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It’s my Twitterversary!!

I just turned four!!

I just turned four!!

Time has flown by so quickly!   It’s hard to believe ….. but it’s now four years since I first signed up to Twitter!

Even though my initial steps into the Twitterverse were quite wobbly, I did get there – eventually as I noted in my post: Twittering to my heart’s content!  Recollecting those ‘heady’ days when I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into – I remember taking little faltering steps, being extremely nervous and not really knowing why I would want to use what seemed like an abbreviated way to communicate.

Four years on though, I still get a surge of excitement when I log onto Twitter!  It’s a bit like opening the front door to see who’s there.  Instead of just one person though, it’s a whole room full of people vying for my attention.   With so many short messages awaiting my attention, I enjoy the lack of pressure to peruse them all – a ‘bugbear’ that invades my soul each and every time I tackle the never ending stream of email in any one of my four email accounts – 3 work and one personal.  With a constant flow of ideas, thoughts and links awaiting me in my twitter stream, it’s exhilarating to be able to pick and choose what to focus upon.

Twitter has opened  a flood gate for me of new knowledge.  Being able to connect with others, to learn with and through them, has been a joy that far surpasses any of the professional learning sessions I’ve attended throughout almost all of my career.   Perhaps this is because lessons learned and shared on Twitter tend to be more relevant and ‘of-the-moment’ than so many of the professional learning programs I’ve been ‘required’ to attend.

Today I’m totally hooked on learning – the thrill of conquering the new and the fun of experimenting, discovering and lifelong learning!  Twitter has set new directions for me in both my professional and personal life allowing me

  • to meet new people
  • to locate new information
  • to learn online
  • to initiate new programs
  • to get answers to questions
  • to explore new working fields
  • to engage with world leaders
  • to feel inspired
  • to gain encouragement
  • to expand my PLN – my Personal Learning Network!

Thanks Twitter – you’ve changed my life!!

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How awesome it is to feel invigorated, rejuvenated and exhilarated!

I feel just that after attending the IWBNet Seventh National Leading a Digital School Conference which was held over the last few days in Melbourne.  Not only did I get  to attend the conference, but I also had the privilege of presenting on a topic I feel so very passionate about – the power of PLNs.

Being able to attend a conference of this calibre provides an opportunity to not only meet other educators ‘out there’ but to absorb some of the fabulous programs being driven by an amazing bunch of educators.  I feel so very lucky to have had the chance to attend and listen, absorb and be inspired by so many.

Just some of the outstanding presentations included:

Peter Crawley, Head of School, St Hilda’s School on the Gold Coast, Queensland who, after giving an inspirational and motivational talk about what and how we should be operating as leaders in our schools, went on to showcase the incredible achievements of the teachers in his school who have embraced iTunes U.

Elizabeth Howe, Director of Staffing Administration, Catholic Regional College Sydenham, Victoria, who gave a riveting analysis of Gen Z – a new generation of learners!  With lightning speed, we traversed the stand out characteristics of the current generation of kids presently in our schools while participating in a number of ‘activities’ which had each of us focused, engrossed and numb with realization.  Powerful stuff!

Lois Smethurst, Leading Teacher of ICT, Berwick Lodge Primary School, Victoria, highlighted, with an array of media presentations, the amazing achievements of students in her school.  Her presentation, titled Students making IT happen – a model for professional development, outlined a powerful way to not only empower students but a viable way to help teachers get ‘on board’ with IT.  So many powerful ideas to engage students were presented.

Having the chance to chat with so many of the other presenters as well as rub shoulders with a wide range of attendees from schools across Australia is a rare opportunity.  Enjoying the back channel chats is of course an added bonus.  A couple of sessions I attended used TodaysMeet as a back channel – such a powerful adjunct to the sessions.  A constant twitter stream gives a conference an incredible depth which is hard to believe by those who are yet to dive into the Twitterverse.  Using #k12digital, I’ve now got heaps of thoughts, ideas, links and contacts to explore!

And talking of Twitter newbies ….. Noticing I had just collected a new follower, I did what I always do ….. I checked the profile and some of the tweets that this person had made.   Blow me down ….. her first tweet was just two days ago on the first day of the conference!

