OK, I'm sure someone here can enlighten me. Twitter. Not sure I get it.

My questions about Twitter:

1. When I Twitter (is that the right terminology, or should i say "Twit"), who sees it?
2. Exactly what does it mean to be a ‘friend’ on Twitter?
3. How do I subscribe to a friend’s Twitters (again, is it Twit)?
4. Any educational uses?
5. Should Twitter be capitalized, as I have been doing?

Tags: Twitter, microblogging

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This is an interesting thread - I have wondered about Twitter and haven't used it but just signed up. One thing - many kids consider email "old people's technology" and just go right to IM or to using their social network sites for posting - so if Twitter were a whole group IM could it be that some who might not speak up could twitter instead?

This summer I heard a virtual keynote by Marc Prensky who said that when children get to school their world "slows down" because it's so different from everything else they experience.
Yes, this is an interesting thread. It's refreshing to see the diversity of opinions.

Frankly, I don't see the use of having students twittering in class at this time, but that doesn't mean someone can't change my mind. Sometimes it takes time for an effective use of a new tool to emerge.

But I figured out an effective way for me to use Twitter: I'm a technology coordinator and I'm often going to be out of the building. With Twitter, I'll have an easy way to let everyone know where I am!
I've been using Twitter for about a week now, and have 40+ people I'm following and the same following me. Most are edubloggers, and see themselves as a community already.

I've really liked seeing the books people are reading, or the projects they are working on. I'm not so interested in "who's cooking what" kind of stuff, but I can imagine that might be fun for family, etc.

I think it's pretty darned early to determine the uses of twitter for education, and for me it falls into the same category as Second Life right now--fascinating, but sucks time away from other tasks which are known to be significant and productive. Do I think there will be a place for twitter-like tools in the classroom? Probably, especially when small, iPhone-like handheld computing is ubiquitous. By then, I also think Twitter will have evolved (I'd like to see photo sending, differentiation of types of messages, etc.) and study groups, project teammates, etc. will probably find it very, very useful. Facebook has some Twitter-like capability, and there are other "instant blog" tools that I expect will inform each other and help create new uses.

I will also say that just hearing about Twitter didn't do it justice. I had to try it to actually understand the "feeling" of connectedness it produces. I also think that it has appeal as a journal-like way of recording one's activities and sharing them with people that care, which is why I think the addition of photos and historical permanence will produce a different experience than a blog--something very fast, easy, less-reflective (but more documentary) of our lives. Of course, you can do that now with a blog or Flickr feed, but Twitter's model for following and being followed is very intuitive and immediate.
This is great. I think these dicussions are what help us to learn about new ideas, try new things, and make decisions about what works for our classrooms now and in the future. The ideas presented so far on this topic inspired a post on my own blog. I thought it might be appropriate to cross post just a part of it here as well.

"As educators with a large number of standards to teach and a relatively brief amount of time
to teach them in, we have make careful decisions. The standards and the needs of our students
have to come first. A good tech tool can help students learn and think in an engaging manner, that
is effective and efficient in terms of time and money.
Some tools though aren't appropriate for classroom use and others are only appropriate in some
cases. We won't really know until we try. It isn't about jumping on the bandwagon for everything new.
I'm not going to use Second Life or Twitter in the classroom just because the are currently hot topics.
I am though going to keep investigating, discussing, and testing these tools and others. Just because
there is no clear need now, doesn't mean there never will be. Just because I can't think of an
appropriate use, doesn't mean someone else won't come up with a way to use that tool that is
engaging, effective, and efficient."

Thanks for the great conversation. School started this week. Being back in the classroom with kids puts fresh faces on how important our tech choices are. Discussing and experimenting with new tools like Twitter and the many others available will help us to make the best decisions for our classrooms.
Nice to see someone else with a realistic perspective. I think it's hard for people who are not in the classroom day after day with the demands of high stakes testing, NCLB, AYP, kids who don't speak English, kids with special needs, to appreciate the time constraints put on the teachers. You are right, we have to pick and choose what works. Have a good week and a good year. N.
Thanks for the well wishes!

