Tag Archives: PLN

Twitter experience becoming richer

From where I sit, Twitter use seems to be changing and evolving. When I first started using Twitter, it seemed that most Tweets could easily be placed into a few predictable categories:

  • general comments: updates regarding your current activity
  • web announcements: updated my blog at … or bookmarking site …. or read about something at …..
  • resource announcements: great smartboard resource at …..
  • asking a question

Some examples of these type of posts are:

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My observation is that people are now ‘more connected’ through Twitter. By that I mean that I see evidence of more ongoing dialogue within groups of users. Requests for information are responded to. People are connecting for specific purposes.

For example:

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To my way of thinking, this shows development in how Twitter is used. I feel there is a much greater sense of community – at least in the people in interact with. Users also have a better sense of harnessing the power of search terms and hash tags. Twitter is such a powerful tool to develop one’s PLP network. I feel fortunate to have a great PLP team to learn from and I look forward to the online dialogue that is an important part of every day!

~ Mark

‘Habitudes’ in the Workplace

Synchronicity is an amazing thing.

This past summer, I became aware of the work Angela Maiers was doing through Twitter. I visited Angela’s  website and found a write up on her book – Classroom Habitudes. After reading the summery of the contents, I ordered an e-copy to read. Classroom Habitudes looks at learning by exploring the Habitudes — behaviours, habits and attitudes — that will ensure student success inside and outside classroom walls.  The Habitudes are:

  • Imagination
  • Curiosity
  • Self-Awareness
  • Perseverance
  • Courage
  • Adaptibility

I was extremely impressed by the book and ordered a number of copies to share with various staff members with the intent of stimulating some thinking about work we are doing with technology integration, new library resources and iPod in the classroom projects.

Recently, I read the book again and was thinking that these Habitudes also qualities that I want in my staff. At a recent leadership program I completed, one of the areas studied looked at the importance of knowing your staff well, relating to them on a personal level and knowing how to ‘stretch’ them a little in pursuit of learning and career goals. Stretching, or challenging them to think out of box as they investigate solutions to problems or look at process improvement in new ways, is a key ingredient in the growth process.

This week, I made a few notes about writing a blog post about the notion of these Habitudes in the workplace, a natural extension of student success outside the classroom walls and put things in the perspective of life long learning. Today, I sat down to do some blog reading and write this post. As a faithful reader of Doug Peterson’s blog Off the Record,  I started reading Doug’s blog first. I was amazed to see a link to a post titled Habitudes of Professional Learning Communities.  Talk about SYNCHRONICITY!

In today’s world and workplaces, rapid change and the need to adapt are givens. We are life long learners and 21st century learning applies to adults too. In my view, the Habitudes are just as important in the workplace as they are in the classroom. As leaders, it is important to find ways to continue to nurture these characteristics in our staff. It is great to see how many people are thinking about, setting and leading opportunities for  personal learning and growth plans and professional learning networks.

~ Mark

Twitter: showing the global perspective

Explaining Twitter to the non Twitter is somewhat of a challenge. The concept is different than other tools, and the language associated with Twitter is also very unique, not to mention all of the associated short forms etc.

As an educator and Twitter enthusiast, I am always thinking about good analogies and strategies to explain Twitter and its benefits. A demo is good too. A typical discussion or demo includes: get your free account, public/private, friends/followers, checking profiles of other Twitter users, posting tweets (messages), replying, retweeting etc..

Further into the process there is discussion about how to use Twitter effectively which leads to searches, hash tags and the PLN aspect of Twitter. Then you can step it up a notch and manage Twitter feeds through a 3rd party application such as HootSuite or Seesmic Desktop. (see my earlier post PLN:Harnessing the power of Twitter). Oh yes, and be sure to include information about using Twitter with your mobile device.

The power of Twitter is often demonstrated by posting a Tweet and showing people how quickly you will get responses from your followers which works really effectively if you have a large number of followers – all good. I have been thinking about how to best illustrate the global aspect of Twitter. I have finally landed on two ideas for this.

You could show the Twitter public timeline which is the collection of all public tweets.

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While this shows a range of Twitter users and posts, it looks very similar to your own Twitter feed so in this regard it is a weak illustration and does not truly capture the global aspect of Twitter.

Another approach is to show TwitSpy, which shows the Twitter public timeline in a way that displays the location and profile picture of the user on a Google map along with the tweet. In my mind, this is a much more powerful demonstration to illustrate the global aspect of the Twitter community.

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In these last two examples, you see the languages, profile pictures and global locations – much more effective!  It is fascinating to watch the TwitSpy display as the counties pop up on the screen: Canada, India, USA, England, China … – a true global community.

Note: If you are going to do a demonstration of the Twitter public timeline or TwitSpy, remember that the timeline shows all public tweets. You can not control the tweets, users, languages or more importantly, the content – in this area, you take your chances.

Related Links

Not a Twitter user? Get your account today at Twitter.com

Twitter public timeline

TwitSpy

See you online.

