Byte-sized Potential: Can Compassion & Citizenship Go Viral?

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 4.44.59 PMPart of the category, Byte-sized Potential

The number one benefit of educational technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential. – Steve Ballmer

A thousand years ago, books were accessible to a select few. Often, you needed to be part of a certain social class, ethnicity, and profession. Knowledge was not available to the majority of the world. I feel incredibly blessed to live at a time when technological developments continue to strive to provide access to the entire world. The most powerful learning and communication tools are in the hands of millions worldwide. Individuals can take classes from MIT professors or connect with the greatest minds, like Neil Degrasse Tyson, through social media.

Byte-sized Potential

In addition to having access to incredible learning, we have the potential to impact the world through social media. Each tweet, Instagram image, Vine/Youtube video, and status update has the potential to go viral. It will be shared. It will spread. If our messages and digital behavior have an audience, then we need to make them matter. What will our students do with this potential? We need to get our students to realize their byte-size potential and feel the weight of this potential. They need to realize the responsibilities that come with their digital actions and also realize they are privileged to live in a world of access where they can truly pursue their passions and make a meaningful impact.

What are learners currently doing with their access? 

Anyone, anywhere in the world has the potential to be viral. They can be the next Idol, X-Factor, Youtuber, Viner, Meme, gif, trend, or hashtag. Kids and teens already use their access to impact millions with the messages they spread. They have the power to incite their followers to action. For example, the most popular Viner is 16 year-old, Nash Grier, with over 7 million followers.

The education system has failed them. Even now as they craft their next 6-second video, tweet, snap, post, status update, hashtag, and meme they won’t carry the weight or compassion of their privilege and position to be the first generation able to create viral action and messages. The movements they incite have the potential to heal, inspire, or destroy people. We will feel this as another cyberbullying incident or sexting scandal arises. Teachers have the ability to change these behaviors by teaching citizenship daily. We can inspire our students daily to publish, post, and spread in meaningful ways.

Join my movement with these free resources

I realize many teachers face barriers when teaching citizenship. They may not be allowed to teach with technology, have proper training, lack a digital literacy and citizenship curriculum, and be short on time. My goal this year is to help teachers inspire their learners to make their digital behavior matter. Currently, I am working on a book with 50 ways to get our students to spread compassion, caring, and kindness on the web. The book is based on Ed Lorenz’s Butterfly Effect and also my 30 Goals Challenge for Educators experience. Right now I’m sharing these ideas in various ways. Find them in my recent Reinvent the Classroom Keynote: Byte-Size Potential. Below are the slides to download and a Youtube video of the keynote. You can also access the recent Twitter Chat transcript for the #Edtechchat I hosted, which is full of resources from over 400 teachers. I also have created a new category on this blog, Byte-sized Potential, full of ideas on how to get our students using their access responsibly. You will find free digital citizenship and literacy resources as well as ideas like teaching with Vine, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Will you join me this year in getting our students to help spread compassion and citizenship?

Video Recording of the Keynote

Edtechchat Transcript
Special thanks to all #Edtechchat moderators and participants for a lively conversation this past Monday, May 5th. Join #Edtechchat every Monday at 8pmET.


Join me in giving our students the mission to spread compassion and citizenship.

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Social in Media in Education! It’s Time Has Come

3rd post in a new series: PLN Tips 4 Teachers

digi citizenship

I read this heartbreaking post from kindergarten teacher, Matt Gomez, today, The End of Facebook in My Class, and I was saddened that yet another battle has been lost between a teacher trying to help support students in the kind of learning that will help them in life because school policy got in the way. I’m tired that “learning” has been reduced to an institution, profit making industry, and a bunch of bad policies worldwide.  And I am sickened to know that we as a society have allowed this to happen. But we can speak up now and try to change the system through social media. Social media gives us a voice and I am proof as also many others who use social media in education are that we can spread the message of what great learning is and try to change policy.

In order to do this we need to help people get over their fears. Systems control us because they feed on our fears. Policy has been allowed to ban and block sites and the use of various technologies, because we fear students will access them, post terrible things, and it will have detrimental repercussions. Let me tell you that this fear has already happened. 1000s of students have even committed suicide due to cyberbullying and sexting and guess what they didn’t access social media at school, they did this at home with only their peers to guide them and talk to them. Kids can’t come to us with these problems, which is sad because now social media is embedded in our lives and society.

We don’t teach students how to make positive footprints and how to handle sticky situations in social media because we fear that in schools they will make mistakes. That’s learning. Learning is making mistakes and having a guide to help you along the way correct those mistakes so that when you are alone and have to make the decision you make a much better one.

