No Power, No Worries!

It never ceases to amaze me how resourceful and creative teachers can be.

As I write this post I am listening to the fascinating and well spoken Ryan Brown present on how he uses a Web 2.0 tool, Edmodo

Ryan Brown Presenting

While it is not unusual for me to be listening to IT professional development, it is unusual for the presentation to be done in a semi-dark room without the assistance of any electrical technology.

CEGSA2013 is currently in blackout mode – there is no electricity in the few suburbs around us and we have lost all access to IWB’s, data projectors, wireless access and desktop computers!

Has the conference been called off? Has there been a massive walkout of disgruntled delegates. The answer to this is a resounding NO!

What I am seeing is people with wireless data points or mobile Internet access sharing their facilities, presenters and delegates clustered around a single iPad which is showing a presentation originally intended for a larger whiteboard screen. Websites are being drawn on “non interactive” whiteboards to explain how to access different things at a later point in time.

Everyone is still engaged in the learning process. We are still upholding the conference theme of connecting with people and sharing the learning.

While it might be easier with the benefits of electricity and technology – teachers are still experts at making sure these essential elements of engagement and sharing occur!

Twitter for Beginners!

I would love to share with you all about the benefits I have found from using Twitter, the connections I have made and the people I am able to learn from and share my learning with.

 

For me, Twitter is all about

  • knowing what is going on, nationally and internationally, in areas that interest me
  • having resources shared with me that are tried and tested by other teachers
  • connecting with other people who inspire me and challenge my thinking
  • sometimes meeting the people I tweet with in “real life”

 

 

I found this to be a great video for a quick overview as to why Twitter is great for educators

If you want to read more about how Twitter is good for educators, I suggest reading George Couros’ blog post and the comments on this post Does Twitter Improve Education?

So What is Twitter?

Officially, Twitter describes itself as:

At the heart of Twitter are small bursts of information called Tweets. Each Tweet is 140 characters long, but don’t let the small size fool you—you can discover a lot in a little space. You can see photos, videos and conversations directly in Tweets to get the whole story at a glance, and all in one place.

It is a microblogging site, which allows you to share your ideas and resources, in the form of Tweets, with your followers or people following the same #hashtag as you.

This video was a great way of describing different aspects of Tweets and Twitter

Anatomy of a Tweet

This is a great post that breaks down exactly what can be found in a tweet.

A dictionary for abbreviations and terms you might see on Twitter

 

Getting Started

Getting started on Twitter is as easy as going to the Twitter website and signing up for an accout

Sue Waters @SueWaters The Twitteraholic’s Ultimate Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter

Edudemic’s 25 Ways to Get the Most Out of Twitter

TeachThought’s 20 Most Useful #hashtags in Education

George Couros @gcouros What Should A Networked Leader Share About?

Heidi Cohen’s Twitter Etiquette

 

Some people/hashtags to follow

The way I started was to follow people who interested me and yes there were some celebrities in this mix too – I’m not all about work completely. Use the search function in Twitter to look up the person you are interested in reading about and see if they are on Twitter. Sometimes when you find someone whose Tweets you enjoy reading, it pays to look at who they follow to see if there is anyone there you might be interested in following too.

#edchat – this #hashtag ticks over incredibly fast but it is definitely worth a look as the main education # in the world

#ozedchat – the Australian version of #edchat

#aussieED

@EduTweetOz is a reasonably new account which has “Australian educators from all sectors share their ideas, experiences, questions & passion.”

Sue Waters maintains a list of Australian educators on Twitter – this is a good list to start looking at for Australians sharing great ideas

@JAKnipe – blatant plug for my own Twitter account! 🙂

 

I hope this brief rundown has been of help and that you take those first steps and be brave enough to put yourself out there and try something new.

Why Blogging is Like Teaching in the Country


cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by mtneer_man

Something that George Couros shared with us today at his Masterclass really resonated with me.

As an ex country teacher, an aspect of teaching in a small country town that I really loved was that you saw your students in situations other than the classroom and they saw you outside of school too. There were no Junior Primary beliefs that the teacher lived in the classroom and slept in the sickroom. Students in the country know that their teachers are real people who have lives, families, sports and interests outside of school.

George spoke today of the professional effects for him of sharing important happenings from his personal life with his school and professional network. We heard how he has seen people, who only saw him in his role as a principal, change their attitude to him when they understood that there was more to him than just his work. They knew from reading his blog/twitter feed that he was a whole person and their attitude changed when they were dealing with a man rather than an administrator.

For me, this seems very similar to the regard with which teachers, on the whole, are given when teaching in the country. To use technology which is so often seen as a barrier to human connections, to open up people’s view to the fact that teachers are not emotionless bureaucrat, but rather professionals with passions and concerns of their own, can only be a benefit to our profession and our cause as a whole.

George shared this video with us on how one person has been recording online aspects of his child’s growth from baby to young child which brought tears to quite a few eyes.


Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be seen as whole people and regarded as such, rather than just a 9-3 professional

 

Where’s My Backchannel?

It is amazing how quickly you grow accustomed to something and then how much you miss it when it is no longer available.

Backchannelling

Photo Credit: Michael Coghlan via Compfight

I will be the first to admit that I have not been a serious user of Twitter for very long – since July 2012 which also happened to be the date of the CEGSA 2012 conference. It was there that I was convinced by George Couros (@gcouros) that there was more to Twitter than the following of celebrities that I had been doing up until then. I was following a very standard twitter adoption path similar to the one outlined by Daniel Edwards (@syded06here (by the way I am now somewhere between step 8 or 9)

Anyhow, it was while I was recently attending a non IT related conference ( yes I do go to PD that is related to other aspects of teaching too)  that  I realised how spoilt I have been in  regards to the use social media as a major part of my professional learning.

