Twitter For Teachers #Learning2

Keri-Lee and Clint met on Twitter in 2008 and have since spent numerous holidays, along with their families, together across Asia. Cross posted at Learning on the Job.

To help facilitate our Twitter for Teachers session at Learning 2.011, we have decided to post the general outline of our presentation and any resources on both of our blogs. We’d love to hear your feedback and how you are using Twitter to interact with your PLN. Feel free to leave your Twitter name in the comments as well!

(Mis)Perceptions of Twitter

We’ve all heard the “I don’t care what you had for breakfast!” diatribe against Twitter. We’re curious to know what the perceptions our participants have about Twitter.

How We Use It

Twitter, like anything else, is simply a tool. Use of that same tool will vary widely from person to person and Twitter is no exception.

Top Tips

For those just starting out in the Twitter game or for those that started an account years ago but never really got into it, here our some of our top tips for using Twitter to expand your PLN:

Public, Personal, Private – Just as we would tell our students, it is important to understand the distinction between public, personal and private information.

BPLBio, Photo, Link. It’s hard for others to separate the gold from the spam when you don’t fill these things out!

Tear Down That Wall! – Don’t protect your tweets! Again, it’s hard for others to decide to follow you back if they can’t see what you’ve added to the conversations.

Go Beyond Basic – While Twitter as a service is fantastic, Twitter as a website is less than desirable. Try a Twitter client like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, or Echofon (just to name a few!) that allows you to separate your Twitter feed into easy-to-monitor columns.

Lists Twitter lists allow you to create groups within your Twitter stream. You can even include people that you do not personally follow. Even better, you can follow lists that others have meticulously created. (Kim Cofino has a great International Teachers list.

Hashtags#learning2 #edchat #scichat #mathchat #kinderchat These are all examples of hashtags. Hashtags make it easy to group and search for tweets about a specific topic. Using a Twitter client like Tweetdeck, you can even use a hashtag to create an easy-to-follow column in your client. @cybraryman has a comprehensive list of education-related hashtags.

Search For It – Is there something that you’re passionate about? Chances are there are others on Twitter who are passionate about the same thing. Use the Twitter Search function to find people who are talking about your hometown, your favorite sports team or anything else you might be interested in.

Lurking (aka Legitimate Peripheral Participation) – One of the best and easiest ways to learn Twitter etiquette is to lurk amongst some of your favorite lists or hashtags. Once you see how things work, it’s a lot easier to join in!

Retweet and Reply – For some, the highest compliment you can pay them on Twitter is to retweet them. For others, they prefer the conversation that comes along with an @reply. Either way, it is a great way to engage others and to add followers to your PLN.

Conversation is King – Twitter, first and foremost, is about connecting with people around the world who can help you grow as a teacher and as a person. This happens through conversation and through getting to know one another as you would a fellow teacher on your campus. Sometimes these professional relationships develop into personal friendships that last a lifetime!

While it is extremely well-used and on the verge of becoming cliche, the best metaphor for your Personal Learning Network is that of a garden. It takes time and energy and patience to cultivate a PLN. But if you stick with it, it can be a very beautiful thing!

Image Credits:
Squawk! by Kevin Collins licensed under†CC BY NC
Looking Up†by Louise Docker licensed under CC BY

5 Golden rules for Effective Conference Tweeting

5. Share links to content/ideas presented in each session – that’s what Twitter’s all about!Golden Rule

4. Leave out the conference hashtag if you’re talking to your friends.

3. Acknowledge the quotes you tweet – we want ideas to be traced back to their source.

2. Be thoughtful about retweeting with the conference hashtag – otherwise those following the conference hashtag stream will see the same tweet many times.

And the number 1 golden rule for Effective Tweeting at Conferences:

If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t tweet it!

It’s simple really.

Happy tweeting!

Image credit: whoswho

Alert! A blog tip from Edublogs

Today I have had a neat surprise and was reminded of a very important blogging tip, which of course I need to share!

Earlier this afternoon, I was busily scrolling through my tweetdeck when I came across a tweet from Kim Cofino saying:

I found the link to the list of nominees, and proceeded to check them out. I love lists like this, as I always find some fabulous new people/blogs to follow.

Imagine my surprise to find that some very kind people had nominated Tip of the Iceberg for an award! I nearly fell off my chair!

I sent off a tweet to say:

@Edublogs (a.k.a Sue Waters) tweeted back right away, and let me in on who nominated me. I can’t thank Sylvia & Darcie enough for the gesture! You guys totally made my day!

Sue also made a super suggestion that I should set up an alert for Tip of the Iceberg, so that if anyone blogs about it, I get notified via Google Reader. I took Sue’s advice, and set up some alerts, so I won’t miss out on exciting stuff like this again!

