Two: The Power of Educators on Social Networks

Plymouth Keynote
By foto_mania, Flickr

On April 8th I celebrated my two year Twitter birthday. 100s of members of my Personal/ Passionate Learning Network (PLN) joined me in the celebration online and face-to-face as I gave my Keynote, Wings & Webs: Education Transformation and Social Media, which I’ve included a shortened version below. This was one of 14 presentations I gave in the last 30 days while traveling throughout Turkey, Germany, and the UK meeting 100s of members of my PLN. This will explain my 4 week absence on this blog.

Plymouth was an incredible experience for me. This was the first conference I had presented at in which the majority of the audience were tekkies, had smart phones and netbooks or iPads, had Twitter accounts, and the venue itself had a strong wifi connection. The backchannel was roaring as I gave my keynote livestreamed to my friends on Twitter. And yes, I do refer to several members of my Personal/ Passionate Learning Network as friends even though I have over 12,000 I connect and often collaborate with. I am one of those people who preaches about Twitter and the way it has changed my life so profoundly in just 2 years.

It’s About the Tool

How odd that so many of us will preach, “It’s about the tool,” when we preach that schools and teachers should integrate technology. In the next moment many who say this also speak/blog vehemently against social networks like Twitter and Facebook. I have read many of these posts in the last year and have also heard speakers at the conferences I’ve attended speak against these tools. In some cases they try to encourage other educators to believe these networks are evil and that their feelings of warmth for their PLN are something to be ashamed of or that it is a superficial feeling. I want to clarify now that social media has profoundly improved my experience as an educator. I am a better educator because my PLN has supported, challenged, and collaborated with and shared with me. They have infected me with their passion to be better at my profession. Thank you, friends!

How Do You Use These Tools?

Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are tools and I know that I have used these tools effectively to collaborate and connect with teachers worldwide. That is my choice. Perhaps, those who scream against these tools are really not that social? Perhaps, they haven’t figured out how to use social media tools effectively? Okay, I understand we are individuals and make choices but why do they have to blame the tool? I use social media tools to share a human experience of reaching out to others and make meaningful connections. I have been able in the last two years to do amazing things I would have never been able to do as effectively without these tools, which include:

  • Provide free professional development and resources to 10,000s of educators worldwide in over 150 countries
  • Provide a free curriculum to an educator in Nepal who I also Skype with
  • Travel to 16 countries spending quality time with friends from all over the globe including Turkey, Greece, the UK, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Poland, France, the US, Brussels, Brazil, Japan, and so forth
  • Eat fish and chips with friends I met online on the beach
  • Take roadtrips with friends I met online throughout Poland, Belgium, France, and Amsterdam
  • Provide free weekly webinars to teachers in Iran, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Peru, and other countries where resources and professional development are scarce

I have an overwhelming amount of stories I could share. Everyday I wake up I feel blessed to be part of such an amazing field where we make a profound difference in the world. I guess the reason I feel so passionate about social media is that I come from humble Mexican American beginnings. I am part of the first generation in my family to graduate from college and I have been blessed to travel more than anyone else in my family for generations. I explain more about this in my keynote below.

Social Media Transforms Our Conference Experiences

Social media has transformed my conference experience. I now attend more conferences because I want to hang out with members of my PLN. Before social media, most of the educators that attended conferences weren’t connected to many people attending the conference. This was my reality and I remember experiencing this “alone” feeling. I would get lost among the crowd and feel even more alone. I stopped going to conferences a decade ago because I was sick and tired of the protocols of shaking people’s hands and giving them a mini interview stating why they should want to know me. That’s a conference, though, for educators not on social media. Social media has revolutionized the conference experience. I meet people at conferences and I feel I know them and they know me. They know about my pug, my preference for Coke 0, and much more. We hug at first glance and we spend quality time enjoying the talks and events. We “experience” the conference. I attend way more conferences worldwide as a result of my online connections and I leave feeling I have grown because of the conference and the people I learned from and connected with on a real level. How do you approach that first meet and greet and get to the point where you can just be comfortable enjoying each other’s company? When does a conference become an experience versus an uncomfortable way to just network? Simply, social media. It takes away the leg work.

Power through Social Networks

Sometimes, the connections I make on social networks are to parents, learners, politicians, authors, other teachers, or administrators. We more than connect. We have conversations of what education transformation should be. I have the ability to show these various stakeholders what effective learning looks like. I have the ability to disprove their notions that what matters most is a learner’s test scores or grades. I have the ability to persuade them that mobile learning is a way for students to get outside the walls of their classroom and be active, interacting in a meaningful way with their environments. I believe educator messages about education transformation should go viral in order to transform the way most education systems are worldwide. I shared this in my keynote. Social media is a powerful way to spread these messages. So to the naysayers I say sorry I’m not quitting. I have a world that needs changing and educators collaborating on social media are on a mission to positively impact their learning environments. Social networks may transform decades from now but the worldwide collaboration and human connection educators participate in daily on these networks won’t ever die.