Tori's first tweet (2)Realizing that this person had been really inspired by the conference, I couldn’t help re-tweeting her tweet with my added comment to which just a few minutes later I got a response:

Tori's excitementThe opportunity to present at this conference was amazing.  Having experienced first-hand the power of PLNs on my own professional learning journey of the last few years, has seen me become passionate in wanting to spread the word and encourage others to take the plunge to develop their own Professional Learning Network.  I truly believe that PLNs are a game changer in how teachers can embrace professional growth and rekindle the intrinsic spark that fires desire, imagination and drive – the very seeds we try to plant into the hearts and minds of the students we teach.

Notes and links which I provided to conference delegates attending my sessions can be found on the above Resources tab .

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It’s clear that not everybody is as hooked on Twitter as I am.   A lot has been written about its value.  Have a read, for example, of an article written about Twitter’s fifth birthday – more than a year ago now – which appeared in The Age: “Who’s laughing now?”.

Alternately, considering yourself to still be a ‘newbie’ and feeling quite reticent, you may well have convinced yourself that lurking is a better way to go.  Think again!  Just yesterday, I picked up this ‘gem’ Why YOUR Sharing Matters which was mentioned by by Alec Cuuros during a presentation about Personal Learning Networks which was held just yesterday at a conference at the State Library of Victoria.  Way to go!!  We’ve ALL got lots to share!

But in case you are still trying to determine whether Twitter has something to offer you, consider these points which you may not have yet discovered!

  1. A supplement to RSS:  Yes ….. that’s right!  Twitter can supplement your RSS feeder by supplying a constant stream of valuable sites and blogs to read.
  2. Just 140 characters:  That’s all it takes to share a link, an idea or a new thought.   It’s short, sharp and quick ….. and in this time poor world, that’s an absolute bonus!
  3. Better than an RSS Feeder:  The links to articles and blogs that you come across on Twitter are recommendations by people you value – those that you follow on Twitter.  Because those you follow are like-minded people who follow issues that are of interest to you, the links are guaranteed to be of great value.
  4. Retweeted tweets highlight the great stuff that is out there.   Reading up on links that are retweeted will ensure that limited time is spent well and that information gleaned will be current.
  5. Break down the social barriers:  Twitter is a ‘leveller’.  It allows you to ‘rub shoulders’ with people who are at the top of their field.  Interact with professors or leaders in your field of interest.  Discard usual social inhibitions.  Learn and share with experts!
  6. Discover new blogs & new people:  Expand your range of sources of new information.  Widen your perspective on issues being explored.   At the same time expand the circle of people with whom you mix with in cyberspace.
  7. Stay up-to-date: Twitter as a social media spreads the word quickly.  News and information is spread quickly and widely from one end of the globe to the other.  Twitter enables you to be up with the latest.
  8. Engage and discuss:  Twitter is a powerful way to discuss issues with those you follow.  Watch discussions between others or join the conversation yourself.   It’s a great way to link hands across the globe.
  9. Help Desk:  Don’t know how to do something or want a quick answer to a fact that eludes you?  Send out a tweet and you are bound to get an instant answer from anyone of those who follow you.
  10. Learn and be inspired:  Without a doubt, each and every time I scroll through my twitter stream I learn something new.   Powerful, exhilarating, enjoyable, mind blowing.   Twitter is a cool way to ‘get ahead’ and ‘stay ahead’!

Still not convinced?

Take a couple of minutes to listen to others describe how you can follow your interests and discover your world by using Twitter!

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As often happens when reading the post of another, I found myself considering, thinking, reflecting and inevitably weighing up the pros and cons of arguments being presented.

The post “What if school was more like Twitter?” by ASCD Edge: A professional networking community for Educators, presents an interesting discussion on the value of Twitter to educators.   As the positive attributes of Twitter are listed, the author contemplates how the ‘Twitter benefit’ could be duplicated in a school which uses traditional ‘communication’ methods such as school bulletins, email, faculty and full staff meetings.

It is not my intention to duplicate this discussion here, but consideration of just the positive attributes of Twitter listed in this article makes for powerful reading and thinking.

