Tag Archives: PLN

PLP Experience Focuses on Educator Learning

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email inviting me to participate in a set of interviews for a story about how PLP cohorts help educators learn. Having just completed an exciting year participating in the PLP program lead by @snbeach and @willrich45, I was eager to participate.

I took a bit of time to check out Converge, an online publication and located education reporter and writer @reportertanya on Twitter and Linked In, then replied to the email indicating my interest. The next couple of emails exchanged covered some background information and arranging a time to connect via skype for the interview.

On interview day, we connected via skype at the appointed time, bridging California and Ontario, and had a 45 minute video discussion about my experience in the Ontario PLP program, what I felt my key learnings were and what our Board will be doing differently as a result of participating in the PLP project.

Congratulations to:

  • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson for designing and running the PLP program to provide an excellent training opportunity for educators, and
  • Tanya Roscorla for her excellent research and article – well done!

Enjoy the published article, Global Communities Rethink Learning at the Converge website.

~ Mark

Twitter users bring perspective to classroom activity

Last month I had the pleasure of attending at trip to Lawfield Elementary School. I wrote about some of the things I learned and observed from my visit in a earlier blog post. One of the highlights for me was meeting teacher Zoe Branigan-Pipe. We had a brief opportunity for an engaging dialogue that day about the integration of technology and social media tools into classroom activities, and since then have been following each other’s activity on Twitter.

This past week, an interesting sequence of events occurred. One of  Zoe’s students wrote a blog post about a recent assessment activity in which the students were permitted to collaborate prior to submitting their answers. The student’s blog post was considering this experience from two points of view:

1. Is this cheating?  Should we be approaching assessment in this way?
2. Is this collaborating?

You could tell from the blog post that the student was really struggling with ‘what felt right’, and was clearly surprised by the collaborating opportunity.

Later that evening, Zoe posted a comment on Twitter asking her educator based PLN group to have a look at the student’s blog post and provide some feedback (comments). Within a couple of hours, at least 12 people, myself included, read and posted comments on the student blog. The common theme of the posts were:

  • knowledge is important, but it is also important to develop other work and life skills too
  • collaboration skills are needed and used in the workplace
  • development of collaboration skills is important for future success
  • take advantage of opportunities to participate in collaboration and consensus building opportunities

I have not had an opportunity to touch base with Zoe to find out more about the student’s reaction to the comments, but I will have an opportunity to do so within the next few days. I thought this was a great example of a teacher using their PLN group to provide real life context to a classroom situation via social networking tools. Well done!

~ Mark

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