Saturday, July 12, 2008

Twitter & microblogging

Last night I decided to clean up my blog a little and give it some attention that it dearly needed. I spent a few productive hours and I'm pretty happy with the results. But much of it was just 'busy stuff, being productive but not a lot of thinking or learning. So what kept me amused and what probably made a job that should have taken one hour stretch out to three was all the Twitter tweets that came through via twhirl as I was working. Many of them lead me to another site or a blog or a bookmark that interested me.
Twitter is kinda like blogging but not. Some people use it to say what they are up to at that particular moment, others use it to say what they are reading or viewing, others use it to start conversations or ask questions. It can be referred to as microblogging. Twitter is as powerful and as useful (or intrusive) as you choose to make it. Check out some ways that Laura Milligan suggests that we educators could use twitter with our colleagues or students.
25 Twitter Tips for College Students.
You might also like to check out sirexkat's Adventures in Microblogging which she created in flowgram. Very interesting summing up of lots of different ways to microblog but at this stage I think I'll stick with Twitter. :)
PS Flowgram is still in beta, but you can request to try it out.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Learning sometimes comes unexpectedly

Last night was one of those unpredictable amazing events that came from one idea and ended up in the most amazing evening. It started as it so often does these days from a Twitter tweet which alerted me to a session called The Flat classrooms workshop that was being streamed live on UStream in St Louis in the US. The session was being run by Vicki Davis, coolcatteacher and Julie Lindsay, 123learning and I and about 30 others just happened to log in as they were about to begin their first morning session. Being able to watch and listen to their introductions and their plans for the two day workshop was fantastic. At one stage they skyped in Darren Kuropatwa a renowned maths teacher in Canada who does some amazing work with his students and blogging. But what was even more powerful was the back channel chat that was going on at the same time on Chatzy. Julie and Vicki used this chat to add to and discuss issues and ideas with the real life group and they also continued to chat and share with us online. Two hours later I finally dragged myself off to bed at 1.00am having spent two great hours watching and listening and most importantly learning. Here are a couple of cool links that came out of the chat that I will certainly be returning to.
The Education vodcasting site is a site run by two science teachers who create vodcast lectures for their students. This means that effectively they turn their classes on its head by sending the students away with the lectures to listen to and when in class the students spend time with the teachers on more practical experiments and ideas.

Susan Morgan shared her school website which lists fabulous examples of teachers using Web2 in the classroom

smadlliinger shared a polling site that can be used with mobile phones to create and complete polls online

Martha Bogart shared her site on Videoconferencing
and there were so many more but I lost track.

Sometimes it takes no more than an internet connection, a few hours spare time, a comfy chair in a cosy lounge room to experience some pretty powerful professional development.

Monday, July 07, 2008

How do we keep up with the learning

I've just been reading an article, Fast Learners in the Information Age that was posted to Twitter from one of my twitter friends. The article discusses changes that are taking place in Australian workforce in terms of the way we learn and collaborate with each other. The use of online applications particularly those that could fit under the umbrella of social networking are being considered in some sectors as almost essential tools for those groups that manage and train vast numbers of personnel. Unfortunately in the education sector, I don't think we are up to that stage yet although I think we should be. The percentage of teachers who maintain a sense of professional development via the web is increasing but sadly I don't believe that it's at the tipping point yet. A lot more work has to be done in terms of recognising the power and potential of these tools not so much at the change management level but at the practitioner level, the teacher level. Until that happens, I think all we can do is continue to sing the praises, the advantages, the power of this environment to our colleagues and hopefully that will contribute in some small way to the change that has to happen. For me the power of learning and improving my own professional practice comes through the use of social networking communities and tools such as Twitter, blogs, wiki, Ning, Diigo and so many more. But it takes a certain enthusiasm, commitment, dedication and faith in its value to keep participating, working and learning in and from this environment. I have no doubt that as time goes on we will embrace the power of this more and more. It's up to us who are immersed in it to continue to sing it's praises and spread the word.
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