Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

I feel both frustrated and saddened.

Frustrated because I don’t know how to change the situation I’m faced with and saddened because I know that unless change happens, others are not only missing out but those they teach are missing out too.

What happened?

Yet another professional colleague gave me that irksome, fixated, glazed stare as I rattled on about the joy of learning and all that I have learned by talking, reading, writing, listening and sharing along with the immense pleasure I constantly gain by acquiring new knowledge and knowing that I am part of an amazing never ending chain of knowledge.

Why doesn’t everyone get it?!   Why doesn’t everyone understand that all educators – young and old, experienced and less experienced – need to continuously learn?!

If you’re reading this blog, you’re already hooked.  You already know how important it is to constantly reach out for new thoughts, ideas, pedagogy and technology.  It’s something you do on a regular basis.  It’s something that feeds your joy of being.  It’s something that helps you grow and perform as a better teacher.

Unfortunately though, not everyone feels the need for ongoing professional learning.

How can we change this mentality?   How can we excite our colleagues who haven’t yet discovered not just the need to continuously learn, but the inherent joy derived from learning?

What processes are we putting in place to bring others on board, to make them recognize how important it is to stay fresh and to maintain their relevancy in the eyes of their students and their work colleagues?

A shift toward centralized teacher registration in Australia is attempting to formalize this.  VIT registration renewal now requires each of us to complete 20 hours of professional learning each year.   But, it can be argued, forcing people to learn doesn’t necessarily translate to learning and growth actually occurring.

It’s the learning culture we need to change!  

Just as we aim to instill a love of learning in our students, so too we need to instill a love of learning in educators.   Just as we grow weary of the many students in our classes who complete the bare minimum to prove competency has been gained, I grow weary when I see professional colleagues just step through the ropes to earn that ‘Certificate of Completion’.

Just recently I was telling my son about an awesome online program I had recently ‘attended’.  In between sharing details of the course, I mentioned that while I enjoyed the weekly readings and took the opportunity to play a little with some of the tools to which we were being exposed,  the weekly assignments were not to my liking, so I didn’t complete them.   In saying this out loud, I realized that this is the first time I haven’t actually completed all those ‘required tasks’ which I knew would disqualify me from receiving my ‘Certificate of Completion’.  And, furthermore, I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt!  The many hours I had spent poring over readings of websites and the comments and thoughts exchanged by all of us participating in the program was sufficient for me.  As this realization popped into my mind, I realized that gaining the certificate was not the reason I had even enrolled in the course!   And then, I was blown away when my son’s response came swift and clear:

We learn what we want to learn, not what we have to learn.”

Funnily enough, just last week,  a senior member of our teaching staff popped into our workroom confessing that he had never been interested in learning details shared in one of the mandatory sessions conducted by our eLearning teachers, never, that is, until now – because now he needs to know how to apply that learning!   A brief exchange between us deduced an eerily similar comment to that of my son:

Successful learning most often occurs on a need to know basis.   

So, could it be that herein lies an unexplored path to ignite a love of learning among the teachers in our schools?  Could we perhaps create instances in which needs are manufactured, needs which would compel teachers to step into that glorious world of learning so that they could reap the rewards and experience first hand the joy of learning?

As I said earlier, my learning is constantly propelled by

  • talking: predominantly on Twitter and face-to-face with work colleagues
  • reading: thoughts, comments and links found on social media and the blog posts of others
  • writing:  reflecting as I write posts for my two blogs
  • listening: when attending conferences, workshops or meet-ups with other professionals
  • sharing: by presenting at conferences which encompasses much thinking and planning

So, is it possible to bottle some of the experiences and dividends I’ve described as being inherent in my style of learning to create situations from which our work colleagues could gain much.

So …..

  • what if teachers had to create a Twitter account so they could regularly receive shared information from the Principal?
  • what if teachers were then required to follow 10 thought leaders and share those they follow with their followers?
  • what if teachers had to tweet their response to at least 10 links found and read on Twitter?
  • what if teachers had to RT good tweets read?
  • what if teachers had to send an agreed minimum number of tweets a week?
  • what if teachers had to read at least six recommended blogs a week?
  • what if teachers had to view at least six videos (TED, Youtube) a week?
  • what if teachers had to create a blog on which they share reflections of their own learning journey?
  • what if teachers had to write at least one blog post a week?
  • what if teachers had to leave comments on the blogs of at least three other colleagues a week?
  • what if teachers were required to attend a school based TeachMeet where they had to present for 7 minutes?
  • what if teachers were required to attend one online learning program a year?
  • what if the above cycle was a professional learning requirement for a set number of weeks each year?
  • what if each teacher’s participation in this program was monitored by an experienced mentor?
  • what if learning time – at least three hours a week – was scheduled into each teacher’s weekly timetable?
  • what if schools underwent some rethinking and redesigning to overcome the kinds of situations illustrated here which saps the time and energy of the time poor teachers in our schools?!
The Point: Independent Education Union Vol. 4 No 6 November 2014

The Point: Independent Education Union Vol. 4 No 6 November 2014

Is it possible that by implementing these practices into our staff professional learning programs that we could, at last, instill a love of learning into the hearts and minds of all our teachers?


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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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Every now and then I feel like I’m floundering out there in cyberspace!  And like me, you probably have moments when you too feel that Social Networking has all but taken over your life!

So when I saw this latest video, which is bound to go viral, I had a good giggle.

To a novice onlooker like me, it seems that Facebook and Google+ are continually raising the stakes on each other.  It’s a bit like that old song

‘Anything you can do ….. I can do better!”