Here’s the link Sue kindly passed on, which will give you all you need to know to set up alerts for your own blog.

Happy Blogging!

My Secret Identity

I have a secret identity. One very few of my real-time friends know about. It is my life online.

Online I’m a blogger. I have several blogs, documenting my work with students and my learning in technology education. I read other people’s blogs, comment on them and learn from them on a daily basis.

Online I’m a tweeter. Through Twitter, I have met a huge number of creative, talented, intelligent and inspiring people. I enjoy sharing information, ideas and random thoughts with many of them. I have certainly made new friends through Twitter.

Online I have followers. Although this fact never ceases to amaze me, there are people out there who read my blog and have me in their Google Reader! I can’t imagine a greater compliment than that!

Online people know me for my work. They know what I’m doing in my classroom, which tools I think are great, the highlights and challenges of teaching IT.

Online I help people find answers. I like being able to support newcomers to the online world I live in. I like being able to make a difference to people and help find solutions to their problems.

I have a very supportive group of family and friends, yet they seldom (if ever) read my blog posts. It appears am not alone in this: I put out the following tweet: Do your friends/family read your blog? Here are some responses:

That said, it’s important to get a balanced perspective on the issue. @nadinedickinson pointed out that her blog isn’t relevant to her friends/family, but it is for her coworkers.

If I take my particular situation, I am living overseas, and the vast majority of my friends are also teachers. Both of my parents are teachers. My sister is married to a teacher. I’m surrounded! My blog is particularly relevant to them as a group.

The intention of this post was not to moan about the number of friends/family members reading my blog, but rather highlight the fact that my friends/family have little idea about the extent of my online existence.

It makes me wonder what I don’t know about their lives.

10 Reasons to try Backchannel Chat

I tried backchannel chat for the first time during keynote addresses at the EARCOS Teachers Conference: ETC09.

What is Backchannel Chat? It’s like note-taking at a lecture, but notes are shared with anyone who has the URL. They might be people in the room with you, but they could also be anywhere in the world. At ETC09, this meant that while the keynote speaker was presenting, a group of us were on our laptops, sharing notes about the presentation, though there were some people in different countries tuning in (see links to transcripts of our backchannel chat at the end of this post). We used TinyChat, which was really easy and straightforward to set up, though others have also recommended Chatzy.

Initially, I found it hard to keep up with the fast pace.  I struggled to answer a question from a friend beside me AND watch the speaker AND type AND listen. Was I focused? I was certainly concentrating. I hadn’t concentrated this hard on a keynote speech before, that’s for sure!

After a few minutes, I got the hang of it and managed to keep up enough to contribute to the discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and now I’m completely sold.

10 reasons you should try backchannel chat:

  1. Keeping up – The great thing about the chat was that if I got behind on what the speaker was saying, I could scroll back over the comments of the other participants and catch up that way.
  2. Remaining on-track – I found @amichetti and @jutecht typed really quickly and managed to keep the discussion focused on the keynote, not just random thoughts. This was helpful for me as a person new to backchannel chatting, who didn’t yet know the etiquette.
  3. Transferring knowledge – I had a better understanding of the keynote as a whole, because I was typing it – transferring it into another form. It was easier for me to remember later, rather than just aurally listening.
  4. Staying Focused – I was more focused on what was being said because I felt I had to attend to contribute to the discussion. I wanted to pull my weight and not ride on others’ coat-tails.
  5. Engagement – The chat had me not only focused, but totally engaged. The number of multiple intelligences addressed at one time was definitely higher than had I only been listening. As @amichetti suggested to me via Twitter, backchannel chats can be particularly engaging when the presentation is more content-focused rather than skill-driven.
  6. Perspectives – I had the benefit of other people’s perspectives. This was fascinating. We all ‘heard’ things differently. When we transferred what we heard into our own words, different perspectives were offered.  Certain parts resonated more than others for each of us, due to our varied prior knowledge and experiences.
  7. Clarification – if there was a word/phrase introduced that we were unclear of, one of us would look it up on wikipedia, so we were getting near-instant clarification of new vocabulary. I couldn’t have done that myself. @nadinedickinson told me (via Twitter) that she like the instant feedback that was possible during a backchannel chat.
  8. Review – I benefited because I had material to review and look over later. Not only did I have my notes, but I had the notes of everyone else in the chat.
  9. Divide and Conquer – people in our chat took on different roles. @Skardalien helped out by looking up words we were unsure of or videos that related to the topic. @amichetti was a speedy typist and great note-taker. What we learned together I felt was greater than we could have accomplished individually.
  10. Fun – I really enjoyed the chance to connect with people during the keynote, rather than being a passive observer. I consider myself an interpersonal learner, and the backchannel chat allowed me to participate in the way I learn best – with others.

