Last semester I began to fertilize and plant my own social network. Over the course of this semester, I feel that I have watered my social network and it is finally ready to bloom. I am more connected now than I have been in the past two years. I also feel that expanding my social network has helped me develop relationships with colleagues, both face to face and online. I am now up to date on current trends in education and am far more willing to share my own knowledge with others. In fact, I feel more confident in myself as a teacher and as a professional. The tools that I have learned about in this class have helped me to pull many various websites, etc., together in a meaningful, purposeful fashion.
I think that I have changed my views on how and what to teach my students. I have always valued the need to teach them things - states, capitals,plant structure, etc. Now I realize I need to focus more of my attention on encouraging them to learn how to analyze, comprehend, share, and find information. They need to be able to not only use today's tools, but be able to use future tools. Information is going to be coming at them from many different sources, and they will need to be able to critically evaluate sources, content and usage. They need to be willing to connect to others and feel confident in sharing their ideas.
I have always felt that part of my job was to help create positive, contributing members of society. Now I realize that my students are moving in two worlds - the "real" world and the digital world. I want them to be positive, contributing members of both worlds. I want them to use the tools available to them responsibly.
The task before me is heavy. How can I sort through the tools out there and use appropriate ones to help my students develop into learners and connected citizens? I think that modeling the appropriate use of these tools is a good place to start, but I need to get my students using these tools in my classroom more often. I need to be more open to helping them use new tools, rather than fear what might go wrong. I need to encourage them to be flexible thinkers and use problem solving strategies when technology isn't quite working right.
The most important thing I have carried away from this class is that I need to develop learners who are confident enough to connect with the world and have the skills to do so in a meaningful way.