Socializing professionally is not like chatting with folks over the holidays. The goal here is to decrease work wile at the same time increasing student performance. Here are some tips on how to use the online community to reduce your workload and improve your teaching. There are three main ways to go social on the internet. First, you can get in with a group and just wait to see what goodies show up. That's what most teachers do. Second, you could interact with some of the people in your group by answering some questions or making a comment here or there. The third and most time consuming activity is to actually share some of your ideas, ask some questions or publish some lesson plans.
Like I said earlier, the majority of us use the internet as a sort of treasure box filled with goodies. We go in, find some wonderful ideas for a class we're doing and move on to our grading or call some parents. I personally like to get ideas over email. As a member of NSTA, I get to be on a listserve for biology, chemistry and technology teachers. For anyone not familier with the term, a listserve is an email service which lets you send and receive email to and from a group. I never read new emails. Instead, I treat it as an idea bank. When I need a new idea for an upcoming lesson, I go into the folder I've stored them in and just perform a key word search.
|Using Gmail, I can easily find what I need.|
Reacting to content
The next most common way teachers use the internet is to interact with others online. This means going to sites to get the answer to a question you have or perhaps to comment on what someone has written in a blog or post. These sorts of sites about and include Yahoo Answers, Linkedin, or one of the many other sites found here. Perhaps my favorite place to interact with teachers is Edumodo.
By far the most rewarding thing that you can do online is create content. This means publishing your ideas, writing articles and advising other teachers. Of course, this is going to be the most time consuming and will require far more effort on your part. The benefits are huge, though. Giving over your ideas will tend to prompt others to give you their stuff. It becomes a virtuous circle. If you are going to be sharing your ideas, I would use Blogger, Diigo or Edmodo.