During one keynote, I received this tweet from @rhondacarrier: @klandmiles thanks for keeping us up-to-date with what is happening. Very useful for those of us that aren’t there #ETC09

Until that tweet came through, I wasn’t truly aware of the realm of influence of our chat. It stretched around the world! Our chat was helping other people learn across countries, as if they were there themselves. That certainly upped my levels of responsibility! I sat a bit straighter after that!
[Please check out Rhonda’s blogpost on the uses of backchanneling for more information]

So how does this relate to my class? Earlier this academic year, I tested out the chat function in Studywiz with my Grade 4 students to discuss an essential agreement for blogging. I found that some of the kids who would normally not say anything, were the ones who had the most to say in a chat forum. That is HUGE! I need to consider different ways to conduct discussions and ensure I provide a range of options to cater to every child’s needs.

Tips: I would recommend using small groups so the kids can keep up with each other – 22 kids all typing at once makes a challenging chat to follow! I’d do 4 separate chats next time, so everyone can follow easily and participate effectively.

How does it relate to me as a workshop leader? I cringe now at how I made people turn their phones off during a PYP workshop I led in Jakarta recently. Next time I’d like to set up a backchannel chat as some people feel more comfortable asking questions and/or participating that way. It would give me a chance to check their understanding (and levels of focus!) later on, and perhaps clarify further any points where necessary.

I’m definitely going to look for ways to incorporate backchannel chat into my regular teaching repertoire. How about you?

Links to Backchannel Chats of Keynote speeches at ETC09 can be found on the following pages:
William Lishman – If We Are Not Part of the Solution We Are Part of the Problem
John Liu – “Earth’s Hope” – Responding To Climate Change – By Healing the Planet

Further reading: Ben Grundy’s post on Back-Channel Chat in Class

Photo Credit: FadderUri

What’s in a (user)name?

Quite a lot, I’m beginning to think…

When I signed up with Twitter a year or so ago, I went with the username I have for my shared email account with my husband: klandmiles. It combined our names: mine (Keri-Lee) was shortened to KL and his name is Miles. K-L & Miles = klandmiles. It was easy to remember, we’ve been using that as our email address since 2001 when we moved overseas. I am usually the first to adopt a new tool etc, so I have kept the same username for each new tool I use (delicious, diigo etc).

I didn’t for a moment stop to think about what my username would say about me to others. I met @hitechhall and he said, “Oh, so you’re K – Landmiles!” and he wasn’t the only one! @Skardalien did the same thing, but I said, “No, it’s KL and Miles. This caused him to then ponder, “So how do you pronounce your surname? Is it Andmiles?”

This begs the question; can I really have a 2-person username in this day and age?

Some people I’ve talked to said they feel they’ve outgrown their username or don’t like it anymore. But do we have a choice?

It appears we do! While forcing helping to sign my husband up to Twitter, I found this message on the settings page:

“Change your Twitter user name anytime without affecting your existing updates, @replies, direct messages, or other data. After changing it, make sure to let your followers know so you’ll continue receiving all of your messages with your new user name.”

Do you take notice of people’s usernames? What do our usernames say about us? Do they even matter?

My final question is this: should I change my username or not? Ideas and suggestions welcome 🙂
Should I change my username?
( polls)

He Tangata (People)

The Maori (native New Zealanders) have a saying:

He aha te mea nui?
He tangata,
He tangata,
He tangata.

What is the most important thing?
It is people,
it is people,
it is people.

At the end of this 3 day conference at EARCOS in Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, I believe more than ever that this is true.

Sure, I had some great workshops with very knowledgeable and interesting people, but what I will take away most is the face-to-face connections and conversations I had with people.

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In one of Jeff Utecht’s recent posts, he asked the question, “How do you connect: People first or Content first?” While the easy (and probably true) answer for me is a bit of both, I am really looking for a conversation, not merely a lecture. I choose people over content. We humans are social creatures, and strive to create social experiences. Content becomes more meaningful for me if I can interact and engage with it, AND when I feel I know the person providing the content.

Through the course of this conference, I can see some truly believe technology is anti-social. I think it facilitates different types of social interaction. We need balance; face-to-face, physical relationships are still crucially important (this conference proves that for me), but social interactions with people online are no less valid.

Technology is neutral. It’s not good or bad.

During the conference I put a face to the names of several people I tweet with: @mscofino, @jutecht, @amichetti and @Skardalien. I also met @nzchrissy, @hitechhall @msbecs, @jefflewis9, @sherrattsam, @cmrolfe & @ezevallos. I know that from now on, their tweets will be more meaningful to me because I know their faces. I’ve had a beer with most of them! We have a shared, common experience. I want to know what they have to say.

Thanks for the learning, friends! I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Photo credit: lawgeek