12 Reasons Why I Use Twitter

TechPudding on Twitter

That’s me. On Twitter.

It’s been a long time since I last posted. In between, I (finally) discovered the power of microblogging on Twitter. I freely admit that I am late to the Twitter party and a beginner in many ways. It took me about three weeks to discover the elements of microblogging that appeal to me. Like any new innovation, you need a reason to use it, and to stick with it for a little while in order to see the potential.

12 Reasons Why I Use Twitter

  1. I have suddently discovered thousands of inspirational educators, creative ideas, and thought-provoking resources
  2. Sending out my thoughts into the great beyond is empowering and makes me think (for real or otherwise) that some people want to hear what I have to say
  3. I can find people who think like me
  4. I can find people who think differently from me
  5. I have discovered local (and by local I mean people in my community, city, province, and country) who are doing amazing work and I can actually connect with them – may I mention among many, Astronaut Chris Hadfield @Cmdr_Hadfield as part of my Professional Learning Network (PLN)?
  6. I can be a part of the massive network that influences what ideas, opinions and work gets shared across the world, and who it is shared with
  7. I can always find something fun, interesting, and useful in my network
  8. I sometimes get lost in Tweets, from one link to another, from one person to another. It’s like wandering through a forest wherever your feet take you and discovering everything along the way
  9. It’s really easy to set up an account and participate
  10. When you don’t have time to fully reflect by engaging in a deep discussion or writing a blog post, Twitter allows you to do a mini-reflection on the go or star interesting items to use later
  11. I hear local and world news not just from corporate news sources, but from real people
  12. I can Tweet about what interests me: communications and marketing, change management, edtech, and good television @TechPudding

Many tips and tricks have been written, shared, and yes, Tweeted about Twitter and microblogging. Here are a few of the best that I have found.

For New Tweeters

For Pro Tweeters

Tweeps I Follow

Here are just a few Tweeps out of the 1,300+ that I enjoy following. I try to follow people with a variety of viewpoints and expertise. There are so many–it’s best to start with a few by searching for terms that you are interested in or people that you already know about. I will feature some local Tweeps in a later post!

  • @MobileSyrup – An independent resource on mobile technology in Canada connecting to those who are mobile enthusiasts, professionals and shoppers
  • @web20classroom, Steven W. Anderson – An incredible educator and speaker with an excellent blog http://blog.web20classroom.org
  • @LDRB – LDRLB (pronounced leader lab) – An online think tank that shares insights from research on leadership, innovation, and strategy
  • @tomwhitby Tom Whitby – Prof of Edu (Ret). Founder: #Edchat, The EDU PLN, Edchat Radio Linkedin Tech-Using Profs
  • @oldaily Stephen Downes – A Canadian researcher and educator on the cutting edge of MOOCS, e-learning and new media
  • @gsiemens George Siemens – A Canadian professor and educator, also on the cutting edge of MOOCS, connectivist learning and edtech
  • @ChristensenInst Clayton Christensen Institute – A nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to improving the world through disruptive innovation
  • @ThisIsSethsBlog Seth Godin – Founder of http://Squidoo.com, author, and blogger
  • @Flocabulary Flocabulary – Flocabulary produces educational hip-hop music and some of it is free to use! There are a variety of themes from language arts to math

If you haven’t yet, will you give it a try? If you’re a microblogging fanatic, what’s the best part for you? Any tips to share (or Tweet)?

I invite you to try it out! And I invite you to follow me @TechPudding if you’re interested in communications, edtech, and leadership!

Why Do Online Discussions Fail?

Over the past few months I have been re-designing online courses that help to support teachers as they integrate technology into blended and online learning environments.

I am going to try to make more time to share my insights with you, beginning with this post about using discussion boards in learning.

Many educators use online discussion tools to facilitate conversations with students, colleagues, and other contacts. Educators often find that the quality of the responses are poor and/or participation is low. Here are some possible reasons why students may not fully engage in discussions:

  • Students have been provided with too little scaffolding and support. 
Is there a response rubric for the discussion? Have students had the chance to practice quality responses? Has the facilitator modelled responses that provide illustrative links and resources, ask further questions, or provide examples to fuel the discussion?
  • The discussion came from, and leads, nowhere. 
What happens before the discussion that led to an online conversation? What happens after the discussion? How do participants and facilitators draw and share conclusions based on their discussion? Like any well-planned lesson, students need scaffolded instruction and activities that build on previous learning and help them to build understanding over a sustained period of time.
  • Discussion questions are unclear. How have discussion questions been worded? What is the purpose of the discussion question? Is the question too open- or closed-ended? Here are some examples to consider:
    • Poor example: Have you ever been in a blended classroom? 
(Problem: The question has a “yes” or “no” answer; the question is too “closed.”)
    • Better example: What do you consider to be the difference between blended learning and face to face instruction? 
(Problem: The question is asking an opinion without the need for examples or references; the question can have a very broad interpretation.)
    • Great example: Explain what you consider to be the three key elements of blended/online learning and the three key elements of face to face instruction. Include links, examples, and resources to illustrate your ideas. Respond to two other posts with links, examples, ideas, and resources.
      • This great example would be even better if participants built upon their first round of posts after additional lessons and/or application. Example: Add to your original discussion thread and include one example of how you applied an element of blended/online learning in your environment. Highlight two elements that you feel were most successful in your example and two changes that you would make next time. Respond to two posts with feedback or resources that relate to your colleague’s example.
  • Discussions are used only to share opinions.
Discussions can also be used to:
    • Share and gather feedback on in-progress work
    • Hold reflective conversations about learning progress
    • Share resources, materials, and links
    • Spark or follow up after f2f conversations, review concepts, and more.

There are many tips around using discussions as part of a dynamic learning environment. Do you have more to add?

(Image: Pacman, by Fenix_21. 2008. Available under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0) License.)

Ultra-networked Semantic Services: Are you ready?

Thanks so much for stopping by to check out TechPudding lately! If you just happened to be bored enough to keep track of my blogging, you’ll know that I wrote almost every day from February to April and then virtually disappeared from the blogosphere until now. This is because the end of the year brought some exciting and time consuming changes. I found out that I will be joining a team in the fall that is responsible for planning and implementing technology integration and use throughout a school board of over 200 schools. I am extra excited because I get to share ideas and learn with and from some very insightful brains. So needless to say, the last two months of the year were very busy as I wrapped up my technology lead role in my school. When I finally had the chance to catch my breath, I took full advantage of it and have enjoyed a summer of laid back relaxation.

So now it’s time to wake up my circuits and get back into the swing of things. Here it goes!

I found this video titled, The Future Internet: Service Web 3.0 by semantictechnology, that not only talks about the increasingly interconnectedness of Web 3.0, but also what it could mean for our future.

The number of users and the amount of content being produced online is growing exponentially. Furthermore, each user has an increasing number of access points to the Internet including multiple computers, mobile phones, tablets, and more. Not only are we increasingly connected as both producers and consumers of content in the digital universe, but the devices that we use to connect to the Internet are also connected to each other.

web connection imageNetworked, hyper-personalized digital services will use the information from every action, location, and interaction that we make in increasingly subtle ways. These services will continuously learn about our patterns of behaviour, wants, needs, and actions, and make recommendations to us based on our behaviours. The future economy will be sustained through the connections that personalized smart systems have with each and every user.

This is where semantic technologies come in to make sense of the many ways in which we communicate digitally. Semantic technologies will de-code user-created content and actions and help other pieces of technology to use it in the creation of personalized recommendations. The everyday objects that we interact with will make up the “Internet of things,” where each object will play a part in monitoring what we do, where we go, and what we buy. Unified, networked services and processes on the Internet will help businesses reach consumers, markets, investors, and other businesses more efficiently and seamlessly.

The video predicts that the Internet will be pervasive in our lives, and offers that we will have to develop boundaries and limits to protect our personal information. This raises serious questions that already exist about personal privacy, as well as how much we should rely on such services in case they fail. I am also concerned about the hyper-personalization of services, information, and applications. I feel as though this will contribute even more to the isolation of people from each other when they become attached to only a handful of “realms” online, if you can call them that. However, the Internet of things may also help to organize like-minded individuals to connect and pursue positive endeavours.

I believe that educators will need to understand the nature of the connection between users and the technologies that we use. We will have to learn to think about the consequences and connections that are translated through our devices and everyday objects every time we interact with them. Our digital footprints will not only leave information about our preferences, actions, and wants, but will also influence future recommendations and in effect, our future decisions, are made. Communication, collaboration, and creation will be the most valued skills because it is the integration of information from multiple sources that will influence our decisions. We should be teaching our students to use the semantic web to combine multiple pieces of information in order to make well thought out decisions because if we don’t, someone or something else may do it for them…

What are your thoughts on this vision of Web 3.0? Please share!

Image: Design by connection, by Dave Gray. 2011. Used under a Creative Commons license.