Tag Archives: twitter

Twitter at the Board Table

Tonight I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a presentation to the WRDSB Trustees. The focus of the presentation was to provide in-servicing regarding the many diverse program opportunities and supports for secondary school students. Main goals included a demonstration of using social media tools in a classroom context and to showcase work from our Futures Forum Project.

@kimkeena provided a nice over view of many of our secondary program offerings, with a focus on eLearning and Futures Forum opportunities.

My role was to provide an explanation of Twitter in less than 5 minutes, then introduce a brief activity. Click here to view the slide deck of my Twitter explanation effort. Students were seated a various tables with our Trustees. After sharing their thoughts describing how learning in our Futures Forum classes was different from their experience in traditional classrooms, their thoughts were shared via Twitter using the hashtag #wrdsbtss.  I demonstrated a live Twitter feed using Twitterfall to capture and display tweets from the group.

Next, @kempscott demonstrated a Google Docs collaborative writing example. The evening closed with a student speaking about his experience in one of our alternative learning programs.

All in all, a great evening and wonderful opportunity to share our student learning experiences with our Trustees.

~ Mark

Teaching the Facebook Generation

I came across this post today via Twitter from @pmcash.

The article covers the use of social media tools with in Australian schools. Based on the article, the general approach seems to be cautious about allowing access. Concerns raised include safety, teacher awareness of how to use the tools and online relationships between teachers and students.

In my Board (WRDSB), we have been making great strides in moving forward with the use of social media tools. Facebook and Twitter (and other tools too) are open for use to support curriculum delivery. These tools offer incredible opportunities to connect, collaborate and access real world information and events in real time. Teachers are finding many exciting uses for these technologies within the classroom.

Currently, teachers are using Facebook for:

  • fan pages to distribute classroom resources to students (& parents), raise awareness of issues etc.
  • study and enrichment groups
  • online writing (poetry, character analysis, debates/discussion re current events etc.)
  • opportunities to share student work (within groups)
  • online galleries (artwork, student created music and videos etc.)
  • teacher feedback and peer review
  • ‘ask a question’ homework groups
  • casual writing for learning second languages
  • teaching digital citizenship in a real world context

It is critical that staff and students understand the importance of having their privacy and security settings set up appropriately. This must be part of the education process.

In terms of staff/student relationships in this environment, it is business as usual in many respects. Any online relationship must follow the same professional conduct as any situation whether it is in the classroom, on the playground, on a school trip or in an extra curricular situation. Relationships must be kept at the professional level. No one should put themselves in a risky situation.

These social media tools are powerful — we need to leverage their power to support curricular delivery, while educating staff/students about appropriate use and maintaining the required professionalism within these environments.

~ Mark

Up next: Demonstrating Twitter to our Trustee group on March 7th.


Stats: the survey says …

When I got home today the newest publication from the Ontario Teachers College was in the mailbox. I did a quick thumb through and the article that initially caught my eye was the ‘Survey says …’

The article reports on a recent members survey. I noted two points:

1. Usage of social media by teachers is increasing (not really a surprise). Details showed

  • 30.1% connect on Facebook for up to 2 hours per week
  • 32.4 % watch YouTube for a little under an hour/week
  • 50.3% tune into YouTube for as much as 2 hours/week
  • 35.8% use other forms of social media

2. In answer to the question ‘Should the college (OTC) make use of social media tools?’, I found the results very interesting.

  • MySpace 8%
  • LinkedIn 11%
  • Twitter 14%
  • YouTube 20%
  • Facebook 48%

Hmmm. Facebook wins by a landslide. While I am not surprised that members see value in using Facebook as a connecting tool, the margin of choice was surprising to me. I would have also anticipated the Twitter use would have been higher, especially given the extensive education based PLNs members are using effectively.

It is good to see the overall growth in the use of social media tools. Keep those PLN online connections alive. Invite a new person to participate today!

~ Mark

Kicking off the 2010-2011 School Year

I enter the 2010-2011 school year with great anticipation and excitement.  Many of the projects that were in major planning stages last year will ‘go live’ this year.

  • Effective today, we have wifi hot spots in each secondary school. These hot spots will allow staff and students to use their own equipment for Internet access.
  • Expanded use of web 2.0 and social media tools to support curriculum delivery. Staff and students now have access to Facebook. Facebook and Twitter, along with other resources will be used to extend school community and support curriculum delivery.
  • By mid month, we will role out email for elementary students. In addition to the secondary role out last April, all students fill have a Board assigned email address to support curriculum and communication needs, and identification in other online environments.  All students will be part of our FirstClass system.
  • Launching our Future Forum project (semester 2), developed as our 2009/2010 PLP project
  • Automated processes now reduce manual work to support account management
  • Redesigned and significantly improved drupal based web sites for our secondary schools
  • Moodle hosted setup to deliver Health and Safety content (launched Sept. 2nd)

Significant projects for this year include:

  • expanded development of our Library Learning Commons (LLC) project
  • a complete rewrite of our Technology Acceptable Use procedure to align with Digital Code of Conduct, Digital Citizenship, and Character Development programs
  • iPads & netbooks in the classroom
  • continued involvement in the PLP program
  • a look at e-book strategies
  • expanding our wireless project
  • building on our Digital Citizenship program

Day one went well. We hit our startup targets and hit the road running. It is going to be a great year!

~ Mark

Streaming with your iPhone

We decided to take a drive down to see the lights at Niagara Falls as a family holiday outing. Ummm, how about adding a sprinkle of tech stuff to spice things up. Great idea! – left with my iPhone fully charged.

