Tag Archives: Facebook

My Insider Tips for Getting #ECETech Updates

 

This week during #ecetechchat, we’re planning to discuss and share where we get the inside scoop on the latest trends, tools, and reports on technology in early childhood education. In preparation for the chat, I thought I would take some time to record some of my “go-to” places I get news and learn about #ecetech resources online. To hear my favorite offline resources, join our chat on Wednesday night at 9pm EDT!

Social Media:

My top source of insider news almost always comes from one of my social networks. Every time I check Twitter, I learn something new and since I’m passionate about early childhood education and educational technology, many of the people in my PLN are also interested and tweeting about those topics. Not only do I learn more about resources I have heard of or tried before but I am constantly introduced to new websites, tools, and ways of integrating technology into the classroom by following current early childhood teachers, administrators, professors, and organizations using technology.

I think there are two key pieces to getting insider news from social media: broad networks and meaningful relationships.

Whether you’re “liking” Facebook pages, selecting Pinterest boards to follow, or joining new LinkedIn Groups, make sure you’re choosing networks that cover the entire range of your field of interest. Instead of just listening to one voice or perspective, try to find ways to hear what people in all areas of a field are discussing (e.g., developers, publishers, teachers, administrators, academics). This way you can both double-check your facts and hear new ways of thinking about or interpreting new tools, apps, and teaching approaches. But the work isn’t done after you’ve joined a bunch of groups. Next, you need to move to the relationship stage and begin really connecting with people in each group. Start responding to specific tweets that interest you or LinkedIn posts that make you think. By engaging in dialogue and sharing your own news and resources, you can create meaningful relationships through these networks that will not only help you to stay up-to-date about that latest #ecetech developments but will also help you to grow professionally as an educator and colleague.

Blogs:

Sometimes I’m looking for more in-depth information about a new tech tools, ways to use it in the classroom, or thoughts about whether specific technologies are appropriate for young children. That’s when I turn to my blogs. Sometimes I still use social media to learn about new posts but many times I just check my Google Reader to find out what bloggers are saying about technology in early childhood. Once again, I try to follow a mix of current teachers, developers (e.g., Kindertown’s Education Blog), and organizations. For example, I love learning from the #kinderchat teachers, many of whom blog frequently about their work with technology and global collaboration. I would recommend checking out their posts on #SkypePlay, iPad integration, Using ToonTastic, and Evernote e-portfolios to get an idea of what I mean. I also follow the Early Education Initiative, the Hatch Early Childhood Blog, and of course the Early Childhood Education Technology Network! To get the inside scoop, I look for blogs that are updated frequently with fresh content and thoughtful posts.

Websites:

I also check specific websites to learn about #ecetech news and events. A key one is the National Association for the Education of Young Children website, including their new website for families, since they recently released a new position statement on technology and set standards for the field. I also check the Erikson TEC Center and am excited for the ongoing development of that site as a technology resource for early educators. Similarly, I will look to Ele, created by the Fred Rogers Center, for new ideas about using technology. I have found a number of review sites are also a great resource to learn about new technologies: Mom’s with Apps, Free Tech for Teachers, CommonSense Media, and ICT Magic.

Where do you go to get the inside scoop on early childhood technology? 

 

Building an Infographic? Begin with a Blueprint.

infographic data

Recently, I had the chance to design and create my first infographic for some survey data collected on technology use in early childhood education. I was excited by the opportunity because it presented a new challenge and the chance to expand my tech skills in a new area.

I began, as I often do, with research. I reviewed some of my favorite infographics that I have saved on Pinterest to get a feel for what I was  looking for in my design. Then, I did a few Google searches to see what the top hits were for “creating infographics,” “designing your own infographic” and similar keywords. I was surprised at how old many of the top hits were, especially with sites like visua.ly recently launching their “create” function.

