spent 6 days listening to people talk. None of the presentations were in the workshop model. While we had intermittent discussions during some of the presentations, none of the presentations challenged me to create or develop something. We are asking our teachers to facilitate learning and help our learners construct their own meaning but we are not practicing that at our own Leadership Professional Learning Conference.
In thinking about the sessions we have offered this year at AIS-R; I believe we have had some success. The work we have done with ePortfolio’s, learning principles and the school theme has been interactive with teachers working on individual and group projects. We’ve challenged them to think about what they are teaching and how they are teaching it while creating something. The only time we have had a ‘sage on the stage’ was for important information dissemination. One item that I think both we and NESA could improve is on the actual scheduling of PL. Have 4,5 or even 6 straight days of PL doesn’t allow learners to actually put into practice what they have learned and even maybe overloads the amount of information that is absorbed. Instead spreading days out allows learners to take one task, implement and reflect and then work on something new the next time.


Reflection on EdTech 543 and use of my Blog

Disclaimer: This post is written for my EdTech 543 Masters class at Boise State University. For this course we were asked to reflect on the learning we had done through our blog throughout the semester.

This blog post represents my 10th post for this course. As I think in terms of the entire semester I find that I really enjoy writing reflective blog posts. I like to think that I am honest with myself and challenge myself in areas that I don’t think I did my best. I also believe in the power of reflection for personal growth. I’ve used blogs with my students to allow them to reflect on the learning they have done. Before I look at each post I think this is definitely a strength for me and something I look forward to continuing when this course concludes.

First Post: My post described in detail my experience with various social networking platforms and how I use them. At the end of the post I set two goals for myself. To develop a plan for teacher’s to create their own PLN’s online. I’ve already started doing this by offering PD on our early release days about online PLN’s. Secondly to enrich my own personal PLN. I’ve worked on this throughout the semester and it is a lot more robust in terms of content, contacts and variety of platforms.

Personal Expressions of COP’s, PLN’s and Connectivism: I was really happy with my visual representation. I think the analogy of an Aspen Grove is great. The image I created is inclusive of all elements and the references were varied and informative.

Set Up and Follow Twitter Chats: I chose to follow five hashtags for this assignment. #edtech, #edchat, #mlearning, #mobilelearning and #gafe. A few months later I’m still following #edtech, #gafe and #edchat. I found that the two mobile hashtags really didn’t have a lot of great content and way too much spam. Also my Twitter revelation. The idea that you don’t need to read everything on Twitter. If it is important it will come back around.

My Digital Footprint: This was one of my favorite posts. I was really able to ‘dig deep’ into how I deal with students and myself online. It was interesting to look again at my online presence and how little had changed. I have just ‘Googled myself’ again to find that now more of my personal networks are appearing (Yay!) and less of the other (criminal) Bryan Wiedeman is showing up on the first page.

Steps to Improve my Digital Footprint: Okay lets have a look to see how well I have maintained my promise to myself. Not a good start, I still haven’t looked at my privacy settings on Facebook. Yes I have posted a professional image on all of my social networks. Yes I have updated the profile information on all my social networks. Yes I do now have a common message as part of updating my profiles. I haven’t purchased my domain. Although to be fair I won’t be leaving my current position for at least 4 years. Yes I do publish and post regularly to both my blog and Twitter. I haven’t set up Google alerts. A good job for next weekend. Yes I have been sharing content that aligns with what I believe professionally. I haven’t really had many comments on my blog so I’ll have to give #10 a N/A. Well 6/9 seems pretty good for a couple of months, but, clearly there is still some work to do.

Real Time and Live Virtual Professional Development: My favorite post of the semester. I really got involved in this topic and learned about something I had never experienced before. I think this is where I saw the most personal growth during the semester. I really enjoyed the live Twitter chats. Although I found it very interesting when attending the Fall NESA Leadership Institute that one of the keynote speakers spoke about the dangers of Twitter chats as they can often be an echo board where no real discussion takes place.

