Engaging in Professional Community

Participation in the professional community is key to being a great educator. The internet has allowed educators to connect and share ideas and successes with colleagues around the world. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, as well as various individualized communities exist that allow educators to come together and make good education great. The number of avenues for professional growth and development is endless. 

I very actively participate in a number of Professional (Personal) Learning Networks. Below is a graphic representation of the professional communities I am involved with, below that, an explanation of my involvement in each.

This graphic is representative of a clock, with more hours than there are in a day, to represent how I squeeze every minute I can out of a day. Each style of arrow indicates my level of involvement in the particular tool/community listed. I chose 4 levels of involvement, Active, Moderate, Marginal and not yet, because it would be unfair to claim to be more involved than I am. 

Actively Involved

I am most actively involved with my school community, Twitter, Intel Teachers Engage, NYSCATE, UW Stout and Gmail, which although a tool, allows me to reach out to educators I wouldn’t interact with otherwise. I interact with my colleagues at school on a regular basis, sharing ideas, stories and dreams for technology and information literacy skills. Although this happens most often face to face, it is one of the most important professional communities in which I am active. I tweet daily, and also follow several hashtags that deal with technology in education, mobile learning, online learning and librarianship. I write a monthly blog post, and moderate discussions in the Intel Teachers Engage Community. This is one of the most vibrant groups I am involved in, highly enthusiastic, global educators who bring new and exciting ideas to my world. NYSCATE (New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education) is an important group for me, and although their social media efforts lack, the conferences held are amazing. I present at and attend both the annual and the regional conferences. These conferences allow me to interact face-to-face with educators from around the state who are active in educational technology. Those connections also extend beyond the conferences to my other social networking activities on Twitter and Facebook. UW Stout is my most structured interaction, with this course and others I have taken, I interact with educators around the world, exchanging ideas and theories about learning and education. GMAIL, of course, is the tool that I use to connect with educators who just aren’t in to social media.

Moderately Involved

I am moderately involved in Scoop.it, where I curate articles, tweets, videos and stories about 4 different topics, as well as follow several other Scoopers for the latest in educational technology news. Content curation is not only a great way to connect with other professionals, but also a great way to get student involved with finding their own learning materials based on a topic they are interested in. When students take control of their own learning, and are asked to find sources of information, they are employing valuable Information Literacy Skills. I created 4 Scoop.it magazines, because I found that there was not one broad topic I wanted to stick with. I want to learn about a number of things that relate to technology and eLearning. My Scoop.it magazines can be found and followed here: 
Scoop.it Magazine: eLearning and Libraries
Scoop.it Magazine: Augmented Reality in K12 Education
Scoop.it Magazine: Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools
Scoop.it Magazine: Cell Phones in Education

Typically, I have relied on annotated bibliographies in the old fashioned sense to get my students to interact with articles and information on their topics. In the future, I would use a tool such as Scoop.it or Paper.li, where students can gather their information and share it with others. I would also consider using a social bookmarking tool such as Diigo or Delicio.us, where students can work together in pairs or groups to socially create an annotated list of resources on a given topic.

Marginally Involved

I am marginally involved in Facebook, Paper.li, PNWBOCES, NYLA and Schoology. I occasionally post queries to fellow librarians on Facebook, and respond to theirs. I mainly use it to remain personally socially active with librarians I have met over the years, but it occasionally comes in handy for a quick questions. For example, I wanted an original image of an old fashioned card catalog for my visual resume, so I posted a plea, and had original images the next day. I follow Anne Bell, a professor from UW Stout, who produced a Paper.li on mobile learning, a topic I am working with in my district. I am a consumer of this information, and share it out via other outlets (Gmail, Twitter, etc). PNWBOCES is my local Board of Cooperative Education Services, and I am a member of the list-serv for school librarians, which I read, and sometimes participate in. NYLA (New York Library Association) is a group that I am just starting to get involved in. As of now, I am scheduled to present at the Annual Conference. I hope to become more involved with the group after that to be sure I am staying up to date with Library trends in addition to technology trends. Schoology is the LMS we use in my school, and there is a community of educators from around the world that I belong to. I occasionally answer posts, or post my own questions to the group.

Becoming Involved

I am not overly involved in Google+ or LinkedIn. I have 2 Google+ accounts, one for my library, and one personal. My library has 4 in our circle (yay us!) from our school, but the profile was just created a few months ago. My personal Google+ I have about 20 in my circles, but I just have not made the leap to the platform yet. I have posted a few times, and tried to follow a few groups, it just hasn’t struck a chord with me yet. Finally, I have created a profile on LinkedIn, and started to make connections with those I know in the professional world, but have not started exploring the vast resources offered.