Twitter and me


@twopcharts tweeted me today saying it’s my 4th anniversary on Twitter.  I don’t really keep track of such things but the tiny bit of maths geek in me got lured by the promise of stats in the site, of which the above is just a fraction.  Anyway, what the stats do not show is that most of my Twitter activity happened in the last 12 months or so. The latter is important to state because it means that Twitter for me is only as good as the people I connect with – it is social media after all.  Having more people to interact with makes it far more fun, engaging, enlightening, challenging, interesting, so on and so forth.

It is wonderful that today, of all days, I get to chat to @lasic about Twitter and social media, in general.  It is a pretty good snapshot of how I view Twitter; on my 4th anniversary – here’s a Storify this conversation.

And finally, I read @ChrisWejr‘s post: Social Media and Education: who is it really about? I quote from my comment there,

Today I celebrate my 4th year in Twitter and looking back, I’ve gained sooooo much from it. People do come and go, and that’s fine….it has to be because that’s life. What I can do, and actually do, is try to nurture what I can – the people I gravitate to. It’s one great big, organic narrative really and I love how stories get woven and intertwine.

Many more conversations happened today – stories woven and intertwined.  I have to say, this has been a great way to celebrate a Twitter anniversary!





using what they know

Students complain that Information Processes and Technology (IPT) course is too theoretical.  Ipso facto, boring, especially relative to the more hands-on and generally fun Information and Software Technology (IST) .  They’re right: there are a lot of concepts. BUT they’re wrong: it is not boring – though it can be.  That can be said of any subject/course, right?

The challenge (I love them, remember?) – as with any subject – is how to make it interesting and better yet, meaningful and relevant.

The irony is, in this day and age, we live and breathe the content of these courses. The problem is we don’t see the connection, much less tap into our experience and knowledge.

I’m not saying this is the best way to do it but this is how I’ve faced this challenge, for example, to teach the design tools in the Software Development Lifecycle. So, I started with this on the whiteboard which got their attention straight away:

Identifying the external entities was an interesting exercise, especially when we got to 3rd party apps and sites – so what are APIs? (I hope some of them try to find out). We had interesting discussions on what information flows in and out of the system (talking about digital citizenship stuff, it’s good).  We got talking about multimedia data types (revising, it’s good).  We got talking about apps they use as do I (building relationships, it’s good)…..and we’d only just started.

I got students to come up to the board and draw a Data Flow Diagram. My volunteer  called out for help and they came. Good, eh? They worked together and came up with something. It wasn’t right but it highlighted some misconceptions  (opportunities for learning, it’s good), questions about information processes (more revision, good stuff) and importance of assertiveness and social skills (all good stuff).

We also used facebook registration as examples for Decision trees and Decision tables – usually ‘boring’ stuff but a lot easier to understand using an example they’re all familiar with. They learned about the design tools and appreciate why we have them, in the first place (bonus).

I will also use facebook to look at the next core topic – Information Systems and Databases….they don’t know that yet. Dan Haesler will be happy – I’m driving down the social media way  😉

But this post really isn’t about facebook , social media or even IPT. This is about tapping into what students are familiar with or care about, to teach something new or to help them in the process of abstraction (recall I said that IPT content is mostly stuff we experience but not necessarily get into abstraction?).  It is also about taking a risk because it’s outside the syllabus and no curriculum support (Dr Sarah Howard will be so proud of me – haha) Truth is, the syllabus hasn’t kept up with technology (understandably so) in that social media itself is an abstraction – it does not strictly fall into the main info systems covered by the syllabus: transaction processing system, decision support system, multimedia system and automated manufacturing system. YET, it’s arguably the most prevalent info system there is now and a perfect example of how muddled or interlinked the different types of info systems really are – silos help us understand but we must remember to re-connect….I digress, erm, do I? The other risk is that as an info system, there’s a fair bit I don’t know about facebook – I’m saying “I don’t know a lot” in this class. The upside is that it helps teach how the tools learned in IPT help us learn a bit more about it….situated learning?

I’ve actually applied a fair bit of what I learned from PLANE’s Festival of Learning, within a few days of attending it. Good, eh?

I love a happy post full of learning. cheers all!

On social networks

PLN (Professional / Personal Learning Network) seems to be a big thing in the education community. I’ve responded to requests to answer what it is and why it is important, especially in the past few weeks. Usually, it’s over on Twitter with some special hashtag. Occasionally, it’s for blog posts (re: I <3 Twitter) or some web tool like linoit or Google docs.

I respond to such requests because having a PLN is important to me: the I <3 Twitter post explains why. When Dr Alec Couros tweeted out a request for an unKeynote, I thought I’d do it.

The link goes to a blog post that outlines the request in more detail, including options for submissions; in true form, varied. I decided to make a video because:

  1. I’m on school holidays and have the time,
  2. I wanted to improve my iMovie skills,
  3. I’ve not responded via  a video before,
  4. I like the idea of “social networks“, and
  5. so I can say I’ve made a video for both Alec and George (apropos: Playing in Public) – just realised both videos are for Keynotes! Ha!