PLE Diagram: I love the diagram that I created for this assignment and I think it is entirely appropriate for me. I like visual representations and it was great trying to ‘draw’ my PLE using Photoshop. I like the different layers and how they aren’t all just networks but the different layers of interaction that occur in my network.

Research – Social Networking Case Studies – My most hated post of the semester. I do not like doing research. I don’t like the endless searching, trying to find appropriate content and meeting dead ends along the way. I did however, really like learning about Scoop.It. I think it is a fantastic resource and something I have shared with my colleagues at work. Now if it were only free.

Social Media Policy: Another post I really enjoyed. I was happy with the end product that I created but I feel it still needs some polish before it is presentable. I think I will let it sit for awhile and revisit it after I’ve spent more time in my new role.

Summary: I’m very happy with my contributions this semester. It’s been great to go back and read through what I have written and see all the progress I’ve made throughout the semester. I’m also really impressed with my follow through on some of the goals I had set for myself. It is obvious that I haven’t completed all my goals, which is great, because it means I still have something to build towards. I do think that my blog posts are authentic, deep and reflective and for that I believe I deserve the full 75 marks.

Social Media Policy

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of my Masters coursed EdTech 543. We were tasked with creating a social media policy for our institution. This post represents my beliefs as to what should be included in a social media policy and is not the current social media policy being used at my school.

I really enjoyed this assignment. I like looking at other policies and seeing what is consistent across all of them and then deciding how it could be best included the policy for my school. Currently we do not have a single document that acts as our social media policy. However, we do have several pieces in our handbooks that are related to social media.

Below would be considered the first draft of a social media policy. It does require input from many stakeholders to become a truly finished product that could influence social media use at our school.
We will use social media to improve communication with our community, integrate new technologies into the classroom and improve our professional practice through collaboration with our peers both inside and outside of the school.

We recognize that social media can be a powerful learning tool for both students and teachers and will support its use in a safe and productive environment.

When interacting on social media platforms the lines between personal and professional persona become blurred. This document details practices that teachers are expected to follow when interacting online to protect both themselves and also the school.

Social Media Definition:
Social Media is web-based and mobile enabled communication that is interactive between multiple parties. It is user driven. It encompasses a wide variety of content formats including text, video, photo and audio and is characterized by users sharing, commenting or creating content. This includes but is not limited to blogs, email, texting, websites, social networks, wikis and forums. Some examples include FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

Confidential Information:
Confidentiality – Online postings are not private. Do not share confidential information related to internal school discussions or specific information about students or staff.

Photos/Videos – Do not post photos or videos of community members with their written consent.

School Events – Do not publish the date or time of school sponsored events.

Responsibility for what is written online:
Disclaimer – If you have a personal blog include a disclaimer that your writing is your own and does not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the school.

Be Transparent – When participating in social media be honest about who you are. Don’t misrepresent your identity or pretend to be someone else.

Personal Writing – Even if you use a nickname or are using a personal account you are still an employee of the school and will be perceived as one. Always write in the first person and announce that your thoughts are your own and not those of the school.

Representative of the school – Respect the values and beliefs of both the school and also the community we live in. Respect the privacy of community members. No comments should be made about specific students/teachers/parents. You are responsible for what you post so be certain it is accurate and reputable.

School Logo – The school logo should not be published unless permission is given by the HR and Communications office.

Spelling and Grammar – What you write is a reflection of you as a person. Review and edit all work before posting it publicly to ensure that grammar and spelling are coherent.

Copyright and Fair Use – Respect the work of others. If you use content that was created by someone else give credit to the original author in the proper format.

Staff-Student Relations
Employees are prohibited from establishing personal relationships with students through social media sites until students have reached the age of 18 and have graduated from the school. All communication with students whether through email, text or phone should be professional in nature and related to work being done at school. If a staff member believes that communication with a student has crossed the professional line they should immediately report it to their respective principal and the counseling center.

