PLN Challenge #9 Back to the Classroom! (of 2.0)

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This guest post is written by Anne Mirtschin a teacher who is  passionate about immersing technology in the classroom, eLearning, global and rural education. This is post #10 in the “30 Days to a Whole New PLN” challenge! Now that you’ve started building your PLN,  get even more globally connected by joining one of the biggest classrooms in the world.

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.

Wordle from current classroom2.0 page

The above word cloud was made by highlighting the screen of classroom2.0, copying and pasting into wordle.

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.

  1. Chrissy Hellyer from New Zealand  taught us how to create a wiki, sharing the power that interactivity, connectedness and collaboration can bring. See anzacconnection
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 so many more wonderful stories that could be shared.

And now for the long tail!:

  1. 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.
  2. Through the resultant friendship with Steve Hargadon, he encouraged me to be a co-moderator and organiser of eT@lking, online webinars 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

  1. Ensure your profile has enough information to encourage others to consider and add you as a friend
  2. Lurk, lurk and lurk! Watch the discussions, search the tools, subjects or areas that you may be into help,  network and share existing knowledge.
  3. Introduce yourself on the  Introductions  discussion.
  4. Watch the discussion thread on “Introductions” and befriend some of the others who may be like-minded across a number of countries.
  5. Make friends where possible.
  6. When confident actively join in the conversations and discussions.
  7. Add your own discussion topic
  8. Write some blog posts (these can be cross posted from your existing blog).
  9. Set up an RSS feed for the discussions you are interested in.
  10. Return regularly
Your Challenge:
  1. Goto Classroom2.0 and seek out the current discussions/forums and blog posts. Write a blog post in relation to one of the forum discussions
  2. Check out a tool, subject or area that might be of interest to you. Write a blog post on an element of one of these.
  3. Join classroom2.0 and develop a strong profile, adding some links to your online presence eg blogs etc.
  4. Customise your page See shamblesguru page as an example.
  5. Find at least 5 members who come from different countries, add a comment to their page, with a question to encourage further conversations, request friendship.  Find me on classroom2.0 and leave me a comment!
  6. Look for any global projects that might be offered. Consider joining one of them.
  7. Join a group that interests you.
  8. Write a blog post answering the some or all of the following questions. Are you a member of classroom2.0? If so, what are your favourite stories of connecting at this ning? Or are you a member of another ning or networking group that you have found beneficial? If so, what benefits or learning outcomes have resulted?  What would you see as the major benefits of being part of a global networking site?
  9. Add a comment back to this post with links to your classroom2.0 page or blog posts that you might write as a result of this.
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!
About the author

In 2011, Anne teaches accounting and information technology to senior classes at Hawkesdale P12 College, a small rural prep to year 12 school, although in previous years she has taught prep through to year 12 students.   One day a week, Anne is a web conference coach for the Innovations and Next Practise division of the Victorian Education Department. Anne is a welcoming host for classroom2.0 and co- organizes and co-moderates two weekly educational webinars (which are free) – Tech Talk Tuesdays and eT@lking

11 thoughts on “PLN Challenge #9 Back to the Classroom! (of 2.0)

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  2. Anne
    This is a very helpful post and I intend setting some goals with the suggestions you give. I am ashamed to say I joined Classroom 2.0 2 years ago but let it slide. I didn’t get connected there. Now however with a little more confidence with the linking I have done in the last few years through the various challenges presented, I am going to start and with the steps you suggest I suspect I will be more successful.

    • Hi Kathryn, I think there are so many ways that people can get networked today. There are a wide variety of nings etc to join and there is no way that we can keep up with them all.
      Classroom2.0 was almost a trail blazer in this area 5 years ago. Twitter was not invented yet! So, networking on this site was precious!
      Once networked, I also let my interest in updates in classroom2.0 slide, unless there was a topic that I wanted more information on. However, I was made a welcoming host, which activated the interest, kept me coming back and helped me to further build networks.
      However, due to the size of the membership it is losing its intimacy, yet some of the trail blazers in adapting technology in the classroom are still active and support the rich conversations that go on there.
      Time as always, is the essence and this classroom is always there when there is time to learn of great things.

    • Thanks Kathryn for your comment. I also, let my membership slide and have joined so many different sites that I forget for much of the time where I belong. However this ning has so much to offer, with its huge membership, which just keeps on growing, and the regular, infectious activity that occurs on classroom2.0.

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  5. Thanks so much Anne for this post. You have provided me with a “guide” which is what I’ve been needing for this site. I’ve visited it in the past and got a bit overwhelmed with how much there was going on, and really didn’t know where to start. So, thank you!

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Tracy, there is an amazing amount of activity going on at this site. It can be daunting especially for those who are new, but after browsing through and lurking for a while a sense of direction and opportunity can be had. The best way to use it i is to become interactive, involved and communicative with the other members.

    • Hi Tracy, I agree that it can be very daunting and over powering especially for those who are new to the online networking environment. I also admit that although I am a welcoming host that time is always the essence and I do not follow the conversations as much as I should. However, it is only by interacting, connecting and contributing that amazing and rewarding outcomes can be had.

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