~ Mark

PLN: Harnessing the power of Twitter

Last week, during a break in our meeting schedule, I had a great opportunity to discuss the use of social media in the educational setting with friend, educator and fellow blogger Doug Peterson. On this particular occasion we were discussing our approaches to using Twitter and Facebook to make connections and keep our learning current. Doug captured our discussion eloquently in his recent On Going PD blog post, so I won’t repeat the entire discussion here.

Part of our discussion was centred around capturing and managing the rich source of information, ideas and resources within Twitter. I wanted to pick up on one point as a followup to Doug’s post as I have been using Seemic Desktop extensively over the last couple of weeks since that conversation occurred.

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Seesmic desktop provides a powerful framework to organize and follow communications. The default setup gives 3 columns showing your main ‘Twitter feed’ – the list of communications from the people you follow along with your posts (like the Twitter ‘home’ screen on Twitter.com, replies, and private 1:1 communications.

With a little experimentation, I was able to streamline and view Twitter information in different ways, focusing on people or concepts.

Lists: People can be viewed as individuals or grouped by lists according to characteristics. For example, if you were following educators, you might have lists for your province or state, country and International etc. Each of these lists can be displayed in their own column within the Seesmic framework.

Concepts: Additional columns can be added to reflect the results of particular searches by filtering against the Twitter public timeline. Searches can be done with key words that you choose, or by the hashtag labels (e.g. #mlearning) which Twitter users include in messages for this tracking purpose. I have been comparing results for similar searches. For example, searches for mobile learning and #mlearning yield different results. It is rather interesting to view these columns side by side.

This approach allows you to become more of a consumer of information. Certainly, there will be ‘noise’ or distractions within the information flow. The Seesmic framework allows me to easily review posts at a glance by person, group or concept and zero in on items that catch my interest for further reading, bookmarking, commenting, responding or resource exploration. 

In my mind, there is no doubt that Twitter is a powerful learning and sharing tool. It is a core component of my daily learning and collaboration. In addition the in information I learn through the people I follow, I use this ‘concept’ approach to augment contacts, knowledge and resources in specific areas such as ipods in the classroom and mobile learning. 

I appreciate all of the Twitter participants who have become part of my PLN. Each day I look forward to the interactions, ongoing learning and collaborating!  See you online!

~ Mark

Open Space Technology for Teacher PD

CATC By the Water is our Board’s summer 3 day ‘computer camp’ for teachers.

Background: CATC is our acronym for Computers Across the Curriculum. ‘By the Water’ is our catch phrase for the location. We have found great success in running this event away from home and away from Board premises to allow total focus on the task at hand by maximizing the learning and minimizing the distractions. Each summer we make the trek from our southern Ontario base north to Barrie (2 hours drive) to Kempenfelt Centre where we have hosted the event for the last 18 years. 

Organizational Strategy: The camp is organized by, and designed to function based on the principle of Open Space Technology to frame the facilitated but self directed learning experience. The principles of Open Space Technology are:

 

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over
  •                                              – Harrison Owen, 1985

    Areas of Focus:  Based on the planning sessions for this year, areas of focus are: literacy, ISTE Standards, collaboration, technology integration, writing and presenting through the use of: SmartBoards, Blogging, Wikis, Rapid Web Designer for the FirstClass environment (RWD), Podcasting with Garageband, Comic Life,  multimedia with iMovie, Adobe Premiere Elements, Adobe  Photoshop Elements and iPhoto,  Smart Ideas, Band in a Box and Finale. Software titles listed in green have been licensed by the Ministry of Education through the work of the OSAPAC Committee (Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee).

    This year, camp facilitating staff are collaborating via the CATC By the Water wiki. Have a look at camp details, follow our progress and enjoy the learning! I am set to enjoy another day of facilitating and learning at CATC By the Water.

    ~ Mark

    Missed the ‘noise’ today

    How ironic! – talk about 2 days of contrast.

    Yesterday my blog post was about managing the ‘noise’ from technology – keeping technology working for you while keeping your life balanced and avoiding information & technology use overload.

    Today, there was a big silence in technology land. I was initially puzzled by the quietness of Twitter. Hmm, my session seems to have timed out. I can’t log back in. Now I jump into trouble shooting mode.

    Maybe it is:

    – my browser: different browser, same issue
    – my computer: same results on another computer, checked 2 browsers
    – an access issue: try logging in through a Twitter client – no luck
    – our network: check with staff, everything is A-OK on our end

    Dig in a little deeper:

    – compare: try to access from my Blackberry – no luck
    – more comparing: can not connect using my Blackberry as a wireless modem

    Now I am convinced something serious is up. I contact a friend and fellow blogger who works in another Board. He was having the same experience but had learned that Twitter was experiencing a major Denial of Services (DoS) attack. Now the only plan of action is to wait! It is up to the staff at Twitter to sort through this mess.

    What did I learn from this?

    I learned I missed the tweets – the trickle of communication coming in from Twitter. I missed learning from the information posted through the tweets and related links. Perhaps more importantly, I recognized how much I learn each day through Twitter and other social media networks and how the people I interact with have become part of my PLN.

    It appears the DoS issue has been resolved – YEAH! I am happy to be connected to my online PLN group again and ready to learn and share.

    ~ Mark