My Plymouth Keynote

Challenge:

Share your story why you believe educators should be active on social networks.

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Connect To The World Through Twitter (Presentation)

Recently, I gave a Keynote for educators new to developing a learning network through Twitter. Please share the following resources with those new to Twitter in order to encourage them to join our passionate educator community. This PRESTO presentation is an updated version of my previous one, How to Build A PLN Using Twitter.

In order to be cutting edge and stay relevant in any career field, we need a Personal Learning Network (PLN)! A PLN consists of individuals who we choose to take part in our professional development. These individuals share resources, exchange ideas with us, offer support, and collaborate with us. Twitter is one of the quickest ways to establish a PLN. However, many educators new to Twitter may not understand how the process works. In the beginning, I used to only update then I discovered how to engage with others in order to build a strong PLN.

Do you have 3 minutes, 20 seconds?

You probably do not have the time to read all the Twitter materials available, but do you have 3 minutes and 20 seconds? In the PRESTO below, I share with you how to connect with educators worldwide using Twitter. A PRESTO, PRESent your TOpic, is a video presentation style created by Heike Philp. The speaker creates a PowerPoint of 10 slides that auto-advance every 20 seconds.

More Resources

by Oliver Widder, Geek and Poke, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 License
by Oliver Widder, Geek and Poke, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 License

Help other educators new to Twitter by sharing these resources through your presentations or workshops:

Challenge:
Share these tools with educators in your school! I’m sure they have 3 minutes and 20 seconds!

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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 this week.

Tweets


I favorited a YouTube video — Seth Godin on how schools teach kids to aim low http://youtu.be/e5ywUhs1Pn4?a


Hey PLN: Reminder… Ed Open Mic night this Thursday 7PM EST in Elluminate: http://ht.ly/2aOn7 #edopenmic


StoryKit app let’s kids edit classic bks, add narration & share new stories online http://bit.ly/dzJRNr


My first Prezi! If You Give a Teacher Twitter http://prezi.com/p6hzuqbh2exz/if-you-give-a-teacher-twitter/


Pagemodo: Design a #Facebook page for FREE http://bit.ly/9W4O0o


Prezi I created for using Google Docs: http://bit.ly/9obWWg


I favorited a YouTube video — InfoWhelm and Information Fluency http://youtu.be/7ECAVxbfsfc?a


30 Posts About Free Education Technology Tools & Resources http://bit.ly/bCs05k #edtech

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 TEFL.net!

If you enjoy this series, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

For more tweets, check out these posts:

Challenge:

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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Tips and Tools to Manage Your Twitter Time!

Part of the Cool Sites series

Cartoon by Brad Fitzpatrick

Photo from Brad Fitzpatrick a great flash animator and cartoonist!

Do your friends or partner accuse you of being a Twitterholic? Do you fear you spend too much time on Twitter? Daily people ask me how I manage to have a life and spend so much time on Twitter. It is true that you will see me tweet daily. I don’t skip a day. I love Twitter but at one point I had to curtail my Twitter time so I could get more accomplished. Social media networks are part of my daily routine, especially Twitter and they have helped me grow immensely professionally! I love to be connected but I had to find my comfort level. I think the time is not so crucial as finding your comfort level. When being on Twitter, Facebook, or whatever social media tool you use becomes stressful and it loses the fun then I recommend you take a break. However, we no longer have to get to that point. Here are some helpful tips that have helped me:

  • Define your purpose!
    • I love socializing but I know that I use my social media networks to collaborate and connect with my educator community. Each day I think about why I am using the tool and aim to accomplish this and not get off task. Sometimes, I do get on Twitter to relieve stress or get distracted from a stressful task. Other days I want to find a resource. If I define what I’m doing this helps me manage my time effectively.
  • Be realistic!
    • How much time can you spend? You know how much you have to accomplish in a day so be realistic about how much time you can spend on these networks.
  • Stick to the plan!
    • If you have set aside 30 minutes to be on your favorite social network then stick to that plan. Remember you are avoiding getting burnt out. I like to put myself on a timer because the sound of the alarm reminds me it’s time to quit!
  • Reflect on the time spent!
    • Think about what you accomplished and see if it was what you intended on accomplishing. It’s okay to decide you want to socialize and do this, but if that is not your purpose then this becomes a problem. If you reflect on your time spent, you will become more focus.
  • Be accountable to yourself!
    • People often get upset at the tool, when they are really upset at themselves for not having the will power to be accountable. Is it better to quit the tool or learn will power? I prefer learning will power, because this builds character and personal strength. Plus, I meet too many bitter people who were burnt out by the tool and try to judge others on their time spent online.

