If I was to summarize my journey in this class in one simple phrase I would have to say that this class has been all about the footsteps I am making in the digital world. For many years I had been taking baby steps into this new world, but this I think that this class has really encouraged me to discover new ideas, develop a learning network, and make connections in a way that I would not have on my own. My digital footprint has most definitely grown this semester and I hope that it does not stop growing while I continue taking steps in the digital world.
One of the biggest steps I have made through this course was the realization that my lifelong professional goal will be to be a master learner. And through being a master learner I need to learn how to not integrate technology, but to integrate literacy. I don’t think that we really have to teach kids how to use the technology in general – they know way more about the tools, programs and interactive games than we do anyways – but we teachers need to teach them how to find information online, understand what they are reading, and critically evaluate before deciding if it is true. This is how we will prepare them for their future. Their unknown future. Their future, not ours.
But in order for me to become a master learner I first of all have to discover – who am I? And who am I online? My entire personal learning experience through this class has been all about that – building my digital identity. My screen name is sarahhill05 and I think that this name has really became like a second name for me. I find myself often referring to Alec, Dean, and Kristina as their screen names, and when attending the iT summit conference, on many occasions I did not know who a person was until I was able to relate their real name to their screen name on Twitter.
I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant about forming a digital identity in January – I was nervous about sharing ‘too much’ and have someone steal my real life identity. But now after a bit of experience with building it, I have become quite comfortable with the idea of having a known digital identity. I think I owe it all to Twitter – without it I wouldn’t have been able to build the PLN that I did. My friend and colleague Kristina feels the same way. She has done a really nice reflection on it which you should read if you have not done so already.
Since we all know what Twitter is, I won’t get into what it is in this presentation; however, it you want to know more about it then please check out our wikispace page to learn a bit more about it and how to use it in your classroom.
Through Twitter I was not only able to build my PLN, but was able to learn about other people’s latest discoveries and blog posts and post a links to my own blog posts that I have been posting since the start of this class. I think I have close to 40 posts now, which definitely exceeds the limit that I had to meet for this class and shows that I truly enjoyed this assignment and took full advantage of the experience.
With my blog I was able to see that I really did have an audience. Watching my blog stats go up and the spots on my clustr map grow and increase in numbers was proof of that. I was receiving comments, both positive and critical, and I found it really rewarding to realize that people in my professional learning network were actually interested in what I had to say. Some people commented regularly and I would assume that it was because they were notified when I posted a new entry. Someone may have subscribed to my blog! What a complement.
On my blog I posted and reflected on many of the steps I was taking in embracing the tools available online. If you have read my blog at all you would see that I have used Voicethread, different Google Apps, Wordle, Glogster, Vocaroo, wikispaces, Jing, and much more. The professional growth that I have experienced has definitely left me with a ton of ideas for my classroom next year.
One of the best ideas that I was left with was the idea of communicating with other students via a blog or other form of an e-journal. I communicated a few times with Kelly Hines‘ class in Washington, North Carolina on this blog and received nothing but positive feedback from her about it. Her students loved answering the questions I posted for them and loved seeing the snow when I called them on Skype.
The kids were also able to see me as me – not just who I am online. If these kids were to connect with me again in a few years time they will realize that my real life identity and my digital identity will have changed. Identities are constantly shifting and I expect mine to change immensely even over the course of the next year through the growth I will be experiencing with the support and encouragement from my PLN. In the years to come I will continue to expand my digital footprint. I will continue becoming a master learner – a master learner who will never stop learning.