Groups, Circles, & Hashtags.


I think that I have been pretty lucky professionally to be part of the excellent communities and groups that I am in. I also think that I have worked hard to build knowledge and capacity in specific areas that have enabled me to gain access to these outstanding communities.

This week Apple informed lucky and no doubt very hard working teachers around the globe that they were successful in becoming part of the ADE, or Apple Distinguished Educator, community. Since having been part of this outstanding group of educators since 2013, it has certainly allowed me to grow a lot professionally in not only how I can better use Apple technologies, but more so how I can use those technologies to improve my teaching and improve student learning, which really, is all that matters, especially to me. There’s no point being part of something if it is not going to have a positive impact on those we teach.

Prior to being part of the ADE family I was part of the Google Certified Teacher academy in 2011. Another amazing group of people who are dedicated to the students they teach and use the tools that they have at their disposal to assist their learning in a ridiculous amount of ways.

On top of both the ADE and GCT communities, the 3rd installment, and the first to come along, is the truly remarkable PLN that I have developed via Twitter since 2010. Having access to over 1,600 educators, leaders, thinkers, and so on that I follow, and that number grows weekly, Twitter as a tool has led me to have access to a large cohort of people from whom I learn from and share with every single day. The knowledge learned via the ADE and GCT communities is largely shared via Twitter and often G+ also.

The whole ‘Twitter’ thing for me steamed from a Conference Workshop ran by Steve Wheeler in Christchurch in 2010. Steve spoke about the power and importance of growing an online PLN and Twitter being an excellent tool for this. I still have those notes that I took from that workshop. Notes that I have used in my own presentation, discussions, and conversations with teachers about why it is such a good idea to get ‘tweeting’.

As Steve mentioned in that workshop, “Twitter acts as an amplifier for knowledge and items that are posted that are helpful, amusing and friendly, go a long way to building an effective PLN”.

In the very early days of being part of each community respectively, it is very fair to say that I was caught up in the whirlwind that is being part of something new. I am a massive fan of new and shiny things and for me being part of various groups and communities was like that. I wanted to, and very much did, act like a kid in a candy shop and or a shiny gadget loving guy in an Apple Store and engage with as much as I could as quick as possible.

It has taken time for me to adjust to ensure that my time spent engaging with these things is done so in a way that through the knowledge I gain benefits those around me, teacher and/or student. It was and is very easy to get caught up in the space that you are in. So in saying this, my advice for those out there wishing to gain access, or who have recently been accepted, into some form of educational organisation, group, community etc… is that never forget why and who you are doing it all for. If we can all take our new knowledge and share it accordingly then what a positive difference we can all make to the world of education.

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