Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Your Barista is on Twitter!

As you probably know, if you read my blog, I am a huge proponent of the educational value of Twitter. Lately, the excessive and often uninformed news coverage of Twitter is starting to get to me. Last Sunday's New York Times Magazine article, The Chatty Classes, just pushed me over the edge.

Matt Bai, who is not himself on Twitter, writes:
"The capital might be a better place if it became a Twitter-free zone, a city where people spent more time talking to the guy serving the coffee and less time informing the world that the coffee had, in fact, been served."

What people don't get is that Twitter is as much about listening, as it is about talking. We may not want to know how our politicians take their coffee, but it might help them to know if their constituents can't afford to buy a cup. Twitter is a tool with the potential to allow our representatives to plug in to the needs, thoughts, ideas and suggestions of their constituents - many of whom are in fact serving them coffee. Arggh!

OK rant over. Thanks for listening!
P.S. You can follow @Starbucks on Twitter

Image Source: Mosaic from Pedrovisky's photo stream on Flickr.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Prioritizing the Personal in PLN: Learning to be "Self-ish"

Last week I had my first ever speaking gig at the New and Emerging Technologies Conference at Noble & Greenough school. Tom Daccord and I shared the podium and talked about Building a Personal Learning Network. I have presented many workshops, but this was the first time I have ever spoken in front of a large audience. I was nervous and excited. I had a great time and I think it went pretty well. I thank Tom for asking me. He is very easy to work with and I feel like we shared the stage well.

The theme of my portion of the talk was the personal in PLN. I believe that we need to nurture our own personal learning as much as we nurture our students'. Rather than seeing this as selfish, we need to make more of an effort to be "self-ish" (imagine me saying this word with a slight New York accent ;).

If, god forbid, your plane were about to crash, they always tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first. It is impossible to help others if you are suffocating. We all need oxygen and our students can't benefit from our wisdom if we aren't constantly growing. So don't blow it off, breath it in!

David Warlick was the keynote speaker at the conference. I have met him a few times and he is such an interesting, inspirational and generous man. I appreciated his talk, "We need to stop integrating technology and start integrating literacy!" He also took the time to give me feedback on my talk and send me some of the pictures he took. Thanks David!

I recorded our talk and put the audio together with the slides. The audio isn't great, and the slides are a little bit cut off, but here is the link if you want to listen. My section starts at about 25 minutes in. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two For Tuesday 4/14/09

1. The 100 Most Iconic Internet Videos
Thanks to Alec Couros for sharing this one! Not only does this website list what they consider to be the top 100 Internet videos of all time, they also give you the history behind each clip. "These are the clips that are etched into our memories, made us laugh, influenced the future of internet video, or changed it altogether."

2. FamDing - A Private Social Network for your Family
FamDing allows you to create a private social network just for your family. You can share messages, photos and important dates. You can keep track of birthdays and create a centralized address book. You can even hold a 4 person video conference.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Twitter Love Story

This analogy came to me last night and I couldn't resist telling the story. It is meant as a joke, but isn't there a little bit of truth to all jokes. Do you see yourself in Suzie's story? I have to admit that I do. Enjoy.

The following is a dramatization - names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Suzie remembers when she first met Twitter. Everyone told her she had to go out with him, he was perfect for her. Suzie was skeptical, but she agreed to go on one date. They met for coffee, they talked a little, but there were no sparks. Suzie went home not sure what everyone talking about. She went on with her life and didn't see Twitter again for quite a while.

A few months later at a party, Suzie saw Twitter across the room. He was surrounded by people. They were all talking to him, fawning over him. She still didn't get what the big deal was, but she decided to walk over and say hello. Twitter remembered her from their date and she and T started talking. They had a decent conversation. At the end of the party T asked Suzie for another date, and Suzie agreed to meet him.

T and Suzie met at a nice restaurant, it was busy, but not too loud. They started talking and Suzie found not only was T really easy to talk to, he was also a good listener. On their second date Suzie started to open up to T, she started to share a bit more of her self. She asked questions and was surprised to find T pretty knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects. Suzie could feel herself falling for him, but she still kept her heart in check.

Over time, Suzie fell deeper and deeper. After several dates, long conversations, and an occasional time when T pulled her out of a jam, she was hooked. Suzie was in love. She was infatuated. She became a bit obsessed. She checked in with T all the time, from her phone, from work, from home. She couldn't wait to see what T had to say. Did he leave her a special message? Did he have the answer to something she just couldn't figure out?

She was in love, but it was also affecting her other friendships. Her friends just didn't get why she was so in to him. She tried to explain, but they teased her about him. A few of her friends took the time to get know him, many didn't. Suzie was ok with that.

More time passed and Suzie fell in to a comfortable relationship with Twitter. She learned how to get the most out of her time with him. She began to feel she could trust him, to know that he would be there for her if she needed him. The intensity of her feelings subsided and a feeling of calm took its place.