Use a Browser! Tweetdeck!

  • Tweetdeck- I love the several options to save you time in the free browser, Tweetdeck! However, you may not realize you can automatically set-up these features! These include the following:
    • You can add more than one account to Tweetdeck such as your LinkedIn or Facebook account. Click on the ones you want to update your status on and they will be highlighted. A separate column will show you the updates in these accounts. Choose which to be your default browser to change the account.
    • By clicking on the person’s profile picture you have several more options, such as replying to all members in a tweet, favoriting the tweet, blocking them and more!
    • You can add to your settings to automatically tweet with a hashtag or include hashtags when you reply to a person.
    • You can automatically shorten links, upload videos and images by dragging and dropping them into the status bar at the top.
    • If you get the small screen notifications then you can reply quickly by clicking those tiny windows. In the settings, you can set them not to show up.
    • With the newest version you can set tweets to tweet later! If you know you will be somewhere with no wifi you can still participate in a discussion or tweet resources!

Helpful Tools & Resources!

  • Twitterfeed- I have several blogs that I read daily that provide me with some of the best resources consistently. For me it is a no-brainer to automatically tweet these links when they are published. Having to copy and paste each one takes time so I use this free service that does this automatically for me. Sometimes I’m not on Twitter but this ensures I get some great resources to you. When I am traveling this service makes sure I don’t miss a Twitter day helping out my PLN! Anything with an RSS feed can be tweeted using this service. Watch this video tutorial for general tips. This video tutorial shows you how to tweet Google Alerts.
  • RSS Flash G- There is a free version but I have the paid version. I use this Iphone app to tweet my Google Reader links, save them to Delicious, upload them to Instapaper, and more! I just love using this app and it saves me so much time! Watch this video tutorial!
  • EchoFon- There is a free version for your IPhone or IPad. It is a free browser with many features and a nice interface. Watch this video tutorial!
  • Packrati- This free service automatically saves your tweeted links and favorite links to Delicious! You can even choose the tags!
  • Co-Tweet- This free service helps you have many people tweet to one account. This is particularly helpful if you tweet for a group or company.
  • Remember that in many social networks you can go to the settings and automatically tweet links! This works on Youtube, Flickr, BlipFm, and more!
  • Many people who follow you are in different timezones, therefore, retweeting a previous link you tweeted is absolutely okay as long as it is not all you tweet! I often retweet my previous links throughout the day and word them a bit differently. Using Tweetdeck or Echofon I just click on the tweet and click retweet then quickly edit. Or you can set-up Tweetdeck to post the same tweet at a later date!
  • For more tips on how to help with social media burnout, please read Nicky Hockly’s great post, Not Waving but Drowning!

Challenge:

Try managing your Twitter time with these tips and tools!

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

How do you prevent social media burnout?


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What Did They Tweet?

Last Week of June 2010 edition of the What Did They Tweet weekly series!

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

Tweets


Retweeting @stevehargadon: Ways to participate remotely if you can’t attend #ISTE10 in person: http://tinyurl.com/39ur258 #yam


@ShellTerrell @mrspal If you liked the vid w/ Nick Vujicic, you have to check out his short film “The Butterfly Circus” http://bit.ly/PqejQ


Why I Returned My iPad – Harvard Business Review “Being bored is a precious thing, a state of mind we should pursue.” http://bit.ly/biCTjp


Here is a jeopardy prezi. change out the questions and answers as needed. http://ow.ly/21uKT #edchat #edtech


I was just wondering about this RT @jackiegerstein: #ISTE10 Daily Twitter Newpaper – Sunday, June 20 http://bit.ly/cTpdbk


“How to embed a Google (Docs) Form in #Moodle” (video) by the wonderful @howen http://bit.ly/dslkCs


@ShellTerrell @mike08 add “pwn” b4 youtube.com in url. great way to covert to mp3. ex: w w w .pwnyoutube.com/videoURL (use dirpy) #edtech


Very cool service. http://packrati.us Automatically bookmark tweeted URLs #edchat #edtech


You CAN Handle Them All! A Guide to Handing 117 Misbehaviors at School and at Home http://bit.ly/6lHxrv #ntchat #discipline


@ShellTerrell i just wrote a post on the virtual world and real tears http://ow.ly/20jVX can’t delete cyberbullies #edchat

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.
  • Freelance education bloggers are wanted! You will get paid! Might be nice for extra cash in the summer!More details here!

If you enjoy this series, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

For more tweets, check out these posts:

Challenge:

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?


Bookmark and Share

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