Twitter and me…

It was some time in 2007 when I attended an IT conference at the Singapore American School. I attended a workshop on… well I can’t remember the topic either. What I do remember is that a wonderful promoter of technology in education, Kim Cofino (@mscofino) ran the workshop and this is when she introduced me, and the rest of the audience, to tools such as Twitter.

According to ‘When Did You Join Twitter’ I signed up on the 30th January 2008. My first reaction, even after seeing how Kim had used it, was ‘This is stupid! Why would anyone want to know what I am doing?’ So, I left it. My account sat there, untouched, for over a year. In which time I had started networking with educators in ways that made more sense to me at the time – via websites and forums such as Classroom2.0. This worked for me. I learned a lot from the thousands of educators online and I was even able to give advice to many.

I’m not sure what it was that sparked my interest in Twitter again, but I thought I’d try again. I logged in and started searching for people I knew. Again, @mscofino came into the picture. After a while of following a handful of people, I needed more, so I emailed Kim to ask some advice. Her reply…

Hi Ben,

So glad to hear you’ve started building your personal learning network! I’m sure you will find it invaluable to your professional practice!

The presentation I gave at SAS is all online here: http://21stcenturyeducator.wikispaces.com/

It has tons of resources and links for how to get started. Also, I would recommend connecting yourself with fellow international school Twitterers, have you seen this list: http://mscofino.edublogs.org/2009/01/24/international-school-teachers-roundup/

In the end, it will be your personal connections that make your network. But commenting on blog posts, responding to Tweets, and participating in social networks like Ning are the way to get started!

Please add yourself to my spreadsheet (linked within the post above) if you haven’t already 🙂

I hope that helps!

Kim

I took her advice and quickly began to build up a larger network. I also used methods such as looking through the list the people I was following were following (ie. go to the twitter page of a person you are following, then click on ‘following’ to see all the people they’re follwing). Pretty quickly I had a good sized group of educators from whom I was learning and also giving some advice. This continues to grow daily as I follow people referred to in tweets and when other educators actually follow me 🙂

But it’s not just educators who I follow now. I have great pleasure in learning from, staying up-to-date from or being inspired from…

NEWS STATIONS

@SGnews and @SBSNews are a couple of news agencies that I follow and have stayed ahead of the regular news. For example, I was able to keep on top of the recent riots in Bangkok and I heard about the Swine Flu on Twitter before any other news form.

LEARN FROM

@EcoInteractive, @Oxfam, @GreenITers, @Greenpeace_Intl, @Greenpeaceafric and @LWFIndia are just a few organisations that I follow and learn from.

BE INSPIRED

I have developed quite an extensive list of inspirational quotes from @larryczerwonka.

COMPANIES

I am also able to keep up-to-date with what some of my favourite companies are doing. The most useful of all, because I use Google Apps in my classroom, are @GoogleAppsEdu, @GoogleAtWork, @googlemaps and @google.

So where am I at now? I use Nambu to stay in touch with all of my followers and the people I follow. I wake in the morning and I have at least 200 tweets to read, from which I almost always get a handful of useful links, web tools or interesting bits of information. Throughout the day, the tweets keep coming, with yet more links etc. It’s become a huge part of my work day – another commitment on top of the many already in the average day of an International School Teacher. But it’s one that I am happy to take the time for because it truly enhances me as a teacher and me as a person.

BTW, I am @bgrundy.

To Facebook or not to Facebook…

It seems that signing up to Facebook has become a new stage of puberty these days. Once kids reach a certain age, they have a Facebook account – simple as that!

My dilemma as a grade 5 teacher is whether I should be finding a platform to be teaching kids responsible and effective usage of social networking sites such as Facebook. There are many who argue that kids of 10 and 11 shouldn’t be exposed to social networking (among other Internet tools) yet because of the potential dangers that linger in cyberspace. Then there are those who argue that we as educators should be pre-emptive in our educating by teaching kids the correct behaviours and how to keep themselves safe online before they start experimenting by themselves.

In writing this post, I am essentially after feedback. Who of you out there use social networking within your class? What age group are your students? What are the benefits of social networking in school? What are the disadvantages? What problems have you come across? What platform (Facebook, Ning, etc) do you use?

For those of you who have made a conscious decision not to use social networking in your class, please tell me about your reasons and thinking for this decision.

Any and all feedback is welcomed and I ask you to please forward this post on to anyone who you think may be able to contribute to the discussion.