We miss so many magical teaching moments because the majority of policy bans us from guiding our learners to a better path with their social media use once they make mistakes.

How can you help?

Spread your examples of how you use social media in education. Get the word out and get people excited and try to alleviate their fears. I spend a lot of time in the media talking about the issue and I will continue to spread the word out through social media and my travels. I hope to reference the following great examples of social media use with learners. I’m including the great work Matt Gomez did using Facebook with his kindergarten class. I will miss reading about that great learning that took place with this initiative and can only hope that one day I will live in a world where learning isn’t controlled and schools really prepare kids for their lives in the real world.

You may want to also visit a post George Couros wrote in response to Matt Gomez’s post, The Power to Kill Innovation.

Great Examples of Social Media in Education

These posts are in no particular order:

Why I Am Using Facebook in the Class Again This Year by Matt Gomez


CSI Twitter- Crime Scene Investigation by Langwitches, Silvia Tolisano


Integrating Language and Science by Aviva Dunsiger

Teaching with Twitter in the Classroom by Shelly Blake Plock

Teaching Digital Citizenship Using Twitter and Lord of the Flies

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#Edchat Summary: Social Media’s Impact on Professional Development for Educators by @USCTeacher

Guest post from @USCTeacher in the #Edchat Category & other 12noon NYC summaries found on Berni Wall’s blog!

Today’s #edchat topic, What effect has social media (SM) had in your development as an educator? Is SM for every educator?, was intriguing. The topic pulled in both personal reflection for participators to think about their usage of social media as an educator as well as think about social media globally as a part of their profession. What was also great about this topic is that it made participators think not only about their usage of social media, but their colleagues, giving them a broader perspective on social media in general and in the education world. Personally, social media has changed my world in regards to professional development and building a PLN – I’ve been able to connect with educators all over the world as well as watch students in the program I work for (the MAT@USC) connect and share across oceans. Social media might not be for everyone in the “first person” sense, but at a minimal, is necessary to use and develop with colleagues.

At a future #Edchat I’d be interested in discussing, How can we encourage using SM in higher-ed? — Are there benefits?

Main Themes of the Chat

  •  Social medial allows professional development amongst educators
  •  Professional development has become global and personal thanks to social media
  •  Twitter can be used as a springboard to other things – depth, collaboration, projects
  • Social media may not be for every educator, but it effects all educators
  • Teaching both students and teachers how to use social media will help us learn
  • Social media must be taught by doing

Thought-Provoking Comments

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that inspired me and made me reflect.

1. @tomwhitby: How can we hold kids responsible for misusing SM when we refuse to teach it to them responsibly? #Edchat
2. @monicaannebatac: YES! Safe, responsible use of SM is necessary from teachers and students alike #edchat
3. @drdouggreen: You convince others what they are missing by having them sit next to you during an edchat. #edchat
4. @davidwees: SM is a tool WE can define edu reform & transform #edchat
5. @CTuckerEnglish: SM can be overwhelming 4 new user. Trick is to start slow. Find a tool that works & appreciate benefits then branch out #edchat
6. @jessievaz12: I love SM because it has awakened my passion in my prof. It makes me want 2B more progressive & find something to share w others #edchat
7. @MrMatthewRay: The world has changed rapidly – education has not. It must. SM is huge component. #edchat
8. @isteconnects: All educators should have basic understanding of social media. It’s ignorance that breeds fear of the tools #edchat
9. @teewhyare: that’s exactly what social media is intended to be: one large classroom w/ no tuition. This is my playground and class. #edchat
10. @davidwees: What would happen if every school was connected by at least 1 person through social media to every other school? #edchat
11. @courosa: i don’t know if SocMed is that which is unforgiving – it’s ppl that are. SocMed just exposes our raw humanity. #edchat
12. @timbuckteeth: we teach kids to cross street safely, must do same with SM – they’ll be using it anyway. #edchat
13. @inquirebook: I like the immediacy of Twitter. I get my breaking education news here. #edchat
14. @cybraryman1: I love the fact that when I do not know something there is always someone in my PLN who has the answer. #edchat

To follow the complete discussion visit the transcript here!

More Resources

As ever, there were some great links shared:

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 3000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.

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What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!


Sarah Fudin currently works as a community manager for the University of Southern California’s Master of Arts in Teaching program, which provides aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn a Master’s degree and teaching credential online. Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.

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Why Not Use Social Networks? by Joel Josephson

by Guest Author, Joel Josephson

Why Not Use Social Networks?

Educators that are not using Facebook often use the arguments that they are concerned for their:

  1. Privacy
  2. Time

Although there are other arguments used I will try to answer these two in this article.


At the root of Social networks is the personalisation of your online character through your contributions to the networks. This can be restricted to your professional character but your personal character, your private life, can be kept separately off the network.

