Getting Started: Finding a Community
Your decision about where to begin will and should hinge on several factors – your own interests and passions, the learning goals you have in mind, your comfort level with technology, your students' access to and comfort level with technology, your students’ interests, and other factors that may not be immediately apparent. Choosing the best way to get started, however, may not be as important as finding others who can support you. But just as with writing, getting started is the key.
So, how did other teachers start? What encouraged or impelled them to begin to use technology in their writing instruction? Where did they go for support? There are other Digital Is collections which share the stories of how particular teachers started with technology and why. The focus of this collection will be on how being part of a community can support you in your process of learning and using technology for your own and student learning. Highlighted here are several different types of communities that lend support to someone starting out and continuing to grow in her knowledge and use of technology.
We begin with the efforts of a Writing Project site that provided support for teachers in its local school district to learn and use technology. The opening video features teachers talking about the value and impact of this support. This is followed by a description of a session on filmmaking led by the tech leader, Gail Desler, responsible for bringing a grant and training to these teachers. Starting locally with teachers you know and who can provide immediate face-to-face support is a great benefit for anyone who doesn't feel confident about exploring new technologies. For many of us, it also provides the "push" we need to engage in new learning. What does your district, local writing project or school offer to teachers who want to use computers, cell phones, recorders and other digital tools in instruction?
Next, we hear from three teachers who create their own personal communities for continued technology learning. The first is a teacher, who with the experiences of a writing project summer institute and local technology professional development behind her, takes on the leadership to create her own community of English teachers who use Twitter for professional "conversations." Next is a high school English teacher who begins to use Twitter to connect with colleagues so that she can learn more about using technology for teaching. And we hear from a teacher who looked to her students as a tech community to support her and each other in the learning process. Finally we hear from an instructional coach at a large urban public school district explore the ways connected learning helps him make sense of what he sees happening in schools and learning today.
As with the tools, the communities are varied and ubiquitous. Through the resources collected here, you may find your way to a community that can help you pursue your goals digital literacy and connected learning.