Today Suzie and Twitter are still together. Their relationship has deepened and grown. She enjoys her time with him, but has learned how to balance it with the other relationships in her life. She can't remember her life before she met him. She is looking forward to seeing how their relationship will change over time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How has your Professional Learning Network Changed you?

Recently I asked the question on Twitter: How would you describe your life before you had a PLN? I remember when I felt alone in my classroom. What do you remember?

32 people in my network responded (Thanks!). I collected the results into two Wordles (scroll down to see the original responses). I see a theme of isolation before and connection now.

What do you see?

The original responses:

mwackermwacker@lizbdavis Before PLN...connections and collaboration slow moving and less productive
Susan Carter Morganscmorgan@lizbdavis My life before PLN? Not as rich. More structured in class. Not as much fun!
Keisa Williamsmonarchlibrary@lizbdavis Before I my PLN, I never imagined that my K-5 students could have a global audience & the impact it would have on their work.
classroomqueenclassroomqueen@lizbdavis Not sure how I operated w/o colleagues around the globe. Now I have people to vent to, ask questions & receive help from.
Dennis Armsarmsd@lizbdavis I feel validated by my PLN, I love having other people with the same passions...it makes me feel good
Karen Chichesterkchichester@lizbdavis Before my PLN I was alone and burned out. I lacked the enthusiasm needed to teach. My PLN has reinvigorated my teaching.
Chuck Hollandchuckholland@lizbdavis My life pre-PLN Isolated.
Bud TalbotBud_T@lizbdavis before twitter, my learning experiences were more one dimensional
Scott Meechsmeech@lizbdavis ... before PLN ... sounds like before AD ... I think unique in many ways and that I am not very unique in my thinking after all.
mkm420fritzmkm420fritz@lizbdavis stay at home mom and college professor at night - don't know how i learned anything before- learn tons from my PLN everyday!
Carey Pohankacapohanka@lizbdavis I remember always feeling like there was more out there going on and I was missing out. Just didn't know what it was.
Francie digiduchess@lizbdavis You asked how we felt before PLN and I would have to say like an outsider,out of step, lost & alone. Surprised the difference.
cehyde9cehyde9@lizbdavis CRAZY...I was just thinking about how many unbelievable resources and information I get from my PLN! Amazing!
Chris Webbcwebbtech@lizbdavis Life before my Twitter PLN was cold and lonely. I often felt behind the times. Now I feel challenged and empowered! :-)
Valerievbek@lizbdavis support, information + get from good to great 'cause forced to make meaning with other people
Nelly Cardinalenycrican2RT: @lizbdavis: How would you describe your life before you had a PLN? I remember when I felt alone in my classroom. What do you remember?
✜ Stephen Ransomransomtech@lizbdavis I'm going to share that with my students who R struggling with the need 4 a PLN
MagistraMMagistraM@lizbdavis As a Latin teacher, it is unusual to have even one colleague in a district. My PLN connects me with others globally
MagistraMMagistraM@lizbdavis pre-PLN was isolating. Couldn't get feedback and ideas to expand my plans - or for my own learning.
jtroutnerjtroutner@lizbdavis-Lonely, my point of view only--now I can look at things from such a wide range of POVs Great growth tool!
msstewartmsstewart@lizbdavis I remember getting stuff done ;) altho I'd never go back
Jen Wagnerjenwagner@lizbdavis I remember the feeling of "am I weird", I was seen as a fanatic & geekie. But I have always marched to my own drummer
Kathy Risolvokrisolvo@lizbdavis before PLN, I didn't feel as connected to the future. I felt like I was always catching on a little late.
Julie Lindsayjulielindsay@lizbdavis B-PLN I made decisions in isolation based on limited knowledge of the world, now I have support and informed advisors globally
Heidi Van Riperhlvanrip@lizbdavis felt stagnant and helpless! I wasn't sure how to learn what I knew I needed to. Now it is always right there. Now always growing!
Bill Graziadei, PhDwgraziadei@lizbdavis can't ever imagine being alone in classroom but it does get better like a good bottle of wine aging :-)
Lee-Anne Pattersonlpatterson@lizbdavis feeling lost and wondering who to ask. Have always taught in isolated places so PLN tools like twitter make it for me
Bill CampbellBillCamp@lizbdavis pre-PLN: Often only aware of issues I should be thinking about the few rare times I attended conf/mtg not at my school.
Karen JanowskiKarenJan@lizbdavis I remember when I had more time....
Nelly Cardinalenycrican2@lizbdavis Before Twitter, I looked at every day as just another teaching day for me, now I look at every day as a new learning opportunity.
Mikefisher1000@lizbdavis It's like thinking of life before our daughter...can't really remember what it was like. Or what I used to do with my free time!
Lisa Thumannlthumann@lizbdavis Isolating and pretty much time starting everything from a blank white slate
Jason Ramsdenraventech@lizbdavis Before my PLN....I did not know as many people or learn as much as I can today. Shoot. I was a mere shadow of my current self.