I’ve decided that the term Social Network appeals to me more than PLN does (either in its Professional or Personal variant). It is more meaningful and relevant….to me, anyway. I could harp on about how my networks help me learn and grow but sometimes, it really is just for the sheer joy of “being with” – the social bit!

It’s a very short video (less than a minute) and tailored to meet Alec’s request but I think encapsulates much of what I want to say. Who knew I could be concise? I think I need to explore movies more as a form of self-expression! Granted, the movie would make more sense if you read the I <3 Twitter post. 😉

I’m very happy that the video somehow captures the many people in my various social networks (tip: play “I spy”).

Here it is:

A video created for Dr Alec Couros for his PLE keynote:

It attempts to answer the question: Why do social networks matter in teaching and learning?

This is my personal take on it, ie a personal response, one that applies to me specifically…and hopefully, it is universal.

I love my social networks

All up, I met all the “goals” listed above such that, even if Alec doesn’t use it, I’m happy to have done this video!

P.s. If you’re reading this post, please be social and leave a comment! 🙂

Technical Info

(for those who may be curious):

The movie started off as an iMovie trailer – really nifty with a ready-made storyboard, title, effects and even soundtrack. Then it was converted into an iMovie project (File>Convert to Project) for more editing options including more varied media to include (iMovie trailers only allows video clips), i.e. photos, text, sounds.

For the screen grabs, I used QuickTime (File>New Screen Recording). Where I was too slow scrolling at the time of recording, I managed to fix via fast-forwarding the clip in iMovie.

Teacher, be a learner – step out of your comfort zone

It’s serendipitous that the Edublogs Teacher Challenge Activity #6 involves embedding multimedia.


Today I had to present about Twitter, one of the tools in our IT Plate Degustation Menu – an initiative to help teachers integrate technology in teaching and learning. Each tool must be presented in just 5 minutes. It was fortuitous that this session followed a video conference with Will Richardson (I really love his approach – passion, shifts in teaching to match shifts in learning, etc, etc, etc).

I have never recorded my speaking voice before. I have played with audio tools and done mash-ups. I have also done a little bit of recording my singing (in a choir so not solo). BUT, as mentioned, I’ve never done recorded voice-overs. I avoided it.

I thought perhaps that @willrich45 will challenge teachers and will put some out of their comfort zone. I also thought that some teachers are still apprehensive about using social media. I figured then that the best way to emphatize is to step out of my comfort zone as well and do something I’ve never done before.

Ta Da

Before launching this movie, I told my audience (my teacher colleagues) about my little movie, how it was out of my comfort zone to make it (let alone show it), how as teachers we often ask students to do or create things we may never have tried before (think podcasts, blogging, etc) and how important it was to step out of our comfort zone to experience what it’s like to be a student – a learner – and try something new. Here’s the movie (This may not work in Internet Explorer, please try other browsers – thanks for the heads-up, @Kathryn)

Join Twitter (hyperlinked media, how I’ve always done it here in this blog)

and now for the embed….

I cringed the whole time (still am) but I did it. I created a recording and presented it. Teachers were most appreciative. It’s good for them to see that technology integrators also grapple with technology – sometimes because of attitude – and that the process of learning sometimes (often?) involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone.


Much was learned from this little exercise. Personally, I felt really happy to be able to conquer my aversion to recording, at least once. I’m still uncomfortable about it but maybe I’ll do it again….maybe. I am not ready to be in YouTube or TeacherTube

Many did sign up to Twitter after this. If not sign up, then at least express interest.

Some technical info

Images were screenshots (CTRL+shift+4 on my mac – I’m a PC/Microsoft girl, so new to mac)

Audio was recorded via GarageBand – built-in microphone

Movie was made using Adobe Premiere Elements (a tool we use at school so still being teacher as student here)

Final movie was compressed from AVI to m4V via iMovie

I have not used any of the above prior to this project. I’ve also upgraded to Edublogs Pro to have a go at embedding video, get rid of ads, etc. (Read more about the different packages in Edublogs).

This has been a challenge for me in many ways. That I’m even blogging about this (embedding the video even) is a little testament to how this Edublogs Teacher Challenge is helping me grow, not just as a blogger but as a teacher and as a learner..

Social Media and mobiles – what else can we teach?

I read this article from the Sydney Morning Herald: Social media and mobiles require new response to cries for help

As an educator, there has been no shortage in exposure to the potential in the classroom of social media and mobile devices. Benefits range from engagement to real learning, with a genuine boost in depth and breadth. Schools are acknowledging that the youth of today are more connected with their peers and realise that, like it or not, the intersection of social media/mobile devices and education is a reality to contend with.

What struck me about the article is not that teens are using social media/mobile devices to connect and cry for help. That’s a given for me. What struck me as an educator is why recipients of these cries are unable to decode the pleas for help. This leads on to more questions:

  • Is this part of teaching digital literacy?
  • Do recipients think that the ease of distribution afforded us by these technologies somewhat dilute the content as in, there’s someone else there to help – doesn’t have to be me?
  • Can senders use language elements better to help send their message across, be better understood?

These technologies leverage the human need to connect and belong. As educators, we want to harness these to promote learning. Here, then, is another aspect to the educational challenge – what else can we teach about these technologies to help our students be better people, not just better learners?