Still, after some digging I was able to find some good resources. There are a number of different sites that can help you create your own infographic. They vary in price and functionality and since I wasn’t interested in the $2,500 starting price for a custom infographic at visual.ly and needed to do more than pull data from Twitter or Facebook, I searched for other tools. I found infogr.am, which lets you choose from a few templates and then upload or add your data but there wasn’t an easy way to add my own icons, which was important for my design plan. Next, I discovered Piktochart and found that I could have a lot of flexibility with the colors, fonts, icons, and charts I used, even with their free service. Another platform, easl.ly, looks like it could also be promising but it’s still in beta and I found it after I had made my infographic and had some trouble with it freezing. Finally, this post on creating infographics just came out on 6/12 and has a number of additional resources.

Since I knew I wanted customized icons to clearly represent my data, I chose Picktochart as my platform and began to explore what was possible with the site and how to arrange my data. I quickly discovered that before I could make progress with my digital infographic, I needed to revert to old-fashioned pen and paper and sketch out a blueprint of my idea. In order for the content to be organized and flow methodically, I had to work out the connections between each piece of data and which ones were best displayed via a graph versus icons versus text. Ultimately, I used the key questions of: Who?, What?, When?, How?, and Why? (and why not?) to structure the flow of the data. Then after outlining everything on paper, I returned to Piktochart to put my blueprint into a digital format.

I adjusted the theme colors and fonts and then began searching Icon Archive for symbols that would represent my data (e.g., a smartphone). You can upload a maximum of 5 images under 1 MB using the free version of Piktochart and I have to say that when I ran into trouble deleting images (the trick is to delete them under Manage Uploads), their customer support was very responsive and helpful! After adding all of my icons and creating a systematic way of presenting each of my big questions, I reviewed my infographic in its entirety and asked a few colleagues to check it over. A second pair of eyes is always helpful to make sure the information will flow and make sense to another audience.

After that, I downloaded my infographic as an image (if you have the paid version you can also download the HTML) and now it’s ready for the world to see! You can find a small clip of it below and the full version is available on ecetech.net.

infographic

Taking Time Between Your Timelines – Because #YouMatter

Pocket watch, savonette-type. Italiano: Orolog...

Pocket watch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s that time again, time for one timeline to end and another to begin. We’ve all experienced these transitions, probably over and over throughout life but this time, I want to pause.

I want to take time between the ending of one timeline and the beginning of another to reflect on all that I’ve experienced, accomplished, learned, and shared.

Just a few weeks ago, the timeline of my master’s program came to an end and with it, the even longer timeline of my formal education (for now!). With that ending, came the end of my timeline living in Washington D.C. and the beginning of a new timeline in Philadelphia. In parallel to those timelines, I have been adding experiences and learnings to my professional consulting timeline, which has become the main frame for my work in Philly. And of course within each timeline are smaller timelines, such as Capstone projects or trips to Senegal, and when I stop to think about it, there is truly a lot of change, growth, and learning happening simultaneously in one’s life!

With that in mind, stopping to think and to reflect is exactly what I want to do. It’s so easy for one timeline to fade into the next. For me, transitioning from college to work to graduate school was almost seamless. There was not time (I thought) to pause and celebrate what I had done, consider the change I had created through various campus projects or to record hopes and goals for moving forward during the actual transitions. I often take time throughout my timelines to plan in advance, reflect on my experiences, and think deeply about larger professional goals, which has helped me bring together my various experiences and studies in early childhood, global education, and educational technology in a meaningful way. Yet rarely have I allowed, in addition to that planning and goal-setting, a bit of time for myself between transitions. Now, with the end of another academic timeline and the beginning of new professional experiences, I want to make the time to consider where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going next. I want to carve out time that in the past I have allowed to be so easily eaten up by other priorities (because doesn’t it seem like there’s always another task to finish, bill to pay, or idea to explore?).

Especially in our connected society, I succumb to the pressure to constantly check my email, chat with my Twitter PLN, finish that lingering project and then start a new one because it’s sitting there on my to-do list or popping up in my browser and I don’t want to fall behind. But what if we all take time to put that aside for a little bit and just think about why we matter, about what we’ve done and where we’re going next? As Angela Maiers says, You Matter, and by “mattering”, she suggests you should remember (taken directly from her blog):

  1. YOU ARE ENOUGH
  2. YOU HAVE INFLUENCE
  3. YOU ARE A GENIUS
  4. YOU HAVE A CONTRIBUTION TO MAKE
  5. YOU HAVE A GIFT THAT OTHERS NEED
  6. YOU ARE THE CHANGE
  7. YOUR ACTIONS DEFINE YOU IMPACT
  8. YOU MATTER!

