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Showing posts with label professional development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label professional development. Show all posts

Friday, July 30, 2010

Twitter, The 140-Character Chameleon

Creative Commons photo by Go to
If you've been told that all there is to Twitter is telling people what you had for lunch or following celebrities, you've been mislead. For teachers, Twitter is about connecting with colleagues and sharing ideas, resources and advice.

Call it a chameleon, a shape-shifter, use a pipeline analogy - anything you like - but one thing is for sure, you can't nail Twitter down. Twitter is whatever you want it to be. That's what makes it so hard to explain to people who aren't there - yet so brilliant for those who've taken the plunge.

If you're unfamiliar with Twitter and what all the fuss is about, you're not alone. Consider some of the ways this 140-character chameleon can be used.

Broadcast medium - Twitter is permission-based. Every message you send is broadcast to a group of people who deliberately choose to follow your feed. You do not collect email addresses. You never have to worry that you're sending unsolicited messages (or need to give yours). And whether you're broadcasting from an institution, your classroom, or standing in line at the grocery store, Twitter excels at letting you engage with people who want you to share your ideas, blogs, wikis, videos, and websites with them.

PLN builder - Your Personal Learning Network takes a while to build. This is the one thing you should understand - building that PLN requires real work. But once you do, it can be a great morale booster, invaluable source of advice, and cheering section. You can find thousands of advocates for PLNs, any one of whom could guide you, at a Ning run by Thomas Whitby called the Educator's PLN. Sue Waters has an excellent post on how to get started on your PLN with Twitter.

Professional Development - On Twitter, PD is entirely within your control and available literally anytime. Links to resources, lots of them, are Twitter currency. And colleagues are more than willing to share. This can be a wonderful cultural shift if you're not used to it. None of us knows everything, but all of us know something. Together we're better.

Edchat - You can chat with educators in a true global village through #edchat. It happens twice every Tuesday, but continues throughout the week. It's teachers talking to teachers. Real time PD anywhere, anytime. You won't believe the connections you'll make. Check out details from Tom Whitby and Shelly Terrell.

Virtual conference attendance - Short on PD funds? Just tap into a conference by following people who are tweeting from the event. Seriously, there will usually be someone there. Just search for the event name here, look for a hashtag, and you can monitor and participate in what's happening in that very room in real time.
Live blogging - Send a constant stream of tweets from a particular session or keynote and you'll be providing a wonderful public service to those who are following a conference or other event.

Backchannel - Following the hashtag for a particular conference session lets you communicate with other people in the same session. You can message people across the room, in another session, even those folks who are participating virtually a continent away - in real time. This sounds incredibly disruptive, but can work so well. Sometimes presenters will choose to display the backchannel tweets so they can get real time feedback on what's on the minds of the audience. Backchannels can greatly enrich your conference experience.

Complaints dept. - Get the attention of large companies and other organizations (at the least the smart ones who are listening) by mentioning your problem and including their name in a hashtag. Conscientious organizations will monitor their mentions and will often contact you to see if they can help.

Tech support - Crowd source (from your PLN) support answers to your vexing technical problems. Tell your followers what you're having difficulty with and tap into their expertise.

Subscription service - Whether it's Alfie Kohn, Sarah McLachlan, Lance Armstrong, or Michael Buble, Twitter gives you a glimpse into people's lives and the illusion (or the reality if you're lucky) of proximity to notable personalities. You can follow a author, a movement, a magazine like Fast Company or an organization like the National Education Association or the Canadian Teachers' Federation in real time.

Disaster and emergency tool - The American and Canadian Red Cross, Center for Disease Control, and police departments both stateside and in Canada are using Twitter to alert people to emergencies and send warnings and alerts.

Share your tastes and activities - Remember that tweet what you have for lunch thing? You can do that too, if you r-e-a-l-l-y want to. Some people even tweet pictures of it - ugh!

Real time search - websites are the institutional voices of organizations, tweets are authentic voices of real people. Find out what's happening on any topic under the sun by entering it at Twitter Search. Go ahead, type in anything under the scholastic sun to see what people are saying. You can use this to lurk and see the flood of real-time information on any topic before opening your official account.

News on demand - News from all the major corporate suspects are on Twitter, like the CBC, CNN, the Globe and Mail and the New York Times. But so are thousands of local news outlets - and millions of citizen journalists. If there's an accident on the highway, poor road conditions, plane crash, a dust-up at sporting event, you'll probably hear about it on Twitter before TV, radio and print get it.

Broadcast the revolution - When @cnn couldn't get reporters on the ground during election protests in Iran, citizens in the street tweeted all the drama and fed the world text and video as it happened. Glasnost and perestroika would have happened years earlier if the Polish shipyard workers had Twitter.

Journaling - Your Twitter feed is considered a microblog. But the truth is your tweets will disappear into the ether after a few months. If you want to save them longer than that, check out or You can also send your tweets directly to your Evernote account.

Look at me, look at me! - A bit of shameless self-promotion is expected. So, go ahead and brag about what you or your kids are doing - you're allowed. Don't worry, your PLN will give you props.

Admittedly, there is overlap the categories above. But this list is nowhere near exhaustive. The point is, that Twitter can be a tremendous boon to your personal and professional life. It really is anything you want it to be. Simply put, Twitter puts you in touch with colleagues and great PD, and it makes your world larger.
Skeptical? Read How One Tweet Changed a Teacher's View of Social Media by Irene Tortolini.
If you still have questions or doubts, there are over 4,700 colleagues who can help you back at the Educator's PLN.

If you have questions, comment below and I'll help.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

5 Quick Tips for iPhone Users

New iPhone 3G Hits Stores Across U.S

Whether you bought your iPhone last week or a year ago, you know there's always something new to learn. So here goes...

1) Fly Through Calendar Months
Tired of repeatedly mashing your finger on your calendar's right and left arrow buttons to scroll through the year? Hold them down instead and watch the months fly by.

2) Compose Emails Twice as Fast
Dragon Dictation is the voice-to-text app you need. It's fast, free, and it lets you compose emails - or take notes - using only your voice. If you've never played with an app like this before, you'll be amazed at its speed and accuaracy. You can copy your text to your clipboard for insertion into other apps, or send it on its way via email. You owe it to yourself to try this freebie.

3) Track Your Blog Hits
No need to open Google Analytics on your desktop. Just grab Analytics App ($6.99) from the app store and load your username and passwords for your websites and blogs. You'll get instant access to all the numbers that make or break your day.

4) Check Out iPhone Web Apps
Looking for something different? You can spend hours browsing the app store. But did you know there are an extra 4,500 Apple web apps you can add to your iPhone or iTouch. Lots of categories. Some are unique products: Carbon Footprint Calculator, Color Mail and StreetMaven to name a few. You don't download these apps, you save them to your home page. Don't know how? Follow these instructions under "One Tap Web Apps."

5) Power Up Your PD
You can download audio and video versions of superb Classroom 2.0 Live professional development sessions recorded in Elluminate. Just open your iTunes app, hit search, punch in "Classroom 2.0 Live" and download the sessions you want.