Growing our Policy
This document is the result of the work of the Technology department of the school. It includes information from the MS/HS Student handbook and the Faculty and Staff handbook. It also references several other Social Media Policies including

Ball State University Social Media Policy. (2009, November 17). Retrieved November 9, 2014.

CSUEB Social Media Guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2014.

DePaul :: Brand Resources :: Social Media Guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2014.

Head, S. (2011). Faculty and Staff Guidelines. Retrieved November 9, 2014.

NYC Department of Education Social Media Guidelines. (2013, Spring). Retrieved November 9, 2014.

In addition to the resources already provided as stated in our mission we are in partnership with students, parents and the community. As a result we will work to build this policy by involving our stakeholders in the following manner.

Students – Throughout the 2014-15 school year as students across all three divisions (elementary, middle and high school) complete the units in health class related to technology and social media they will read the social media policy and develop their own recommendations that will be reviewed by the divisional offices and then forwarded to the leadership team for discussion and possible inclusion in the current policy.

Parents – A series of coffee mornings will be conducted to inform parents on the use of social media at the school. At these meetings the social media policy will be presented and discussed. Comments from parents will be recorded and then brought to the leadership team for discussion and possible inclusion in the current policy.

Teachers – One divisional meeting will be dedicated during the year to the social media policy. During this meeting the tech department will present best practices related to the use of social media in the classroom. In addition, the social media policy will be reviewed and teachers will be given the opportunity to discuss and suggest modifications. These ideas will be presented to the leadership team for discussion and possible inclusion in the current policy.


Research – Social Networking Case Studies

Disclaimer: This post was written for my EdTech 543 masters class through Boise State University. For the assignment we were asked to curate a topic related to the use of social media in classrooms. We had to find 10-15 lesson plans or case studies where teachers used social media as a learning component.

I must admit I had a very difficult time finding appropriate content to curate for this project. The project asked us to find actual case studies of teachers using social media as a key component in a project or lesson and that these studies were related to our content area or grade level. Since I’m no longer in the classroom I decided to look for topics related to my last classroom job which was HS technology. I was really surprised that it was very difficult to find resources related to my field of interest. It might also have to do with the fact that I was searching solely for lesson plans that had been taught. However, I ended up expanding my topic to include all topics in HS. I also tried as much as possible to find resources that utilized different social media platforms.

I decided to curate my topic using I really like this platform for a couple of reasons. First it is so easy to add content and summaries. Secondly the aesthetics of the site are great. You can view my topic here.

Key Learning:

First, I was really impressed with the many ways that teachers are incorporating social media into their classrooms. Listed below are some of the more unique and impressive uses I came across.

  1. 25 interesting ways to use Twitter in the classroom. – While there are 25 possible uses here the best one in my opinion was #7. This teacher used Twitter to have people respond from around the world with their location. Then students would estimate the distance, then estimate with an atlas and finally estimate using Google Earth. A great use of 2 social media tools.
  2. Searching for evidence for research tasks. – This activity taught students how to use Google Scholar. What I really liked about it was how the teacher had students do a regular Google search and a Google Scholar search and then compare results. What a great way to teach about information validity.
  3. Lesson plans using FaceBook. –  A really interesting use of Facebook. For a reading assignment students create a Facebook profile for a fictional character from a book they are reading and then pretend to be that character!
  4. Seven social media lessons for the classroom. – Many different social media platforms could be used to accomplish the goal of back channeling which the author talks about in this post. I think using back channeling is a fantastic way to make students active participants during presentations, also to create a log of events during a presentation and also to allow those students who might not want to speak out during class also participate.
  5. QR code classroom implementation guide. – This teacher uses QR codes to help students collect and share information for their portfolios. Students can then share a piece of paper with the code on it so that it can be scanned and viewed by others.


There are some themes throughout all of these activities. Most obvious, of course, is the ability for students to connect with students outside of their schools walls. This creates a couple of side effects. Firstly, the assignments are more authentic.Their work isn’t simply writing a story or completing problems they are creating authentic content that is being published. Secondly, students become more invested because their work is being seen by a much wider and broader audience than just their classmates and teacher. All of these tasks are making great use of of the SAMR model and are either hitting the modification step or the redefinition step of the model.