When I first arrived at the conference I noticed that I was one of the few pulling out my iPad to take notes on. That was ok. I am used to this, though it is nice now in staff meetings since our staff have been given iPads to use, that I am not the only one taking digital notes.

The next major difference I discovered was the wifi. After being at many conferences/PD days where good quality wifi access is the norm, it was quite a shock to discover that at this venue the wifi was locked down and you were expected to pay quite a lot of money to access it!  That was overcome too though as I just hooked the iPad up to the iPhone and voilà – internet access!
(We won’t talk about how doing this caused my phone’s battery to flatten very quickly!)

However all of these are very minor problems which, as I have said, were overcome quite easily. The biggest issue I faced at this conference was the fact that the backchannel I have become so accustomed to was missing. Compare this to when I was working for CEGSA in Perth for ACEC2012, I wasn’t even in the room for most of the keynotes or sessions but I had a great idea of what was going on because of all the people in the room who were sharing their ideas/thoughts and resources along with what the keynote/presenter was putting out there. Even when I have been in the room while a session was happening, Twitter has been an invaluable provider of extra information, understanding and resources as you are able to not only have the benefit of your own interpretation of what you are learning but also that of the rest of the backchannel!

To cut a long story short, there were two of us in the room who were tweeting – a very elite backchannel, and we did enjoy a bit of sharing and networking. But there was none of the sharing of ideas, thoughts and resources from a wide range people that I have grown accustomed to. There was also nothing to challenge what was being said or provide a different point of view to that of the one person standing before us. Even the digital resources that we were told we could access once we got home were provided to us on a piece of paper. There was no interactivity, I wanted web 2.0 and I was in a read only world. By mid morning our presenter, who had been telling us of the importance of including IT all morning, actually provided a hashtag for us to use but by then my phone had gone flat making Twitter inaccessible and I was back to taking notes by myself on the iPad, all the while wondering “Where’s my backchannel?”

How to make a teacher feel old!

I originally shared this post on the CEGSA blog but as it is still an “ageing” problem that I am facing, I thought I would place it on my own blog too!

Floppy Disks

Photo Credit: Anita Hart via Compfight

I thought I would share this interesting anecdote from a discussion I had with one of my classes today which made me feel much older than my 36 years!

I have the privilege of working in ICT with all the students across my school -right down to our newest junior primary students. Today we were looking at some of the basics of word processing and towards the end of the lesson it came time to save their work. Without thinking I said “Click on the picture of the disk” and I was greeted with looks of curiosity.

“What’s a disk?”

These 5 and 6 year olds honestly had no idea what this strange icon was nor what its purpose had been way back in the dark depths of history.

My first thought from this was perhaps it is time for Microsoft to change their icon for saving, even the government’s Stay Smart Online Budd:e has a USB as their saving icon. However I was then led to think more seriously about all the changes I have seen in my time working with technology. I had another class truly boggled by the idea of using a camera which didn’t have a screen on the back which you could see your photos on, not to mention my own two year old who wondered why the digital photo frame wouldn’t change photos when she swiped her finger across it.

This reminiscing then led to awe and wonder about what changes these children, who are the same age as my own son, will see in their lives. The idea is truly beyond the scope of my imagination.

It really brings home the Dan Pink quote “We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past.”

Despite this though, I will be taking in some of these old fashioned things next week for a quick history lesson – I might even show them why floppy disks were called floppy!

Have you had a moment like this – that made you wonder at the marvels of technology and change that we see everyday?
Add a comment and share your stories here.

Stepping into my digital footprint

This was the slide that did it…

slide from George Couros’ opening keynote: CEGSA2012

This slide was about a third of the way through the opening keynote presentation of CEGSA2012. I had spent the previous few months hearing my friend and conference organiser Tina Photakis talk about how fantastic George Couros, our opening keynote was going to be and had wondered how Twitter and other  web 2.0 “toys” could possibly change my professional life very much.

I love dabbling in technology – I already had a twitter account and followed some interesting famous people. I had a facebook account and had mucked around with a class blog at one stage too. In short I felt comfortable in this online world and it was a fun place to be. I was looking forward to hearing what this George Couros had to say but didn’t know if it would change what I was doing all that much.

From the start of the keynote my perceptions were challenged about why I was using this technology and what I was getting from the online world and giving back to it. This slide in particular made me challenge my thinking about my online presence and how it could be not only a source of entertainment but also tool for professional growth and development.

This slide inspired me to take charge of my digital footprint. Up until now it had been scattered – a dabble here, a play there – crazy dance-steps all over the digital floor with  nothing really being used to greater potential. My first move was to gather together all that I had been toying with and decide which were the main tools I wanted to focus on. I decided, for now, upon the 5 big ones: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and a WordPress blog. I have since added Pinterest too as the visual nature of it appeals to my photographic senses!

I then had to learn some new tools. From my work with the CEGSA blog I was familiar enough with the basics of WordPress and the others were fine too except for Twitter. People seemed to be able to do so much more with it and watching George negotiate his way through columns in TweetDeck made me see that there was a lot more too it than just reading other people’s 140 characters! So along came a TweetDeck account and now 12 (and occasionally more) columns later I have a much greater regard for this as a wonderful tool and how I can use it to learn and share with others.

So here I am, after a few months of getting myself organised and deciding how I wanted to approach my footprint, I have now arrived at the start of my digital journey. My digital presence goes by the name of JAKnipe – JAK of all trades ( I still like dabbling in lots of things and always will). The information that is readily found about me is information I have put there and there are no eggs or cartoon avatars in sight!