We are half way through our discovery of those tools that are essential for the "Connected Teacher." In Week 1 we looked at Tools For Communication. In Week 2 we examined Tools For Collaboration With Students. This week we are going to stick with the collaboration theme and take a look at some tools that teachers can use to collaborate with other teachers.
Week 3-Collaboration With Educators
Twitter- Of course Twitter is at the top of my list for collaboration with other educators! People ask me all the time why I use Twitter? What's the point? Think about it this way. It is really a giant educational cocktail party that you can drop in on anytime you are free, and talk to 100's and sometimes 1000's of other educators that are eager to share what they know.
The treasures I find there from the people I follow are amazing. For example, yesterday I had an administrator looking for some data on using the Wii in schools. Now, I could do some Google searches and try to find it. I could spend all day looking through material. Instead I put out on Twitter what I was looking for and within 3 minutes I had more than enough data, articles and research that was perfect for what I needed. Every teacher is an expert. Twitter allows everyone to share what they know.
Check out this video called Twitter In 60 Seconds
Joining Twitter can be overwhelming at first. Trying to figure out what to do and who to follow and where to find great information can be daunting. No worries! Here are some great places to start.
Twitter Help For Educators has tons of links to great sites for getting started with Twitter. There are also some one-click lists for some amazing educators to follow to start building your Professional Learning Network (PLN).
Building Your PLN With Twitter- This is a great post from a dear friend of mine (@shellterrell) on how educators can get the most out of Twitter.
Twitter4Teachers is the ultimate site for finding other educators. Broken down by grade levels and subject areas, you are sure to find some great gems here.
Ning- Huh? Isn't that the sound that my keys make in my pocket? Maybe, but, in addition to that, Ning is the Social Network you create. There are places to put videos, form groups, carry on conversations on forms. One of my Twitter buds, Mike (@fisher1000) describes it as; "The Social Network like Facebook, fully customizable, interactive features, great for teachers/students! (And private!)"
Lots of schools are using Ning to create a private space for their staffs. They can great groups for each grade level or department, share documents and carry out discussions without having to meet constantly. (And I emphasize private. Some Nings you will find are by approval only, which makes Ning a viable option for introducing Social Networking to peers.)
Check Out What Is A Ning
The Educators PLN is a newly established Ning that invites educators to join and share. There are groups like Twitter, Elementary Teachers, Pre-Service Teachers, Edtech, ESL and more. There is also a great repository of videos and a huge, collective list of resources for Professional Development.
Classroom 2.0 has been around for a very long time and has thousands of members and 100's of groups. You are sure to find something of interest here.
List of Educational Ning- Over at the Infinite Thinking Machine Blog there is a great list of Educational Nings, broken down by subject area and interest.
Skype- I get so excited when I talk about Skype. For me, this is another "game-changer" in education. Just like Ning and Twitter, educators are not limited to the other professionals in their school or district. They can build and grow their PLN and fill it with educators from around the world.
Ning and Twitter provide text-based communication. Messages sent and recieved. But some like a little more interaction and that is where Skype comes in. Skype is a free, downloaded program that lets you call any other Skype user for free. Better yet you can do a video chat, carry out conference calls, send and receive files and do screen sharing. I use Skype for a variety of reasons. I can easily troubleshoot with others in my district, conduct Professional Development without leaving my office, and work with colleagues on various projects.
Skype in Education is an amazing resource that has research, articles and of course directories of educators to connect with. There is also a section to connect with other professionals willing to be a guest in the classroom.
Tips for Using Skype In Schools has some great information for getting started.
Using Skype In School For Dummies is not the best of titles but does have tons of great information on how you can use this resource in school.
Google Wave- Now I might catch some flack for mentioning this because it is not open to everyone yet, however I think there is some great potential here for Peer Collaboration. (So you can bookmark this post so when you do get in you can come back here and learn more. Better yet, why not subscribe? Come on...you know you want to!)
Heard of Wave and still don't really know what its about? Never heard of it? Check out this great video from the folks who developed Wave
The Complete Guide To Google Wave is just that, the most comprehensive how-to learning resource for Wave.
The Google Wave Cheat Sheet is a handy tool to learn all the ins, outs and tricks with Wave.
Google Wave Educators is a directory of other educators who "riding the Wave."
I want to stress, using all these can be very, very challenging. I would recommend finding the one that you think you can easily fit into your day. The last thing you want is to jump in without looking and you suddenly find yourself overwhelmed with Social Media and quit. Take it one tool at a time. Ease yourself into the Ning and then join Twitter. Or join Twitter than connect with some people on Wave. Whatever order you do it in, take it one step at a time.
These are not all the collaborative tools for educators. What others do you like?
Stay tuned. Next week is the 4th and final week. On tap, tools used to create.
Image from Google CC Search. View the original here.