I’m left in the middle, kind of wondering why I need to use both of them, but then worrying if I don’t remain active on each of them, I may miss out on ‘something’ really important, interesting or essential.  And in between it all, I’m still trying to figure out how I want to use them.

Then there’s Twitter.  Fortunately though, I don’t have any lingering qualms about its value.  For me, Twitter stands apart from other Social Networking platforms.   It’s great, it’s invaluable and it’s a form of Social Networking which speaks to me in a totally different way to either Facebook or Google+.

And then there’s Blogging ….. and Nings ….. and Linked In ….. and GoodReads ….. and Diigo ….. and VodPod ….. and Flikr ….. and …. and ….. goodness …. the list goes on and on.  It’s not until I stop and think about it that I realize how many different Social Networking tools I’m using – all of them eating into precious time in a day.

But just in the last few days, I’ve hit upon more than one video which talks about us getting back to the real world and not letting Social Networking take over our lives.   I guess it’s important to remember that there are ‘real’ relationships out there which need nurturing if they are to be maintained.   As new Social Networking platforms come thick and fast, we need to take stock and remember that wise adage our parents used to say:

Everything in moderation”

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I know I’ve said it before, but Twitter is great!  I usually stop in and have a peek at Twitter on a daily basis.  While I don’t always tweet myself, I most certainly have a little look around to see what others are tweeting about.   Everyday ….. and I mean ….. EVERYDAY ….. I learn something new when I check my Twitter feed.

Today I happened upon a tweet which was RT’d (re-tweeted) several times by others.   When I traced back, I could see that the original tweet was in fact posted by @BrainPOP_UK.

I first ‘played’ with BrainPop when completing the VicPLN last year.   I found it to be a really cool tool that had much to offer educators.  When I discovered that it covered an enormous range of subjects including Science, Social Studies, English, Maths, Engineering & Technology, Health, Arts and Music I remember getting really excited.   Soon after, when I had a teacher asking me for some resources on reproduction, I remember jumping into Brain Pop and locating and sharing with her a really cool ‘lesson’.   I soon discovered though that a school license was way beyond our budget, so I kind of went cold on promoting this as enthusiastically.

But a check on Twitter tonight revealed that there’s a new iPhone and iPad App which has recently been released – and it’s FREE!  Within a minute I had it installed on my iPhone and was back to playing.  Different in format to it’s online version, the iPhone App lets you view a short video and then take a quiz to check your knowledge.   With a new video daily and an option that lets you look at past videos it really is a great way to learn. No wonder BrainPOP_UK were proudly sharing the fact that there was a really great review posted on iApps for the Educator just a couple of days ago.  It’s worth the read.

I also noticed on Twitter tonight that Judith Way was proudly announcing that some of her colleagues had just joined the Twitterverse.  A great achievement!  While these people may not realize it tonight, their lives are about to change markedly as they explore this new and wonderful world of knowledge sharing.

Just a few days ago, I came across this a makeuseof post which had one of the best explanations I’ve seen so far about Twitter.   Titled INFOGRAPHIC : How To Twitter Effectively I am reproducing it here in the hope that those who read this infograph will learn easily and quickly what Twitter is about.

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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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It looks fairly simple: a plea by someone and then a reply by another:

Thu 03 Feb 13:53 – Help librarians. I need to put together a 50 minute session for Year 12 IB students on Internet, research and study skills. #vicpln #edtech

Thu 03 Feb 14:20 – @megsamanda Start local, go global. So school resources, area resources (public libs),globalrescs (wiki, goog, worldcat) GL! #vicpln #edtech

Thu 03 Feb 15:45 – @MentoneMif thanks for your help…anything else you would recommend? #vicpln #edtech

Thu 03 Feb 16:42 – @megsamanda Goog wonderwheel for narrowing searches? #vicpln #edtech

If you still need to be convinced about the value (read power) of Twitter, then consider what happened to me this afternoon.

I logged onto Twitter to just have a look around.  I saw the reply from @MentoneMif on one of the hashtags – #vicpln –  I regularly follow.  Intrigued by the content of the tweet, I scrolled through my nicely organized TweetDeck lists and saw the plea for help from @megsamanda just 30 minutes earlier.  Satisfied that I couldn’t add much more to the succinct reply by @MentoneMif I continued scanning through #edtech.   Many tweets later I spotted the thanks from @megsamanda with the tag question of anything else recommended.  Just an hour later @MentoneMif suggests wonderwheel.

This is the point at which I very unexpectedly achieve a short powerful lesson about yet another amazing ‘tool’ that is out there in cyberspace just waiting to be utilized!  Wonder wheel is amazing!  A fantastic tool for helping to suss out resources for research or just general learning.

I found it a little convoluted to locate though.  Not sure why.   These directions should help.

Go to the Google page > Enter ‘google’ into the search bar > Select ‘More search tools’ from the left menu panel > Select ‘WonderWheel’

While enjoying the wheel of wonder be sure to look at the websites listed on the right hand side. They contain much info.  I ran three searches: cyclone > cyclone definition > cyclone verses hurricane

Cyclone 1

Cyclone Definition 2

Cyclone vs Hurrican 3

Little did these two people know that they were ‘educating’ a third along the way.   Cause I enjoyed my discovery so much I of course re-tweeted @MentoneMif’s tweet adding my own take – Fabulous resource! To ensure a larger audience, I added additional hashtags:

RT @MentoneMif @megsamanda Goog wonderwheel for narrowing searches? #vicpln #edtech #elearning #edchat – Fabulous resource!

Who knows how many more people may now discover this resource.  Go Twitter!!

**Thanks @MentoneMif and @megsamanda for permission to publish your tweets.

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