Week 4: Commenting & Extending Your Reach

Welcome to Week 4!

The focus of this week is understanding the community involvement element of Course 5. The idea behind this element of the course is to give you the time and focus to build your own PLN. Although it does take time, building a PLN can be the best professional development you can get – and taking the time to make those personal connections can impact your own future more than you might initially think. For those that already have an established PLN, a great way to demonstrate your COETAIL community involvement is to help new COETAILers by engaging them in conversations, supporting their learning, and generally helping them feel welcome to our community.

COETAIL Community Involvement (25%)

For this element of the course, we expect you to continue on your own to stay involved in the COETAIL community while building your own PLN. There are new COETAILers who need your support and encouragement. There are groups and discussions around specific tools and topics, and of course your own blog in which you can continue to share your own learning as you work on your final project and teaching in general. There is Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook….the list goes on and on.

You are responsible to show that you have been involved in the community. Use the Course 5 tab in your Google Grade sheet to show your evidence of COETAIL Community Involvement and the building of your own PLN. Although there is no minimum requirement, those that stay involved the most throughout the course find their final project/presentation easier. The constant encouragement and staying actively involved keeps the creative juices flowing. In your final presentation, as well as one of your blog posts for this course, you will have to reflect on this building of your PLN and your involvement in an online learning community whether that is on the COETAIL site, twitter, or other social network.

Your level of Community Engagement will be assessed using this rubric.

Deadline

You may make these connections at any time during the course (and document them in your spreadsheet as you make them). However all connections must be added to your spreadsheet  by November 24th.

Ideas for Getting Connected

Staying involved in the COETAIL community is a very open-ended concept. We want you to build the network that works for you, but we also need to make sure that the connections you’re creating and sustaining are documented. Here are some suggestions from previous COETAILers:

  • Have a conversation (a conversation means a back and forth – more than just one tweet to a person) via Twitter, either replying to someone else’s tweet or starting a conversation on your own. You can follow the list of COETAILers and start interacting with people that have similar interests, or you can use the #coetail hashtag to join an existing conversation. If you’d like to use a Twitter conversation as one piece of evidence, make sure you either include a direct link to the conversation (like this), or you take a screenshot of the sustained conversation.
  • Start or join a group on the COETAIL site. There are lots of existing groups already, so you can either find one that interests you, or create your own. The key to making an impact in a group is to try to engage with members in meaningful conversation (just like with Twitter). That might mean you specifically address an individuals comment and go from there, or you might want to promote your group in other social networking spaces to see if you can build membership to make the group more engaging. Document your participation with either a direct URL (like this) or a screenshot of your involvement.
  • Use Google+ (or other social network) to build a community. Quite a few graduates have created communities (often in Google+) for COETAILers that have been really useful. One great example is this Course 5 community that Vivian (one of our graduates and current COETAIL coach) set up when she was in Course 5. Of course, you don’t have to create an entirely new group, you can demonstrate your active involvement in an existing group (make sure to share either a direct URL or a screenshot of your involvement).
  • Actively participate in the forums on the COETAIL site. These are more focused discussions about a specific topic, rather than a general group. There are quite a few forum discussions already started that you can join, or you can start posting some of your own. Either way, the goal is to connect with others and build a conversation, rather than just putting ideas out there without a conversation. It’s always worth looking through existing forum discussions to see if others have already started a topic you’re interested in, that way you can build on existing conversations. Document your participation with either a direct URL (like this) or a screenshot of your involvement.

There is no specific list of things you need to do for this element of the course, these are just a few examples that have worked for others. The most important part is that you’re building community, connecting with other COETAILers, and documenting your involvement on your spreadsheet and in your blog. If you’re not sure about what to document or how to do it, let us know!