These eight ideas are a lot to process, so that’s why I hope to take the next week or so to actively reflect on each one as I mark the ending of one timeline and the beginning of another. I hope others can take time to pause and notice their own timelines, big and small, because like me, you matter and together we can all encourage one another to remember that and to recognize the value of reflection in times of change.

Lessons Learned in Dakar

Two weeks ago, I was getting on a plane to Dakar, Senegal and a week after that, I was helping to launch the first conference on Child Protection Systems Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa. In that short time frame, I have learned an amazing amount about child protection and the unique issues its pioneers strive to overcome; the challenges of bringing new technologies to sub-Saharan Africa; the power of technology for global communication; and even a bit about the city of Dakar.

Working out of the UNICEF office in the days leading up to the conference.

Before I delve into some of the amazing experiences I had in Dakar, I’ll give you a little more background about what I was doing there in the first place. Working as a Technology and Education Consultant for Wellspring Advisors, LLC, I have been designing a social media campaign and building a wikispace to house the discussions and documents related to this conference over the past few months. Through numerous Skype meetings and emails, I worked with international agencies to organize what would ultimately be a conference of 350 people from 40 west African nations. It was exciting to see so many agencies, organizations, and funders come together around this topic. We had representatives from UNICEF, Save the Children, Plan International, The African Child Policy Forum, Terre des Hommes, REPSSI, RIATT, Oak Foundation, and other funders.

Conference on Child Protection Systems Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa – Promising Practices, Lessons Learned and the Way Forward

During the conference, I introduced attendees to the new technologies associated with the conference and helped them to actively use the wikispace to share session notes, upload documents, and ask questions or make comments. I learned that there is no pre-existing repository of documents on child protection (e.g., child abuse, exploitation, welfare, justice, marriage) in sub-Saharan Africa so our wiki now serves as a space to collect these from each country.

Additionally, I had the privilege to help many attendees join Twitter and Facebook for the first time so that they could begin sharing their knowledge and thoughts on child protection issues with the larger world via social media. It was inspirational to be reminded of how empowering it can be to gain access to a platform that allows you, with the click of a button, to connect and dialogue so easily with other people around the world. It was also very powerful to see the energy people had as I worked with them to resolve tech glitches and help them access these new spaces for expression and sharing. For many, it was a new experience to learn how social media could be used for professional networking and they were surprised to see how many people and accounts were following the conference online via the tweets and posts I made during each session.

@JNdyeta sends her first tweet after joining Twitter and Facebook at the Conference

Working in Dakar, I was also reminded about the challenges that arise from working abroad. We had a minimum of three languages at the conference (i.e., French, English, and Portuguese) and at times only one router for 350 people. And while Google Translate widgets can be a life-saver they’re still more of a tool than a full-fledged solution – as we discovered when attendees clicked the “edit” button in our wiki and all of their translated text converted back to English. I also encountered issues with firewalls trying to block Internet access and conference websites, problems pasting text into our wiki from foreign computers, and some other minor things that you come to expect when working with technology.

Attendees responded to reflection questions on the conference wiki

Yet, amidst all of the tech troubles, I think for me, the key of the conference was adaptability: Transitioning from “Thank You” to “Merci” in a French speaking nation; re-wording the benefits of Twitter in ways that made sense in our child protection conference context; and re-defining a wiki to fit the needs of attendees. Buy-in is always one of the most important pieces when you introduce a new technology but to have buy-in and the resulting motivation and hopefully momentum to continue its use, you need to communicate things in a way that makes sense. You need to adapt your own understanding and way of explaining a tool to fit the linguistic, geographic, cultural, and technical context in which you are working. This can take time, reflection, and a bit of mental exertion, but I can promise you, it’s worth it.

To see some of the amazing dialogues that occurred at the conference and which were then shared through social media, I invite you to visit the slideshows on our wiki.

And finally, I leave you with one of the many photos I snapped from the most western tip of Africa, because for me, regardless of the continent, the ocean will always be home.

The Western Most Tip of Africa in Dakar, Senegal.