Aug 15, 2011

Educators Making Connections

No matter what your tech experience, find a tool to help you stay connected & stay informed

Use this Stixy to add any sites you don't see here.


New to collaborating and connecting with others online? You don’t want to get overwhelmed so you might want to start out with one or two sites. If there is a site that is local or regional, that might give you the most confidence to join and participate.

IDEAL:
IDEAL is a Billings-based social network that has been continually growing to include educators from around the state and nation. All members have to be approved, so it is a more safe, comfortable environment to learn.
bpstilt.ning.com

Classroom 2.0:
Steve Hargadon created this site for educators all around the world to connect. Although the site is pretty large, it is easy to navigate and you can join specific interest groups to make sure you focus on what is important to you. My favorite part of this community however is the free webinars and interviews with innovative technology users. They give you tutorials, resources, lesson ideas and more.
classroom20.com

Free Technology 4 Teachers:
Richard Byrne continually keeps us current on free and effective digital tools. Although he is a full-time teacher, Richard devotes enough time to this blog that it is an award-winning resource for us.
www.freetech4teachers.com

Digital Learning Environments:
DLE is a sponsored site created by Tech & Learning. It gives you so many resources, it will make your head spin. There are resources for integrating technology, learning new tools, teacher professional development and more.
guide2digitallearning.com

Tech & Learning:
I have to admit that sometimes this site drives me crazy...if you are easily frustrated by slow pages, you might steer clear. But, if you have patience, this site is so valuable! I read the e-zine (online magazine) to learn about new digital tools, education news, and enter contests to win more technology. The site also includes webinars, forums and videos.
http://www.techlearning.com/Default

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If you want to spend more effort making connections and even contributing to conversations, you might want to check out these sites. Although there is ample opportunity to make connections, don’t create too many accounts until you are ready.

We Are Teachers:
Constant opportunities to win technology, asking for your opinion, and sharing lots of great resources make this a site that I love to visit. There are grant opportunities, professional development resources, communities to join, and lots of ideas shared...all by teachers.
www.weareteachers.com

Follow individuals or organizations on Twitter:
If you are new to Twitter, don't worry about posting, but follow a few key people or organizations. Some suggestions:
  • WeAreTeachers
  • Google
  • PBS Teachers
  • Dean Phillips (Caddiscaster)
  • Diane Woodard (dianewoodard)
www.twitter.com

Edutopia:
There is so much to this site, be prepared to spend a good amount of time learning it if you have never been! This site is possible because of the George Lucas Foundation and its focus is creativity paired with technology in education. This is an amazing resource!
www.edutopia.org/

Google Groups:
This is a great tool if you are interested in connecting and sharing information with people who have the same interests, hobbies, or philosophies as you. You can find a Google Group for everything from knitting and cooking to education and technology. You must have a Google account to participate.
groups.google.com

Tech 4 Learning:
Although some of this site is sales oriented and they push their products in a lot of the documentation, the products are good, the information is great, and you can get a ton of classroom ideas here. Lots of lessons and resources that you can start using right away - one of my favorite is the Picts4Learning photo gallery. This is a collection for education by educators and students.
http://www.tech4learning.com/


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Manage multiple email addresses, have information you want to share, and want to stay up on the latest technology conversations? You might want to join and participate in these sites. If you want to belong to multiple groups, be sure to set up notifications so that you don’t have to visit the site to get updates.

ISTE Community:
As a member of ISTE, you get a few perks, like discounts on books and access to special interest groups. BUT...ISTE makes available for everyone the national educational technology standards. You can also join the ISTE Ning community and participate in forums.
http://www.iste-community.org/


CILC:
If you are interested in connecting with other educators from around the world and collaborating on different global projects, CILC is a clearinghouse for educators to post and reply to such requests. There are fee-based collaboration opportunities as well as free. It is pretty clear which is which. You can subscribe to different collaboration opportunities so that you receive a digest of new projects weekly.
www.cilc.org

Educator’s PLN:
This is an award-winning Ning (social network) that is specifically for educators (obviously). This is a smaller social network than Classroom 2.0, so you don't feel as lost...although there is a wealth of information and opportunities to share and connect with other educators. I guess this just has a bit more focus than Classroom 2.0.
http://edupln.ning.com/

LinkedIn:
If you are not familiar with this tool, LinkedIn is a professional social site. Although most of the customers of this tool reside outside the United States, there are a lot of people from the US joining and you will make connections with a lot of people you know when you join.  You start by posting your professional profile and the tool suggests connections based on your information. So it might suggest other people who are also teachers or who teach in your area (connections would have an account). I have joined several groups on LinkedIn to connect with other Technology Integration Specialists from around the world. It is fun and informative to communicate with them.
www.linkedin.com

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So, no matter what site you choose or how many sites you sign up on, the important thing to remember is you can make connections in this global society and shrink the size of the world to fit into your classroom. You can become better informed, create connections for yourself and your students, and really enjoy meeting people from around the globe.

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