Jessica V AllenTonight we are beaming in from Santiago, Chile. I am very excited about this week’s Friday Follow Twitter Interview. When I began following Jessica I sensed straight away that here was a very dedicated and special educator. Jessica is a widely traveled and inspirational teacher. You will surely benefit by including Jessica in your PLN. Jessica has responded to our questions in a thoughtful and entertaining manner. Let’s begin…

Please share a little about yourself with the readers.

Hi, my name is Jessica Vincent Allen and I am currently the PYP Curriculum Coordinator for Santiago College in Santiago, Chile. My journey to Chile started in 2000 when, after teaching in Arizona near the Native American Navajo reservation for a number of years, I decided to teach overseas. I initially landed in Egham, England, about 45 minutes SouthWest of London at a school named American Community School (ACS). I worked as the ICT teacher there for three years and met many wonderful people including my husband and fellow Friday Follow Interviewee @amichetti [Adrienne’s Friday Follow Twitter Interview].

After England, we moved to Singapore where I was initially the ICT teacher at Overseas Family School (OFS). In 2004 I was fortunate enough to receive training as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) workshop leader and begin my Masters in Educational Technology. After completing my studies, I became one of the curriculum coordinators of the school overseeing the PYP in grade 5 and specialists, including ICT.

During that time, I also managed to have two adorable children and meet another twitter pal, @klbeasley! From that time forward I have been passionate about trying to find a way to bring my two favorite interests, PYP and ICT, together in an educational setting.

In 2008 my husband and I decided we wanted to expose our children to a world of bilingual learning so we packed up again and landed here in Chile. We have really enjoyed watching our children (and ourselves) rise to the challenge of a new culture with a new language. I am currently investigating how to incorporate Chilean educational requirements, IB PYP framework requirements and 21st century social media tools in dynamic learning environments through the use of iPads in the classroom.

Describe the role played by social media in education.

As students continue to embrace and use technology and social media in their personal lives, teachers need to incorporate these methods and uses in the classroom. Education as a whole should be moving toward blurring the line as much as possible between school and home; toward building a community of learners with continuous access to resources and one another. When this happens, students will truly see what learning is… sharing, engaging and inquiring about everything around them.

Through social media the cycle of learning comes full circle: as students share, they become engaged and want to inquire more about a topic, which, in turn, inspires them to share what they have come to understand. Technology is the best tool to help facilitate this cycle whenever and wherever it happens. The cycle of inquiring through the use of technology and social media doesn’t stop at students; it’s applicable to teachers as well. Social media, in my opinion, will be one of the major professional development (PD) delivery options in the next few years for the exact reasons mentioned earlier. Social media fosters the passion and drive to want to inquire which is at the heart of all successful PD and learning programs.

Tell me about your relationship with social media. How do you feel about social media?

My relationship with social media began when I was in junior high school. Way back then (!) it was merely a telephone but, much to the discontent of my parents, I used it as frequently and as socially as any young student today uses Facebook. Even now, I enjoy using technology as a way of communicating with others. Whether it’s a text, or a tweet, or a post, I like to discuss what I am learning and exploring with others and learn from their opinions as well.

Over the years, I’ve encouraged my family to adopt and use various forms of social media- from teaching my grandfather how to create family trees online and sharing family recipes to helping my parents have a Skype conference call to talk with my children. Today, my passion for sharing and exploring ideas has found an exciting outlet in Twitter. I am inspired by being connected to the largest think-tank of passionate educators around the world and having the opportunity to explore and express ideas with this personal learning network (PLN).

These examples of social media throughout my life- the recipes, the Skype calls, the sharing of ideas on Twitter, illustrate how social media has given me the support and confidence to explore the world around me and express what I think. As an advocate for social media, I hope to help other educators realize that the students of today are entitled to develop their own personal learning environments through the use of social media as well. When educators work alongside students to achieve this goal, students develop the confidence and skills needed to be successful contributors to our global, connected society.

What do you feel are you strengths?

My biggest strength is my enthusiasm for life long learning. My parents will certainly attest to the fact that I was born asking “Why?” and this curiosity has continued through all periods of my life. Personally, I have endeavored to see new cultures and new places around the world as a way to develop my knowledge and appreciation of others.

Professionally, my passion for learning has manifested itself in the various roles I have held and trainings I have attended. Social media is where these two worlds come together and I can explore many different perspectives in the virtual world and attend anytime/anywhere workshops on my latest interest. I am the eternal cheerleader for using social media with educators and students and hope to inspire them through my excitement and modeling.

With my own personal learning network in my hands on my iPhone and iPad, I imagine that I will be busy learning and sharing for many more years to come; imagine the possibilities when we put a mobile device in the hands of each of our students!

What advice do you like to share with people?

The most important advice, and the one that I tell myself every day, is to be patient. While changes in technology move at a lightening quick speed, changes in educational technology take much longer. There are many reasons for this slow adoption rate, some good and some bad, but the most important point is that you continue to put yourself and your ideas out there and wait. The ideas do take hold, the message does get heard, and the changes do happen. I have learned to expect two steps back for every one that you take forward in educational technology. When you plan for this, expect it, and treat those who are slow to adopt with patience and respect, great things will happen for the teachers and students of the school.

Are there any questions you would like to ask?

As I mentioned earlier, I am curious. I am always asking “What? Why? How?” In that regard, I have a few questions for everyone to think about and comment on should they like.
In your opinion:

  • What is one of the biggest hurdles in helping teachers become users of social media with students? Is it administrative support, technical resources, lack of training or other?
  • How could schools use the knowledge of students who use social media to “flip the classroom” and provide training for teachers on its potential to increase student understanding?
  • Why do you think teachers are hesitant to use twitter as a form of professional development?
  • What ideas have you implemented to spread the word about Twitter as PD?

Jessica V Allen

Thank you Jessica. Your have answered each question in a thoughtful and well considered manner. Your wisdom, mindfulness and experience shine through. Your photographs are great and to see you and your family standing by the moai on Easter Island is so incredible. Your children must surely be living such rich and interesting lives. Wonderful. Thank you very much for sharing Jessica and for giving up your time during such a busy week.

Remember readers to add @jessievaz12 Jessica to your Twitter feed ladies and gentlemen. You will be guaranteed quality news, thoughts, links and resources.