It’s connected educator month. There’s a flurry of activity among teachers and administrators looking to connect through Twitter and other social media to advance their learning, especially as a new school year looms.
As schools gear up and prepare for a new school year with technology increasingly ubiquitous, now’s the time to consider how schools can create a positive impact with technology.
Professor Alec Couros captures the essential element for schools to keep in mind as they move forward with technology initiatives. In an interview with Howard Rheingold for Digital Media and Learning, he comments on the need to focus on “what will endure,” the importance of connections and relationships to help foster, build and sustain the life of the “networked” teacher.
Though schools possess tremendous resources in teachers, the challenge can be how to connect teachers with each other, to ward off isolation and leverage the power of the “room” and the collective intelligence.
Stanford University’s d.School has started offering a course called d.Compress – Designing Calm, to have students tackle and address the issue of digital balance and mindfulness.
Soren Gordhamer, the founder and host of Wisdom 2.0 writes on the Huffington Post that the “real conversation” is “about how to connect to one another through technology — and in person — purposefully, in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective for our work, and useful to the world.”
He advocates for intention and purpose to create social good: “[Technology] becomes a tool to break down barriers and create a better world. Of course, we all need balance to perform well, but Continue reading →
Twitter and Facebook might soon replace traditional professional development for teachers. Instead of enduring hours-long workshops a few times a year, teachers could reach out to peers on the Internet in real time for advice on things like planning a lesson (or salvaging a lesson that’s going wrong), overcoming classroom management problems, or helping students with disabilities.
“Being connected [through social-networking sites] is an opportunity for growth anytime, anywhere,” said Steve Anderson, director of instructional technology for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in North Carolina, speaking yesterday at the second annual #140edu conference, a reference to Twitter’s 140 character limit for tweets. A teacher can go on Twitter, he added, and “learn 10 new things.”
A teacher can go on Twitter and “learn 10 new things.”
Traditional forms of on-the-job training for teachers have been much-maligned in recent years by experts and by teachers themselves. “Many times professional development is like herding cattle: We’re taking everybody in the same direction. We’re going to learn the same thing,” said Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in northern New Jersey.
Kids are using Instagram and Twitter in their daily lives outside of school, so why not let them use it for class studies too? This is just one example of many featured in this second episode of Infinite Thinking Machine, a Web TV show for teachers produced by Computer Using Educators (CUE), which shows how to use students’ mobile devices in school. Examples like quick class polling to gauge student understanding using Poll Everywhere, Text the Mob and Wiffitti; creating instructional videos on sites like Educreations.
For this episode, CUE asked yours truly to do a segment on how educators use Google Chats and video conferencing, and you’ll see some of those examples, as well. Check it out!
If you want to see a teacher fume, just bring up the topic of cell phones in class.
Technology, especially social media and text messaging, competes for students’ attention as never before. When half of social media users say they check messages from bed, and 11 percent of those 25 or younger are willing to interrupt sex for a Twitter or Facebook message, what chance do teachers have of keeping students’ attention in class?
Then again, teachers often have their own problems paying attention.
We chide students for texting in class but then encourage them to tweet. We force students to put away their phones when we lead class discussions but then immerse ourselves in our own screens when colleagues speak. At meetings of all sorts, we have accepted a new posture: heads down, fingers tapping out words, eyes awaiting responses. Faculty members have adopted many of the same habits they condemn in their students.
We want students to be engaged because it fosters learning. And yet the rules of engagement are changing — in education, in business, in life.
It seems, then, that everyone, teachers and students alike, need to find new ground rules on how to engage when real and online life collide. Continue reading →
The idea of using the pencil as an analogy to talk about technology in the classroom is hardly a new one. But the analogy has resurfaced and spread in recent weeks, sparked in part by a reading of John T. Spencer’s book Pencil Me In, which uses the pencil allegory to talk about technology integration, and by the virality of the Twitter hashtag #pencilchat.
Comparing the tools — pencils and computers — is something that Seymour Papert, “the father of educational computing,” has done for decades now. Back in 1984, Papert wrote:
Imagine (if you can) that we lived in a world without writing–and, of course, without pencils, pens and books. Then one day, somebody invents writing and the pencil, and people say, “Wow, this would be great for education. Let’s give these things to all the children and teach Continue reading →
Students at Burton High experiment with tweeting in class.
By Matthew Williams
Last month, 50 eleventh- and twelfth-graders at San Francisco’s Burton High School started tweeting in class for the first time.
Many were familiar with Twitter and some use it on a daily basis, but never for school. As in most instances, there’s a major disconnect between the role of social media in their lives outside school — where they use Twitter and Facebook to chat with friends, and update their status — and what happens at Burton. This class also demonstrates what recent studies have shown: that a large majority of kids have cell phones, even if they come from low-income families. In these two classes, 90% of students had cell phones, and 63% qualify for free or reduced lunch.
But the fact that they were tweeting in class was enough to get them excited in the project. On this particular day, they were asked to tweet about what they remembered about 9/11.
“I think that using Twitter to do an assignment is maybe the coolest assignment in school.”
“I remember my mom screaming for my auntie to look at the tv. Also me and my sister not going to school that day,” wrote one student.
“i didn’t know what was going on but i was scared.”
One student tied it to the war that followed: “the gov prolly didn’t stop 911 cuz they prolly had more benefits from the aftermath. Ie. Patriot act,war,etc.”
Most of the kids immediately took to the idea for a number of different reasons. Continue reading →