Friday Reflections

First of all, I am going to just state that I have not used Twitter. Having said that, I do know what the tool is and have seen it used. I must admit that I am somewhat mystified as to why this tool is so popular with everyone.
These were the confused and mystified thoughts as I read a couple of posts on the Betchablog. In their post, they wrote, “My first thought about Twitter was the same as most people’s first thoughts about blogging… “Why?” Why on earth would anyone be at all interested in what I am doing right now? Who would care? The idea of taking the time to write a short sentence stating my current activity or thoughts, and sending them to who-knows-where just seemed to be totally bizarre to me. Not only that, but it seemed so inconvenient to have to go to the Twitter website just to do this… I simply couldn’t see what the attraction was.”

This was/is exactly what I think about Twitter. Now, the author did become a fan of twitter after having used it and listed their reasons and now there is wiffiti; a sort of cross between a wiki and a twitter. However, I still do not understand what the fuss is. Who has the time to do this? I don’t get to my computer enough during the school day to keep a Twitter going effectively. I have a hard enough time keeping my personal blog and my classblog going let alone get home to my wife after planning, etc to have some quality time.  Having other educators commenting on your thoughts of the moment and sharing their thoughts is appealing. In our classrooms all day, it is sometimes hard to have conversations with other teachers that really reaches deep into the core of teaching and learning. So, having a group of educators at your fingertips you can follow and converse with is appealing. However, I believe that it is missing the meaningfulness of actual interactions that are longer than the instant, quick response twittering enables. Don’t we want to develop deeper understandings of what it means to educate and be an educator? Can we have those types of conversations in the small amount twittering allows us? Or are we moving more into what seems to be the domain of media where everything needs to be in quick soundbytes of information? Don’t we want to teach our students to reflect and develop deeper understandings? Can these be done using twitter? Me personally, I would rather spend the time trying to interact with other educators through e-mail, wiki’s or blogs.

The other thing I wonder about Twitter is how do we bring in the other educators who have just as much expertise and information to share but don’t want to be bombarded with constant messages. It’s too distracting. Sometimes I wonder if what we do as educational technologists is not so much bring ideas and learning together but increasingly seperate ourselves from those who don’t have as much skill with technology thus creating this division. I don’t think Twitter as a tool as to bring the two groups together.

Anyway, that’s my thought. I would love to be convinced otherwise. Maybe somebody out there can convince me.

Why I am a Educational Technology Teacher

Hi everyone! Well I have been at this for a little and have enjoyed sharing ideas and thoughts with all of you. And I know that there are people reading the site. However, right now it is a little one sided. I would like to hear more from you, dear, thoughtful, more intelligent than I readers.

So I thought I would start a topic and see if we can build it. As they say . . . If you build it, they will come!

So here it is . . . Why I am a Educational Technologist!  I will start it off and give the ending. I would love for us to compile a list of reasons why, though technology integration is frustrating and challenging at times, we keep at it in our schools. Your thoughts can be thoughtful, provocative, inspiring, hopeful, challenging or tongue and cheek. As they come in I will keep updating the list so everyone can see it grow!

Here we go!

Why I am a Educational Technology Teacher!

I want to empower my students!!!

I can plug in a computer, projector, tv, etc!

…….

But most of all, I am a teacher working and striving to help all my students reach their potential!!

Let’s get this out there and build this list!!!!!!

The Busy Educator

NetworksI saw an interesting blog article yesterday on the “Dangersouly Irrelevent” blog. Scott Mcleod makes some very good points on social network overload (click on link to see article). However, I think it can be generalized to more that just social networks. I have a number of blogs I subscribe to and try to read daily. Including Scott’s blog, I have about 4 other education related blogs to look at. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. I have many other interests, including photography, tech sites, music sites that I am interested in keeping up with. So all told, I have about 25 sites that I try to read every day. This of course does not include the videos and audio clips that are included or the links that the author has compiled for the reader to enjoy. This is a large amount of time, as Scott points out, to spend gazing at a screen when I have more pertinent things to attend to.

But it’s so addictive!

The problem I see is the continuation and encouraging of conversation. How can we encourage discussion or build on ideas if we are spending all our time reading. I find that by the time I am done reading all the blogs, I don’t want to spend more time responding. When I open, my aggregator and see all the blogs that have new entries to read, I’m trying to go through them as quickly as possible, not only to read them but also to keep them from piling up. On one day, I can have as many as 45 or more entries to peruse. As Scott points out, how can you respond to all of them? You can’t. This also affects the quality of responses you do have the time to make. How can we really create change and promote ideas worth discussing if the discussion remains shallow? Now I am not saying that all the discussions I have read are shallow. This is definately not the case. However, if my experience is anything to go by, by the time you have written a blog entry, you don’t really have time to spend producing well thought out arguements or ideas. When I look at a blog and see the shortness of some comments, I wonder how the discussion can continue to be meaningful and insightful.

Something else I am seeing just struck me last night as I was going to sleep. As I continued to gather blogs that interested me, I needed something that would compile them into one area that I could quickly access. I use a nice program called Vienna for Mac that has really been useful and easy to use. While Vienna is a great program, it has also taken away that personal aspect that the actual blog attempted to create. You often don’t get to meet the author of the blog, so the blog itself is your only connection to that author. How many hours did you spend creating your blog, adding pictures, videos, backgrounds, etc? If you’re like me, you probably spent a fair amount of time personalizing your blog. Why? Because you want people to get an idea of who you are; your thoughts, interests and some aspects of your personality. When a person comes to your blog and connects with your interests and ideas, they’re encouraged to respond. They want you to know their ideas and develop that relationship. Your blog has created that environment. When using blog aggregators, you lose that personality. All of a sudden, it is just a list of blogs and comments that you quickly work your way through. There is no personality to it; nothing to encourage people to connect. I find myself making more of an effort to respond when I am on an actual blog. When I use Vienna, I just tend to scroll through the blogs with new comments and move on to another task. I am more of a passive consumer of ideas rather than a producer or contributer.

As more and more information is given to us, through blogs, social networks, etc, are we actually going to regress? Are we going to use these tools less and less because we lack the time to develop meaningful conversations through these tools?

Ian