PLE Diagram and Analysis

Disclaimer: This blog post was composed for my EdTech 543 course. For this assignment we were tasked with creating a diagram that represented our personal PLE and how it was connected. We also needed to compare our diagram with 6 of our peers.

My PLEProcess of Creation:

My diagram was created in Photoshop. I love Photoshop and have used and taught it for years and now that I’m out of the classroom I don’t have as many chances to use it so I was thankful to have the opportunity now. However, it does take a long time to create a diagram like this  (at least for me).

When I first starting considering my PLE diagram I had a difficult time deciding exactly how I wanted to display it. First I began thinking about ways to create all the connections from distinct sites and realized that this would make a huge rats nest with lines and arrows going everywhere. When I think about my PLE it is not a mess at all. In fact it is highly organized and works very well with each piece having its own specific purpose. So I decided I wanted to go in a different direction. Instead what I decided to do was create a diagram with 5 layers. At the very center is me! This is of course my PLE and everything in it is somehow related to me. The next represents the ways in which I connect, share and create for my PLE. I use my phone, tablet and MacBook. The next layer is the sites I use to find, share and create content. On this layer are the 8 main sites that I use. They are all related in some way and each is connected to one another. The fourth layer represents the specific tools I use on those unique sites to work with material. The fifth layer is the other people in my network who are doing the same thing that I am doing. I think it is important to note that all items in my diagram are circles. That is because it is all cyclical. While my diagram begins with me in the center content flows in and out and to and from other people and it also circulates on each layer of my diagram.


David Bernheim: The first PLE diagram I looked at was Davids. I like how David has grouped his network into three distinct groups. He decided to group his sites either into places to display, to discuss, or to learn. There is no clear link between each of the three groups which is different from mine where everything is linked. In addition, mine is about the different layers in my network and David focused on which tools belong together under a shared attribute.

Alissa Blackburn: Alissa has created a diagram very similar to mine. All of her sites are part of a circle of hands. I’m assuming as a representation of how they work together. She went a step further by grouping them into four distinct categories on that circle. The categories were communicating, sharing, learning and connecting. The difference again is I looked at layers for my differences while she grouped.

Jody Lazarski: Jody went in an entirely different direction by basing her diagram on 3 fireworks. I’m not sure if there is a connection between what is on each firework but she has many different sites than I used. Included in her diagram are some sites I hadn’t even considered like discovery Ed and Common Sense Media.

Kimberly Hefty: I see a lot of similarities between my diagram and Kims. I really like the imagery of the flower. It represents a circle of shared connections like mine but each site has its own place to grow and expand outward. She included Moodle which is something I definitely should have included in mine because it is a great resource that I use to teach and also learn.

Ross Craycraft: Ross’s diagram is very different from mine. Ross focused on making the connections between each of his sites and making a road map. I noticed some tools that I didn’t use including many Google products I had not considered and also Slack which I have never heard of.

Andrew Macrae: Andrew took a very unique approach. I really like how he describes it as a unique experience each time and how he uses different ingredients for a specific purpose. This is very different from my very cohesive flowing PLE where all pieces work together.

Real Time and Live Virtual Professional Development

Disclaimer: This post is written for my EdTech543 masters course. We were asked to attend 4 live twitter chats and 4 live webinars related to our personal professional development. Below you will find a description of each event I attended and also proof in the form of screenshots and embedded Tweets to attest to my participation.

This year we have spent a considerable amount of time at my school discussing how to help teachers begin to develop their online PLE. We decided as a team that Twitter would be a great starting point and once we have that established we can move into other platforms. Although I have used Twitter for professional development I wouldn’t say I am fluent or accomplished in its application. As a result I was excited when I saw that we would have to do some real time live PD online for this assignment. As part of our assignment we needed to post about what we learned. Originally I intended to discuss the actual content that I learned about while completing this activity (and I will a little bit) but what I quickly realized while completing this activity was that the real learning I was doing was about the process of live PD and what worked best for me and not the content being consumed. And so the focus of this article will be about what I enjoyed most about online PD and what types of live PD I will continue to consume going forward.

