A question is often asked of me as to how I make global connections. Developing a learning network or PLN (personal learning network) is essential in getting globally connected. A great place to start is to join one of the biggest classrooms in the world – Classroom 2.0!
Things were getting frantic – with just two hours until interested grade prep to 6 parents were to assemble in our school library for our Technology Showcase, videos would not display on our new iPod touches. One excited class had been busy making videos and they were to show them using the iPod touches.
Urgent messages for help were sent out to all and any email lists. In sheer desperation, a discussion item was also placed on Classroom2.0. Within 10 minutes, we had the answer – not from anyone in Australia or our emailing lists, but from Matthew Needleman, in the USA. Following his instructions the videos displayed to a library overflowing with parents, grandparents and students. The showcase was a great success!
This was my first taste of the power of networking and its ability to provide information NOW from anywhere across the globe! (It needs to be noted that I teach at Hawkesdale P12 College, a small rural, geographically and culturally isolated prep to year 12 school, in South Eastern Australia.)
Four years ago, I joined classroom2.0 a ning set up by Steve Hargadon of USA. At that stage there were 3,000 members from all levels and tiers of education, all passionate about the use of technology in education. Today there are more than 466,000 members and I am proud to be a welcoming host on this ning.
The above word cloud was made by highlighting the screen of classroom2.0, copying and pasting into wordle.
Wordle from current classroom2.0 page
Why join Classroom 2.0?:-
- It is free
- It is a space to make global connections and friends
- Empowers teaching and learning
- Allows discussions/forums. There are many active discussions over the years, many still applicable today.
- Keep up to date with the latest developments in education
- Share learning and join in conversations
- Publish and read members’ blog posts
- Search for discussions, tags etc on tools, subjects, areas of personal interest
- Mailing list updates on upcoming free webinars and events
- Share and peruse photos and videos
- create or join in collaborative global projects
- There is are easy search features on previous discussion topics, technology tools, subjects, areas etc
Where can such membership lead? Here follows some memorable stories of classroom2.0 friends, connections and just some of the rather amazing outcomes for my classes.
- Chrissy Hellyer from New Zealand taught us how to create a wiki, sharing the power that interactivity, connectedness and collaboration can bring. See anzacconnection
- Lorraine Leo of USA, introduced me to the power of virtual classrooms using discoverE. Over the years, we have taught each others’ classes despite teaching at different age levels and living in different time zones. We have shared colleagues, photos, videos, experiences, festivals, celebrations and cultures. Lorraine has brought the following virtually to our school: a research scientist from her tent in Antarctica and Rich Wilson, a US sailor and his quest in sailing solo around the world. (Listen to Skipper Rich). Her grade 6 student spoke about Halloween to my fascinated students and Lorraine organised a student of Dean Shareski from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, to speak to my accounting students and much, much more. We have been part of exciting pioneering three to five way linkups, connecting a classroom in the Phillipines with mine plus teachers from three other continents, all in the one classroom. We have worked on voicethreads together – a firm favourite being “My question of you” where Lorraine’s grade two students asked a question and my year 7s replied to them. Teaching and Learning Across the Globe is a recorded joint presentation for the online Global Education Conference 2010.
- Ekaterina from Russia:- We have videoconferenced together using skype (our classes were televised on Russian television as a result), shared student surveys eg Climate Change Questionaire, developed an Across the World wiki together etc.
- Govinda Panthy- an amazing educator from Nepal who has become e-connected and painstakingly, patiently and with great determination brought global awareness to the plight of his school and students in Nepal. Govinda would awake at 4:30am in order to skype because his power is frequently cut off during daytime working hours. With the aid of friends made on classroom 2.0, Our Open World Project is now raising funds to bring several computers to SAV school and much needed physical library requisites. Make sure you visit the Open World Project site to see the real power, empathy and learning that can extend from membership.
- Alison Saylor – We worked on google docs together and co-surveyed our students on their ownership of personal gadgets. Students in a school from Jerusalem were also surveyed. Students from each school mapped the results in a spreadsheet for comparison. The project raised extensive local classroom discussion and provided many teachable moments.
There are many, many more wonderful stories that could be shared.
The long tail!:
- In 2010, I was proud to be the Australasian mentor for the innovative online Global Education Conference which connected educators from across the globe in a free three day online conference – a direct result of my membership at classroom 2.0.
- Through the resultant friendship with Steve Hargadon, he encouraged Carole McCulloch and myself to be a moderators and organisers of eT@lking, an online webinar using Blackboard Collaborate for the Australia Series. This has led to even further connections and networks.
Tips for successful membership of Classroom2.0 or other similar networks
- Ensure your profile has enough information to encourage others to consider and add you as a friend
- Lurk, lurk and lurk! Watch the discussions, search the tools, subjects or areas that you may be into help, network and share existing knowledge.
- Introduce yourself on the Introductions discussion.
- Watch the discussion thread on “Introductions” and befriend some of the others who may be like-minded across a number of countries.
- Make friends where possible.
- When confident actively join in the conversations and discussions.
- Add your own discussion topic
- Write some blog posts (these can be cross posted from your existing blog).
- Set up an RSS feed for the discussions you are interested in.
- Return regularly
The networked teacher has the power to transform learning and education in directions that are only ‘dreamed about’! Together we can make the ‘dreams’ a reality!
What spaces or tools have helped you build a learning network? Are you a member of classroom 2.0? If so what experiences can you share?
Any questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or add a comment back here.
Please note that this blog post was written for the Edublogs Challenge on Developing a PLN. There are many other great posts to be found here.