I would strongly recommend using your real identity on the networks. To gain the maximum benefit professionally other users need to see who and what you do, and evaluate you as a worthy, professional friend. They need to see the synergies with their own professional area. It must be remembered that these are personal networks, and limiting your exposure as a business or institution limits the personalisation of your involvement.

On Facebook I place all my contacts in to Friend lists, (I have about 30 now). These can be broadly categorized by:

  • Professional
  • Family & Friends
  • Social Game players (I own up, I play games, although this, of course is about my research in to the use of games in education … cough cough)

Using the ‘Custom’ privacy settings Facebook allows me to select which list of friends I permit to view all the various areas of information about me, including posting to my wall. So Family see/do everything. Some Professional, for example, do not see photos of my children. Game players see nothing at all.

It does take some effort to set up the groups and privacy settings but once they are done, you don’t have to think about it again. When you ‘Add a new friend’ you just assign the person to one of your lists. As an additional measure I do look at the privacy settings periodically to see if Facebook have changed anything.


Social networking has saved me years of work. I will repeat that: Social networking has saved me years of work

What I gain in information and understanding, arguments and knowledge have infinitely expanded on core areas of my professional life and led me to new ideas, better, smarter ways of doing things and a group of people that I can always turn to for answers.

The web tools that I have been led to by my network have infinitely raised the quality and effectiveness of my work and the information flow takes me in directions and synergies that could only be achieved through weeks of effort.

So are SNs time consuming or wasteful? Everything can be diverting, TV, newspapers, radio, books it is all better then sitting working (sometimes).

We bring discipline to our work, or we would not be were we are, and we bring the same discipline to our use of Social Networks. We control the time we spend on them by evaluating the importance of the information or network and its value to our work. We know when we are wasting time and when we are being productive and it is exactly the same when using a social network.

Of course, when you first create a public profile on Facebook all the friends and acquaintances that you have made over the years will come knocking on the door, wanting to ‘Friend’ you. I have found that after a very short while and you have caught up, this reduces to the very occasional trickle. You can also control the flow using the privacy controls described above.


In my opinion, the advantages of being ‘personally’ involved far outweigh any negatives. There is nothing to fear on a privacy level or time. So take the plunge, the water is warm, mainly clean and you get to swim with some of the most interesting and uplifting professionals on the planet.

Of course the aPLaNet EuropeAN project,, and aPLaNet Ning community,, will be providing answers and practical help on how to build your own personal network for your professional development. If you are an experienced user of the networks and have your own PLN then we also invite you to become an aPLaNet mentor (join the Ning).

Joel Josephson is the initiator/partner in 17 innovative European language projects. Joel is well known for his exciting and effective approaches to motivate language learners. Joel runs the EU_Educators Facebook group, that is sharing EU projects globally. He also founded the Kindersite Project early learning website, one of the first effective sites for schools. Formerly involved in high tech at the start of the Internet, he had 2 successful start-ups and consulted to technology companies. He has brought his understanding of technology into education by initiating many interesting projects with innovative uses of ICT. His Twitter handle is @acerview54.

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What are your favorite ways to learn online? Did I miss any other great professional development opportunities?

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What Did They Tweet?

July 2010 edition of the What Did They Tweet series!

Let’s see what our Personal Learning Network (PLN) tweeted about in education and social media these past two weeks.


“Clay Shirky: How cognitive surplus will change the world | Video on”

Just uploaded ‘Towards Open & Connected Learning’ to SlideShare.

The Most Life-Affirming TED Talk of All, For Some: LEGO For Grownups [Ted] #gizmodo

Here’s a sneak preview of my Digital Tribes slideset: #alctmu

New Live Binder: Evidence of Learning 2.0 Still adding to this, but much to share already!

@ShellTerrell Any ideas for my Wallwisher page? Use my Wallwisher to add any. Getting creative in my old age!

Mike’s & others’ curated apps lists from #ISTE10

100 Inspiring Ways to Use Social Media In the Classroom

Opportunities for Educators

Below is a list of great opportunities for free resources and more:

  • Have your high school students participate in the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge to win a $50,000 scholarship and $5000 teacher grant! Details here! Tweeted by @DEN. This contest begins August 17, 2010 and ends March 15, 2011.
  • Qwizdom “How Do You Q?” Contest Offers $12,000+ in Technology Prizes! More details here!
  • Be a published by The Guardian! They want educator stories! More info here!
  • Be a Guest Writer for!

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For more tweets, check out these posts:


Share one of these resources with another educator not on Twitter. Then tell them you got the tip from educators on Twitter!

What was your favorite resource on Twitter this week?

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