We had to attend 4 live Twitter chats and 3 live webinars. I decided to start with a Twitter chat. Our professor provided us with some great resources including this Google Sheet that lists a bunch of live Twitter chats related to education. I quickly perused the feeds and realized something that I had suspected. Most of the chats were based in the US and therefore most of the chats were set for the evening on either the east coast or west coast. This presented a bit of a challenge for someone living in Saudi Arabia which is 7 hours ahead of the east coast and 10 hours ahead of the west coast. Now there are also a few chats each day that are scheduled around lunch time in the states and so in the end I had to be a little more selective if I planned to get some sleep each night. As I narrowed my search I found one that I thought would be a great starting point.

Before I attended my first live Twitter chat there were a few more things I needed to think about. How would I attend? Would I use the normal Twitter client and just follow the hashtag? Would I add a new column in my Tweetdeck for the hashtag? I ended up choosing a third strategy which was links to your twitter account and on your screen you only see the feed you are following. The best part is every time you post from the site it automatically adds the hashtag for you. I highly recommend it if you are going to do live Twitter chats. Alice Keeler who hosted the first LiveClassroom2.0 webinar I attended talked about another great strategy for following Twitter chats where you create multiple columns in your TweetDeck. 1 for the chat and 1 for each of the moderators. Also before I started I thought a little about my participation. I decided that as a noob I would just kind of hang out in the background. I’d add a tweet or two to the discussion so that I could prove I had attended but I really just wanted to figure what this whole Twitter chat thing was about before I jumped in head first. Didn’t work out so well.


So the first chat I attended was #iolchat. iol or inside online learning is exactly what it sounds like. Our topic was

I quickly realized that there weren’t to many participants. The host and maybe 2 or 3 other people. As time went by there would be a tweet here or there and the host was doing his/her best to keep the conversation moving. I realized that hanging out in the back wasn’t going to work out and so I decided to jump in on one of the questions and I was really surprised by what happened. I felt like I was part of a real conversation. The 4 or 5 of us shared back and forth and we talked about resources related to online learning and more specifically the topic of the week which was online grading. I learned some ideas about using forums for grading with Moodle and also shared a personal favorite resource of mine Hapara Teacher Dashboard. An hour later I had sent 11 tweets (sure felt like a lot more than that). I was convinced that this was a revolutionary and easy way to participate in PD with others around the world. I later found out that the reason this particular chat was so effective was a few things. 1. The host was very skilled. They asked good questions, had great follow up questions and was genuinely interested in what people were sharing. 2. It was a small group which really allowed us to feel like we were involved in the discussion. Proof:

Next up I decided to tackle a live webinar.  I’ve done some in the past with mixed results. I encountered the same issue with webinars that I had with Twitter chats. There just weren’t that many that were happening during a time when I was awake. However, there are still some great choices.

Powering Student-Focused Digital Initiatives in Cherry Creek with Schoology’s LMS

I found that offered webinars at a good time for me. When I saw the webinar about Schoology I knew I would be interested because I don’t have much experience with LMS’s outside of Moodle. I wanted to learn about an alternative and find out how schools were using it. What I really liked about the webinars is that they were entirely web based. I didn’t need to download and install any software on my computer which was great. Below is a screenshot of the interface. Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 8.56.29 PM

As you can see the chat window is on the left, there is also a place to ask a question and a large screen on the right for the presentation. I arrived a little early to make sure I was ready and the chat window was busy with people sharing where they were from and also discussing the different 1:1 and BYOD programs their schools used. It was great. I was able to share with others and hear a little about what they were doing with tablet programs. At 7:00 the presenters joined and the chat room stopped. Almost nothing in the chat window for the next 20 minutes. It felt like a traditional classroom. All of a sudden the teacher was lecturing and all the students were listening or at least attempting to listen. While the content was good and I did learn a fair amount about Schoology I left disappointed because I didn’t feel involved in the process. Towards the end of the presentation the presenters asked for questions but because there were so many people attending online there was little opportunity to ask questions that pertained to my particular situation.


Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 9.48.56 PM I decided to give another chance and jumped into my next webinar the very next day.

Fueling An Innovative Change Movement Around Instruction

This webinar was in the same format and was hosted by Discovery Education. I was excited because they were talking about training and delivering PD. Something that I am now responsible for related to technology at my school. I was hoping to find strategies to use to make training more effective and long lasting and I did. However, the format was mostly the same. People chatting when we first arrived and then once the presenters started the discussion stopped and they began. The worst possible thing happened to. The video they kicked off with lagged badly and seemed to be having troubles loading. It felt like the bandwidth they were using was not sufficient and to make matters worse in the chat they told us it was probably our individual machines! Right there they lost all credibility with me and I had a hard time focusing for the remainder of the presentation.

Proof: Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 9.07.29 PM I also decided I’d had enough of webinars. What I liked was that they were web based and easy to load. Also the chat at the beginning was great and where I did most of my learning. What I didn’t like was the traditional classroom feel. We talk and for the most part you listen. Wait for the designated question period. I just didn’t feel like it was personalized to me. I decided it was time to head back to Twitter. This is where I encountered a few challenges using Twitter chats. I picked out two Twitter chats that I wanted to attend. I set aside time in my schedule and showed up only to wait 10 minutes past the hour for both to begin and realize they weren’t happening. Disappointing to say the least. Of course lists need to be constantly checked and updated and sometimes things come up but there is nothing worse than showing up to something that isn’t going to happen. What I started doing was checking the feeds for Twitter chats a couple hours ahead of the scheduled time to see if there was a tweet confirming the chat was happening and this seemed to help. Also I found @chatsalad who tweets about live Twitter chats that are coming up or happening live.


After my first experience with Twitter chats I was really excited to jump back in. I decided to try a chat that was discussing how to manage passionate communities. While it wasn’t specifically talking about education it was talking about building and maintaining online communities which is very important at our school. It wasn’t only a Twitter chat but also a Google Hangout. So I got the best of both worlds. Only I quickly realized this wasn’t like the last Twitter chat I had attended. There were a lot of people involved and the Twitter chat flew by with all the posts. Also the people who were participating in the Hangout were the 8 moderators. They did talk a lot about community management and I learned some great strategies for maintaining communities including sharing images, giving away swag, consistently responding and most surprising supporting ‘mild brag’. I think this format had lots of great info but again I didn’t feel involved in the discussion or topic and often found myself off task.



Next up I joined satchat which was broadcasting live from the edscape conference. Not only was there a Twitter chat but also a Google hangout and a live broadcast on YouTube. They also mentioned they were using Storify to archive the Twitter chat. Near the beginning they mentioned there were about 300 people on the hashtag. Based on my last experience with a chat I was a little concerned by this. How would it be personalized for me and what I wanted to learn? However, as the chat picked up I was really happy with what was occurring I was listening to the YouTube channel and reading the Twitter feed. I found it difficult to follow both at the same time so I mostly focused on the chat. I found this chat as successful as the #iolchat for many of the same reasons. They did a really great job engaging people in the chat. They tweeted out the questions which were related to philosophies of education and game changers in education. Because it was so busy it was hard to read all the tweets and also to engage in any extended dialogue but you could pick and choose some tweets to read and garner more information. Questions came fairly regularly and it was interesting to read different peoples opinions. At the same time they were interviewing people on YouTube. I didn’t pay much attention to the YouTube channel until my 1 year old came over for some attention and I wasn’t able to read the chat. At this point I could switch over and listen. In a few minutes when she moved on I was able to hop back into the chat. I liked the opportunity to participate or at least absorb in multiple ways although it was impossible to follow everything. They also did a good job on YouTube of sharing some info from the chat and also to announce when a new question was posed.



