PD, Technology

Marco? Polo!

A year ago, I was introduced to an app called Marco Polo – and I quickly fell in love with it. Marco Polo is “a video communication app that helps you feel close, even when life gets busy.” Need an analogy? Imagine that Voxer and Google Hangouts had a baby. Well, that baby would be Marco Polo.

As my schedule has gotten busier, Marco Polo has become an amazing way for me to stay connected with friends, my PLN and grow professionally. I can leave video messages for friends and respond to them when I have the time. There is no pressure to respond immediately because the messages are saved to your phone until you are ready for them. For me, I tend to load up Marco Polo when I am driving and listen/respond during that time. As an educator, it has been an amazing way for me to bounce ideas off my PLN and receive feedback on a variety of different topics.

Interested in learning how it works? Check out this short video:

Perhaps you are wondering how you can use Marco Polo in the “professional” setting. Well, dont’ worry! Here are 5 ideas to get you started:

Idea #1: Department Collaboration

Create a Marco Polo group thread with your coworkers and/or department at your school site.

Each person could share what they are doing in their classroom – even visually! Have a great lesson you want to share? Load up Marco Polo and show your colleagues how your students are doing! In addition to this, it’s a great way to keep conversations going during the week if you don’t have the time to meet your with your colleagues. Share your stories, ideas and Edu-wins as you go through your week. As questions and provide support to others. Stay connected – even with people that may be only 100 feet away.

Idea #2: District Collaboration

Create a Marco Polo group thread with other colleagues in your district.

If you work in a large district, it is very easy to become disconnected with what is going on at other sites. Everyone lives in their own busy world and barely has time to collaborate with the people at their own site. However, there are amazing things going on at other sites within your district – you just haven’t heard about them.

Imagine creating a “Math Collab” district-wide Marco Polo chat among multiple middle schools. Let’s say 8 teachers join it from three separate sites. That’s 24 teachers that can informally collaborate and share ideas on a daily/weekly basis. Imagine how much professional development could occur!

Idea #3: Global PLN Collaboration

Create a Marco Polo group thread with your PLN across the world.

I’ve been blessed to have a strong PLN across the world. It’s many of these individuals that have kept me motivated and encouraged on some of my most difficult days in education. Marco Polo has been a great way for me to stay connected with them. As an example, I recently saw a friend at ISTE and commented that it has been over 2 years since we had seen each other IRL (in real life). Both of us were kind of surprised because it felt like we saw each other on a regular basis. Well, guess what? We did – through Marco Polo.

Idea #4: Book Club

Create a Marco Polo book club group thread.

Need some motivation to read educational books and grow professionally? Pick a book, find some friends and create a group Marco Polo chat! Read a chapter a week and share your thoughts on a regular basis.

Idea #5: Tech Tips

Create a Marco Polo “tech tip” group to share latest trends and tech tools in education.

This is a simple one – create a group that is focused on using technology in schools. Find something cool to use in your classroom? Share it!

How do you stay connected and grow as an educator? Share in the comments below!

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