Prep Work: I had recently downloaded two apps to do live streaming from the iPhone to a website where others could watch live, or watch the saved video clips, provided they knew the web address. For this particular event I decided to try the QIK app. Once the free software was downloaded, setting up the software was a snap – register a user ID, password and email address and you are ready – it is that easy. Any video you shoot is streamed to the vendor website and linked to your account, http://qik.com/markwcarbone in my case. Entry level accounts are free. Some upgrades are available.

At the Falls: Once we arrived and cased out some parking, I flipped a note out on Twitter and Facebook to announce my streaming experiment. I had lots of fun experimenting with the iPhone video as there was plenty to look at – Christmas lights, Disney light displays and of course the Falls themselves. Given the evening darkness, below 0 temperatures and the freezing mist, I was not sure how things would turn out. I was pleased with the results given the conditions. I am sure the steaming with ‘regular’ lighting conditions would yield great results.

As it turned out, my streaming experiment was viewed from Windsor, Ottawa, Florida, Oakville and Kitchener. Thanks to @dougpete, @kimmcgill@kpuddington, @kimsten, @trustsocmedia and @rebrouse for tuning in and providing some feedback!

Sample Video Clips

The Falls Take 1
The Falls Take 2
The Falls Take 3

Of course, it does take long to start thinking about all of the educational possibilities to use this technology for recording events, interviews, field trips, experiments …. how exciting!!!

Try the app: iTunes Link to Qik Live

I think with this app, ‘have fun’ goes without really saying it. 🙂

~ 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: 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.


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.



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


See you online.

~ Mark

Classroom: Twitter in Action

In my August 19th blog post, Classroom: Student use of Twitter, I ended my post with the following comment:

“Communication strategies and student engagement are often given as reasons for looking at Twitter use in the classroom. I believe the skillful teacher will find the right fit for Twitter as a curriculum support tool.”

Last night I found a good example of a skillful teacher using Twitter in the classroom. How appropriate that I found this example through Twitter!

In the video, The Twitter Experiment – UT Dallas, Dr. Monica Rankin, Professor of History at the University of Texas at Dallas, School of Arts and Humanities, who has been using Twitter in her classroom talks about her approach and initial observations of this new tool. Dr. Rankin acknowledges that Twitter use in her classroom is experimental, and that it is important to ‘play in the mess’ to figure out the most effective use for her classroom, students and subject matter.

While acknowledging the 140 character limit of a Twitter message, both Dr. Rankin and students interviewed identified a number of advantages to incorporating Twitter into the classroom setting. Comments included:

  • greater participation of students
  • accommodation of more input/comments than could have been spoken in class
  • shy students that may not have spoken in class were involved in the discussion
  • the discussion continued outside of class time
  • the instructor participated in ongoing discussions even when duties took her away from the university

I noted that students accessed Twitter with a variety of different technologies: desktops, laptops, netbooks and smartphones. Students that did not have access to technology were accommodated  by having their hand written Tweets entered on their behalf after class.

The YouTube video,  The Twitter Experiment – UT Dallas (apprx 5 1/2 minutes) is well worth the watch.

~ Mark

Clarifying 20c / 21c learning

This blog post is the result of connections made between a live event, Twitter, blogs and related commenting. This is a good example of technology supporting a focused learning session,  with an invitation extended for some participation by remote educators. 

Background: David Warlick was delivering a visioning and leadership session at Greater Essex County School Board. As part of the session, David had posed the question: What is the difference between 20th and 21st century learning? There is no doubt this is a great question to ponder and attempt to wrap your mind around. 

The Connections:

  • David wrote a blog article focusing on this question
  • An invitation to ‘weigh in’ on the discussion was posted on Twitter
  • Many active educators on Twitter would view the invite
  • Some would check out the blog post, while others would participate in the commenting as well
  • For those who commented, their writing was reviewed and posted if suitable

The original blog post and the comments are all well written and interesting to read. As an active member of the educational online community, I certainly appreciated the opportunity to ‘weigh in’ and participate. 

A few highlights from the ongoing discussion include:

  • positive traits of 2oth and 21st century learning
  • a decade into the 21st century, why do we still refer to 21st century learning?
  • student engagement – who owns this? and do teachers own it alone?
  • are education and learning the same thing? or different?

After reading the comments and decided to submit a comment, I was thinking about some connections to the Element by Dr. Ken Robinson. In his book, the Element, he discusses the need to develop ALL of the intelligences in a person. Robinson declares that you are in ‘the element’ when you hit the sweet spot of doing what you excel at and what you are passionate about. 

Helping students find their element, by using the best instructional strategies available while taking advantage of appropriate technologies to support student learning and success is the journey we are on together. Perhaps this is what we mean, at least in part,  by 21st century learning.

David Warlick’s original blog post:  What is the difference between 20th and 21st century learning?

My comment (now posted): I like your definition David. There are a few points that stick in my mind that I would like to share.

1. I believe the use of the term ’21st century learning’ is inclusive of embedding the technology tools that we have access to as part of the learning process. It is not about the technology itself, but rather strategic integration of the tools we have (now or at some future point) to foster the best possible learning environment and opportunities. Certainly, we have those that embrace, and those that do not and perhaps this comparison drives our notion of 21st century learning.

2. I also think that there is a potential to make today’s curriculum more individualized for the independent and collaborative learners we develop.

3. In some ways, we reference 20th century learning as if was all bad. This is certainly no so in my mind. I expect we could make a good case to revisit a few areas we excelled at before the ‘digital’ time began.

Our journey is all about the learner. Creating the best possible learning environment covers the ‘whole playing field’ – curriculum design, building design, teacher training, assessment, changing with the times, best use of technology and steady, reflective incremental improvement. After all, we are life long learners!

~ 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.


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