For my last Twitter chat I joined new teachers to twitter. The topic was Twitter Basics Revisited. What I found unique and really liked about this chat was that the moderators posted the list of questions online beforehand so you could see all the questions that would be discussed and start considering your answers. Again I really liked the community feel here. There were a fair amount of people online but I really enjoyed when I tweeted about being there for the first time and had a few RT’s and greetings. It made me feel welcome and confident about posting in the chat. I felt the same way in both the IOL chat and the SAT chat. This feeling of comfort made it easy to participate even if I wasn’t an expert or a veteran. I also noticed that there were many regulars here who did a great job retweeting, favoriting and communicating with everyone. They kept the chat moving and everything was positive. I learned a lot during this chat. People did a great job posting links to articles that helped me think about my Twitter proflie pic and also to update my profile information. Finally I learned some Twitter abbreviations I hadn’t known about before. Wow out of 4 Twitter chats I really benefitted from three and there were a few common trends but I will revisit those at the end of the article.


TwitterChats: What, Why, How, When?

Back to webinars. This time I decided to try a LiveClassroom2.0 webinar about believe it or not TwitterChats. There was an immediate red flag for me though. I had to download the Blackboard Collaborate software. I was lucky I realized this in advance as it was quite a large file. After it was downloaded it was easy to install and I was on my way. Based on my previous two experiences with live webinars I wasn’t filled with enthusiasm. However, I found I was presently surprised. Right when I entered I noticed why I had to download the software. There were a lot of features for Blackboard Collaborate. I followed along as the moderators explained how to set things up, which was a big help. Also I was pleased to see that there were 5 moderators each with a specific task. This really helped keep things flowing and organized. I also noticed one of my favorite parts of TwitterChats. In the chat pane everyone was introduced and then greeted by one of the moderators. Once the presentation began people were encouraged to participate and be involved and this continued throughout the entire hour. We even had an interactive part to play in the chat window. However, I still haven’t gotten to the best part. What I think Twitter chats have a really hard time doing is allowing one expert to share their expertise. This webinar was the perfect opportunity for Alice Keeler to share what she knew and the team of moderators did a great job creating the live binder and also recording the presentation for viewing afterwords. I definitely am beginning to see the benefits of both live webinars and Twitter chats. I learned a lot during this presentation. Tips on how to be more effective with Twitter and everyone was sharing a ton of great resources on using Twitter which I will have to comb over when I have more time.


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What I learned about live PD:

1. To be effective it needs to active for participants and not passive. If you engage your viewers they will participate and absorb more of your content. A great way to do that is to welcome people to the chat pane or Twitter feed. Have moderators who are ready to encourage and support participants especially new guys like me!

2. Make it interactive. I really enjoyed the Twitter chats that had predetermined questions that were shared with the audience over time. Again I felt included and learned a lot from my peers and not just the moderators or experts. The best moderators know when to release those questions and how to encourage follow up.

3. Provide supplementary material. Providing links to resources or collections of resources really enhance the presentation. Its often difficult to follow everything that is happening during the presentation or chat. Having the ability to go back later and peruse things you might have missed can really enhance what you learned.

4. Content is still king. While having a great experience is important if you the content you are learning about isn’t valuable or the presenter isn’t knowledgeable then it won’t be a good use of your time. The great part about these collaborative events is that the weight to carry the chat isn’t solely on the expert or moderators.

5. Both webinars and Twitter chats have their place as long as they are well moderated. If you are looking to have an expert share mostly their expertise than maybe a webinar is the way to go. If you want the focus to be on the group and you want it to be easy to join and manage then maybe a Twitter chat is the way to go.

hmm don’t these all sound like effective classroom teaching strategies?

