Monday, June 26, 2017

Musings of a Tech Coach: Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing can be defined as the practice of obtaining information or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet. Crowdsourcing is something we often do without even thinking about it. In the EdTech world, crowdsourcing is your best friend. EdTech moves, evolves and changes very rapidly and it is impossible to be up to date on all strategies, platforms, devices, programs and apps. 

For those of you who are new to the concept of crowdsourcing, here is a little, recent testimonial from my personal experience. 

Flipgrid is a new app/program that I am completely unfamiliar with. I hear people raving about out in the Twitterverse all the time. I could do my own research and look for tutorials, but knowing so many people in PLN who are familiar with it, why not ask them? Why not pick their brains about the successes and failures of their experience with Flipgrid? 

I did, and the responses and resources were swift, helpful and dynamic.

Below are the responses to my crowdsourcing Tweet inquiring for help on Flipgrid.

Within a day, I got all these response chalkful with tips, links to resources, links to blogs and more. At this point, I still have not gotten through them all, but crowdsourcing allowed me to access curated resources for my wonderful PLN. The next time you need help with something EDU or EdTech, crowdsource to your PLN. Even better, crowdsource to your students. If you don't know how do something techie, you likely have students in your room who can help. Empower them and watch your, and their, learning grow. 

Musings of a Tech Coach: Hashtags are like "Bat Signals"

I honestly cannot remember where I heard this metaphor. If this is your idea, please contact me and I'll gladly give you credit. That being said I freaking love this metaphor. Hashtags are totally like Bat Signals for your classroom, professional learning and student work. 

When Batman sees the Bat Signal, he comes running to the rescue. But let's focus on something other than what Batman does when the Bat Signal flashes in the sky. What about the people of Gotham or the general public on Twitter? How do they react? When your hashtag appears in a search or on someone's post in your feed, how do they react? 

I imagine the people of Gotham, upon seeing the Bat Signal in the sky, having thoughts of adventure running through their minds. They wonder if they'll get to see a glimpse of the Caped Crusader in action. I know I get a similar feeling when I see certain hashtags appear in my Twitter feed. Hashtags that evoke such feelings include #ditchbook, #tlap, #tosachat, and more. Seeing these hashtags pique my interest about the conversation going on and the edu-amazing people sharing their thoughts, ideas, and resources.

Having started a hashtag and Twitter edchat of my own, #cvtechtalk, I have heard similar feedback from regular participants. They look forward to the chat and often share on Twitter using the hashtag even when we are not doing the weekly edchat.  

This feedback and my own feelings towards my favorite hashtags prompted me to attempt this in my classroom with students. I use class and or class period hashtags to promote student work. I want students to see the hashtag(s) and swell with pride. I want them to wonder what the conversation is and engage in it. Imagine the swell of pride if their hashtags develop a following. 

Part of adolescent development is their sense of "being on stage". Giving students an authentic audience on social media whether it be Twitter, Instagram, etc. can leverage this stage of their growth and development. Adolescents "being on stage", to me, means they always think someone is watching. This leads them to really try to show the best version of themselves. Posting work, thoughts and ideas on social media is like being on stage. It is my belief that students will try harder if they know people around the world are watching. That is one of the benefits of an authentic audience. 

Do you have a hashtag for your class? Is it like a Bat Signal? Does or will it evoke feelings of adventure, empowerment and pride for you and your students?