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Recently, we were talking about the value of online book clubs and online communities of practice as sources of professional development. Another great resource for early childhood educators who are looking for individualized support, that’s available at your convenience, 24/7 is Twitter. This microblogging platform allows educators to connect, share, and discuss ideas, concerns, and questions in short, 140 character messages.
You might have heard that Twitter is only for celebrities or people who are interested in telling the world what they’re doing every moment of the day but we’re here to tell you that Twitter is much more than that! It’s a social network that’s perfect for educators because first, it’s free and second, it provides a virtual space for educators around the world to easily engage in pedagogical discussions that aren’t always possible in the isolation of a school. To help you get started, we wanted to discuss five of our favorite hashtags for early educators interested in educational technologies:
- #ECETech(Chat) – This hashtag (#ecetech) and the related chat (#ecetechchat is every Wednesday at 9pm EDT) is for early childhood educators who are interested in learning more about technology integration and ways to use it in developmentally appropriate ways in the classroom. Join the chat to discuss new topics (e.g., tech tools for math education, the digital divide) each week!
- #EdTech – The #edtech hashtag is very popular and used by professionals across the field of education to share new tech tools, troubleshoot technical issues with implementing technologies in the classroom, and discuss issues relating to using technology in education.
- #iPadEd/#EdApps – These two hashtags are for educators who are interested in learning more about how to use iPads in education and what apps are appropriate to use on them. Follow these hashtags to learn about new approaches to iPad integration, 1:1 tablet programs, and educational apps.
- #mlearning – Similar to #ipaded, this hashtag focuses on tablets and any other devices that allow for mobile learning. It’s a great way to find out how teachers are using different devices in the classroom, what suggestions they have for integrating students own devices (e.g., BYOD: bring your own device), and additional educational app suggestions.
- #Web20 – If you’re looking for new web 2.0 tools or suggestions on how to use them to enhance learning and facilitate collaboration, then this hashtag is for you! Use it when you want to share a new tool or try one in your classroom and get advice from other educators who are using it as well.
You can find a more extensive list of hashtags we often use when tweeting about technology in our Google Spreadsheet. If you have other favorite hashtags or suggestions, let us know in the comments below! If you’re looking for more general hashtags and Twitter chats to follow, check out the library of educational hashtags @cybraryman1 has compiled.
A few months ago, we wrote a blog post on our sister site, Early Childhood Investigations, about the potential and power of learning communities. The idea for the post was sparked by an upcoming presentation by Ellen Galinsky, who was a guest presenter for a webinar in the Early Childhood Investigations series. She discussed ten key characteristics of learning communities, many of which are applicable in online spaces. Our favorite three for online spaces are:
- Focus on learning from and with each other and share a belief that there is expertise among us all.
- Focus on active learning that is experiential and engages participants in self-reflection and self-discovery.
- Use new media to connect in creative ways.
A number of learning communities (online and face-to-face) began to form around Mind in the Making, and now, with the launch of the Early Childhood Technology Network Booknet, we realized that we have the opportunity to create our own online learning community through our summer book club. Although online book clubs are not a new phenomenon, they are just starting to become popular in the field of early childhood. Previously, many groups have gathered around Mind in the Making and organizations such as the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education have used online spaces for book discussions.
This summer in particular, there are at least two books clubs that are actively taking place online for early childhood educators interested in discussing technology. One is the Booknet here, where we will be reading and discussing Digital Decisions: Choosing the Right Technology Tools for Early Childhood Education by Fran Simon and Karen Nemeth and the other is the Book Study Blog Party, which is reading Teaching in the Digital Age: Smart Tools for Age 3 to Grade 3, by Brian Puerling.
The two book clubs are taking a slightly different format, one is more blog-based and the other is built around online discussion forums and live author chats, but they both provide an exciting opportunity to take part in an online professional learning community. If you are often online and interested in technology, you have probably heard the term “PLN” or “Personal/Professional Learning Network.”
Joining an online book club is a great way to build or expand your own PLN and connect with other educators and readers who are specifically interested in examining a topic in more detail by reading and discussing a shared book. To get a sense of the discussions happening around Digital Decisions and to add your own thoughts, you can check out the responses to chapters one and two that will be posted this week. You might post questions, examples of technology based activities you have used, or resources to share. Reading the book and posting on the Digital Decisions Booknet might also be a way for you to document your professional development hours.
There are many ways to build a PLN and joining a book club is just one of them. If you’re interested in learning more about PLNs and various technology tools you can use to connect with others, take a look at this post.
What is this Site?
A membership commmunity for realiable information about technology in early education.
Who We Are
Karen Nemeth, Ed.M. and Fran Simon, M.Ed. - early learning experts with a passion for helping educators use technology to achieve their goals.
We designed ECETech.net to give early childhood educators an easy online resource for reliable information about technology implementation.