  1. A bulk of the information exchange available on Twitter for instance comes in the form of links, or URL’s.
  2. (Twitter provides the opportunity) to respond to ideas and have a general discussion about those responses.
  3. Reflection is very big on Twitter.  Many tweets cause people to discuss and reflect.
  4. Twitter offers a great deal of variety in opinion.  An obviously unique element to this is the fact that Twitter is a global effort.
  5. A big, big Twitter plus is the access educators have to education experts. Conversations are had between regular teachers and education luminaries on a daily basis.
  6. Twitter is a gateway to many free online webinars and online conferences.
  7. On Twitter there are constant discussions and references to pedagogy and methodology in education.

Sadly, the author of this post concludes:

“The idea of using technology as a tool for professional development has not caught on.  The idea of being a “Connected Educator” is too foreign to too many educators. “

For those of us already hooked on Twitter, there is no need to be convinced of the power of Twitter as a tool to share, to learn, to reflect and connect with educators worldwide.   Just recently, when presenting to a group of uninitiated teachers, I saw the surprise on their faces when I told them that I use Twitter only for professional purposes.   Even more surprise seemed to drift around the room when I told them that my day is not complete unless I check my Twitter account.

Why is it that efforts to convince fellow teachers to give Twitter a go is often met with either disinterest or disdain?   Why is it that our colleagues say they have insufficient time to reach out and explore?  Why is that trying to garner interest in this powerful tool is such an uphill battle?

Good questions perhaps.  Unfortunately, I don’t have good answers.

All I do know is that each and every day, through Twitter, my interest is piqued and my knowledge is extended by the many interesting and powerful tweets I read.  My wish is that all educators join this global community and that together we hold hands to advance our profession.

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WOW!  How amazing is this!!

Just yesterday, I happened to glance at the site stats for this blog.   As fascinating as it is to read the various tables and listing on my WordPress Dashboard, I admit that I only very rarely spend time looking at these details.  But yesterday, lo and behold, I found a table listing ‘Referrers’ which gives an insight into sites through which others have located posts on your blog.

To my amazement, I discovered that a NovaNews blog post I’d published late last year had made it onto the ‘Top 50 Education Tweets of 2011’    Commenting on the difficulty of sifting through the near trillion tweets posted over the year, the authors of Distance Education.org reported spending countless hours scouring through a long list of tweets that have made them laugh, think and feel inspired.   The top 50 list they have published encompasses, they say, the whole of education on Twitter in 2011.

While I am overcome to find reference to my blog post on this list (it comes in at number 46 if you are looking) I take pride in noting that the content of my post was about the valuable role that Teacher Librarians can, if given the chance, perform in schools.   My post: 10 Learning Paradigms that can be implemented by Teacher Librarians was written from the heart and is addressed not to those of us in the profession, but to those who administer schools and would do well to take note of the very valuable skill set that Teacher Librarians have to offer their school community.

That this post in particular was found to be worthy of mention on a list of the top 50 tweets of 2011 is indeed affirmation to all Teacher Librarians.   I feel proud to have contributed a little to advancing our place in the ranks of our schools.

And ….. as I’ve said so many times before on this blog ….. the power of Twitter is immense.   This micro blogging social networking platform, as it is often described, has an incredible ability to share and disseminate the words, thought and ideas of us all across the world in an instant.   To know I’ve contributed to collective global thinking is indeed a powerful honour.

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One of the first things I do when trying to decide if I want to follow someone on Twitter is to look at their recent tweets to see if the topics tweeted about are of interest to me.   When using TweetDeck, the tool I’m currently using to manage my Twitter account, I’m often conscious of the fact that I only see a few recent tweets.

But using Twitter Topic Explorer is a great way of seeing the bigger picture. By showing the main topics in a cloud format, with data in colourful bubbles that match up to the stream of tweets on the right of the screen, this is an easy and fast tool to use.   Just simply type in the Twitter username of either a person or an organization into the bottom left hand search box and within seconds a topic cloud such as this visulization of  The Age newspaper Twitter stream appears.



Clicking on any one of the bubbles displaying the main tweet topics highlights the term on the corresponding Twitter stream on the right of the screen.  The size of the circles is based on the frequency of the word in the Twitter stream.  Words found together in similar tweets are clustered together and are given a similar colour code.  Not only can you see what the person or organization has been tweeting about, but by being able to easily spot topics that are of interest, you can find others to follow.

Thumbs up to Jeff Clark, the developer of this neat tool.

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