Be More Than a Brand

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Social media has offered the opportunity for every individual to create their own brand in a much larger world.  Rather than having a community identity, we have the opportunity to have a global one.  I have read about, talked about, and seen the importance of branding.  Creating a brand is something I have done myself, I had worked on creating for my school, and I continue to do through my various social media platforms.  Branding has its benefits in both the school community and in the larger world, but what is the cost of our branding?

At this point each of us who actively participate in Social media networks are taking part in creating our brand.  We do so wittingly or not.  Everything we say, post, like, or share says a little about how we are and what we value.  Our brand is carved in the echoes of messages, 140 characters at a time.  What we present to the world is how we are judged.  It is important to be conscious of this fact.  It is important not only to understand it, but to leverage it when we can.  The more conscious we are, however, of our facade, the more likely we are to start disengaging from what made social media a meaningful outlet for many of us, personal connections.  At the end of the day, social media was built with the premise of creating social experiences for a wider world.  As more people grow ever conscious of their branding through the use of social media, I am starting to see less personal connections being made.  Many people would rather protect their image, protect their brand, than have a meaningful discussion.

I know my social media is seen.  I know it reflects on who people think I am.  That is why I maintain a constant.  In using social media, I am myself.  Each post, tweet, or share represents a little piece of who I really am.  If you were to meet me in person, those posts are similar to the person you get.  I am happy to share, open to discussing, frequently ask questions, make mistakes, have a love/hate relationship with auto-correct, make jokes, do lots of different things, and love to help other people.  I can be very silly, but always eager to tackle serious conversations.  I am curious and tend to ask questions.  If you read through my feeds, this is what you will hopefully see.  I don’t tend to worry much about my social media brand, because I am myself.  Yes I am mindful of what I put out into the world, but I am also honest.  You will not see a false mask, but the whole human being.  While many people will gloss over themselves to present the perfect image, I honestly feel that does all of us a disservice.  Greatness doesn’t come from being a perfect brand, it comes from being much more.

As the concept of branding continues to spread, and rightly so, keep in mind your purpose.  My purpose is to develop great personal connections to people around the world.  I seek an opportunity to learn from them, to find mentors, to be a mentor, and ultimately be more. You can do social media, do branding and still be something so much more than a brand.  You can be yourself.

 

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Learning in a Virtual World

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Over the past few weeks I have both introduced my students to, and spent a significant amount of time working with my students in Virtual Reality using CoSpaces. CoSpaces has allowed me and my students to learn together in a new way.  Creating in three dimensions presents its own challenges.  Seeing, imagining, and creating a  virtual world in three dimensions enabled me to rethink what our students can do to demonstrate their learning.

Part of this came from my longtime desire to create a VR Breakout Edu game.  While I did create one (Who Moved EdCampNJ) I am still not quite at my goal of making the game independent of anything other than the virtual reality format.  While working to create this, and testing some other fun creations out with my students using CoSpaces I had some amazing experiences.  I gave my classes some basic instructions on how to create using the program and how the block coding work.  Then with some very simple guidelines (ie: demonstrate figurative language, create a chain reaction like a Rube Goldberg machine to launch a rocket) they made the concepts their own.  Not only did I get some incredible responeses, their creativity and story telling ability shined.  During this time my classes inspired me with their ability to use the VR platform and some basic block code to create a story  I was also impressed with the suggestions they were making to improve the program.  On the other side, I was incredibly impressed with how CoSpaces has made those adjustments.  Within weeks and sometimes days of suggestions that either came from me, or my students, the company had created some new variations that made the program even better.

I wanted to post some of their incredible creations for others to see, but I didn’t want to post students’ full names on Twitter.  I can however, leave the links here without having their names posted. So I am going to link a few fantastic creations.  When my students realized they were able to create in a real, virtual reality environment, many were extremely excited.  Some of them even went on to create other things to share with me beyond their assignments.  I am loving the way they have taken to creating within the program and I am excited to see how they share their knowledge with others through creating in VR.

Here are a few great CoSpaces creations from 7th and 8th grade students.  Keep in mind the 7th graders had about 20 minutes to learn and create.  The 8th grade had a little over an hour.  This took plenty of trial and error, learning, and creativity from these students.  They not only learned a new tool, but also demonstrated a new concept with a new way to create.  There were plenty of failures, but very few who actually surrendered to it.  In the end I am extremely proud of the great things they did.  There are many more, but here are some samples of their creations.

Figurative Language (7th Grade)

https://cospac.es/4EPP

https://cospac.es/hlfV

8th Grade: Chain Reaction to Launch a Rocket

https://cospac.es/5wUS

https://cospac.es/AhGJ

https://cospac.es/39sW

https://cospac.es/9n4Y

https://cospac.es/4pHv

https://cospac.es/CytB