I’d like to end by saying that while there was some variance in the quality of different sessions I attended I did learn valuable information in every session and some of the variance is related to what I was looking to learn and not a knock on the presenters themselves. The best part of all of these live PD opportunities are that there is so much differentiation. What I wasn’t fond of will be great for someone else. I’ve really started to realize that the possibilities for PD are endless thanks to the web and thoughtful and hardworking people like iolchat,, satchat, nt2tchat, cmgrhangout, LiveClassroom2.0 and Alice Keeler. I’ve even been contacted by one of the moderators of one of the chats I attended about setting up some collaboration opportunities! I guess its time for me to move from consumer of content into producer of content.

Steps to Improve my Digital Footprint

In analyzing my current digital footprint I’ve learned a few things. First, I’ve grown from the person I used to be. When I was younger and in university I wasn’t careful about the pictures I posted online or about the opinions I shared. Since that time and as I’ve become more involved with educational technology both my lifestyle and the information I share with people has changed. Some might call this growing up. I think my wife might say I still have a ways to go. However, I now have a much broader online presence. After Googling myself I realized that while I’m not posting items that might be damaging my digital footprint, I’m also not really actively promoting the cultivation of a more positive footprint and as a result I’m mostly drifting aimlessly. The ten points listed below are my attempt to be active in improving and promoting a more positive digitalpersona for myself.

  1. Regularly check my Facebook privacy settings. While most of the content I share online will be professional and used to enhance my digital footprint I would like Facebook to remain personal. I teach internationally and this is the best way to maintain a personal relationship with my friends at home and around the world and also to share the events of my families life. I will monitor the information I post on here for appropriateness but I won’t use my Facebook page as a professional resource. (Close, 2012)
  2. A truly professional image. In the past I have used photos from vacations or even selfies for my different social media accounts. I want to use a professionally taken image (not that it could help this face much!) on all accounts and use the same username BryanWiedeman to create consistency and help people find me more easily. (Hengstler, 2011)
  3. Keep profiles up to date. All information in my profile for each account including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should be up to date because profiles rate highly in Google search. (Bearden, 2014)
  4. Have one common message. It’s important that I know how I want other people to view me professionally. I need to write down specifically what I want people to know about me and share that on each of my social networks and ensure that when I do post content online it is consistent with the persona I am presenting. (Hengstler, 2011)
  5. Purchase my domain. I need to own the domain That way I can use it as a portal for my entire online portfolio. From here someone should be able to navigate to any of my professional social media accounts and also see any material that I have published. (Lowenthal and Dunlap, 2012)
  6. Post and publish regularly. It’s also important that I consistently publish new content professionally both to my blog and also to my social media accounts that reflect my views as a professional. (Lowenthal and Dunlap, 2012)
  7. Set up Google alerts. This way I can stay informed about new content that is attributed to me and then share it with my professional community. (Nielson, 2011)
  8. Share other content that is aligned with my professional vision. I need to be active on social media websites and my own blog sharing content that is not authored by me but that is related to my professional views and give proper attribution which citing resources. Also it is important to contribute to peers sites as well. (Lowenthal and Dunlap, 2012)
  9. Interact with your followers. I need to respond to comments left on my blog, respond to tweets that are sent to me and encourage interaction with followers to encourage more people to follow me professionally and create a more robust network. (Beal, 2012)
  10. Act on negative publicity. When I find information online that doesn’t portray me in the positive image I have created I need to act by responding to the publisher by being sincere, transparent and consistent. (Beal, 2012)


Work Cited

Beal, A. (2012, July 25). The 11 Laws of Online Reputation Management. Retrieved September 27, 2014.

Bearden, S. (2013, August 1). Digital Footprints – Managing Your Online Reputation. Retrieved September 27, 2014.

Close, A. (2012). Online consumer behavior: Theory and research in social media, advertising, and e-tail. New York: Routledge.

Hengstler, J. (2011). Managing your digital footprint: Ostriches v. Eagles.Education for a digital world, 2.

Nielsen, L. (2011, August 19). Discover what your digital footprint says about you. Retrieved September 27, 2014.

Lowenthal, P., & Dunlap, J. (2012, June 6). Intentional Web Presence: 10 SEO Strategies Every Academic Needs to Know. Retrieved September 27, 2014.