I think most of us are probably "realistic" when it come right down to it. At least for me, the standards and kids needs are always on my mind even if I don't include them in a post here. It's nice to have forums like this to learn about and discuss some of the ideas and tools I might want to experiment with to see if and how they might fit those standards and needs. It is SO helpful to have so many different perspectives. Left alone, I for one would be lost.

BTW...After the first week, I am both excited/energized for the new year and a little envious of your retirement ;-)
There is a teacher doing an actual Twitteracy project who has engendered much of the same thought-provoking discussion. Here's the link:http://apaceofchange.edublogs.org/
I've been tweeting for a little while now. I definitely agree with Steve, it is one of those things you have to try out yourself. Sometimes I write silly things, other times I share an interesting blog or another information tidbit. In the edtech circle much of what people tweet is pretty relevant to me. You can follow my tweets at: http://twitter.com/lizbdavis When you click on a person you can see who they are following and add them to your list. Before you know it you have a nice little circle of friends.

I've also tried to get my family into twitter. I think it would be fun to see what my husband is thinking at various times during the day, but I can't get him to buy in yet.

There is a VERY COOL website called twittervision that shows a map of the world and what people are tweeting in real time. It is mesmerizing. I think you could definitely share this with kids and have some interesting conversations. Flickrvision does the same thing with pictures.
I just finished discussing the whole idea of "wow" technology on my blog. For many, the new tools are creating a "wow" which makes us want to try these tools. However, the kids are way past the "wow", they live with them as part of their lives. Texting, twittering, photocameras, etc are part of their daily lives in some way or fashion. As for engaging students, you can do so with nothing but a story and discussion. As I purused through the information, I was quite shocked to see the "if/or" that emerged. Do we as quickly dismiss what the students are doing? Relevant and rigorous curricula comes in many different forms and to try to narrow it to a this or that dismisses so much richness. For example, I teach a communication production technology class that has a curriculum that is totally antiquated since much of the equipment is no longer used. To continue to use it would be a waste. What is still used are the skills of communication. We have changed the technology. Will I introduce Twitter to my students? Maybe, if it fits the overall learning objectives. I have used bubbl.us instead of paper and pencil mapping because students can collaborate and such outsides the boundaries of the school. When teaching about ancient civilizations, I have my student engage in a role playing game - which they found wonderful because it was something that was part of their experience. We applied it to different objectives and students did all kinds of work that allowed them to make connections with the world today something I would not have been able to do without the technology. My students still read. They still are required to explain and demonstrate, discuss and create but I tend to use technology for students to demonstrate their understandings and knowledge. However, I work with other teachers who use other teaching methods and strategies that are just as effective. As an administrator, I believe technology use is important but not at the expense of learning. With assistance and support, teachers can begin to use different strategies where they fit. I'm past the wonder stage myself. Some things are useful for the classroom, depending on what you are doing and some will not be. Some will work with some classes and not with others. This discussion is similar to teachers just wanting to get down to teaching and enough of the other stuff already. Unfortunately, that won't happen because the "other stuff" is part and parcel of the children we teach and needs to be addressed as we help students to develop and grow.
My parents wanted their children to be successful and do well just as you did Nancy. I want the same for my own 7 children. The big difference is that I'm not raising my children in the same societal context as when my parents raised me and my siblings. No lawyers or philosphers in the bunch and, like life does, some have struggled because of life situations. All, however, are successful in their own way and, in some ways, those who overcame extreme life struggles are further ahead. I guess it depends what we mean when we say "successful". As my younger children learn the alphabet through using a keyboard, I marvel at the thought processes that go on as they master so many different things and wonder at where they will be in a few years. As educators, we need to use whatever tools we believe will work to make things relevant for students so that they are learners for life.
Wow, long paragraph! I really don't want to argue technology uses but I still hold that twitting and IM and other "in" technologies don't belong in the classroom. I just spent the entire day in inservice regarding an "edict" in our district regarding teaching reading 2 hours a day and math an hour a day to meet AYP. Teachers in our district are not sitting around thinking of ways to use ANY technology in the classroom--they don't care what the kids are doing outside of school. I'm old enough to not really care what kids are doing outside of school either; they may be smoking dope and doing jello shots but doesn't mean I'm going to.

I think kids needs a "classic"--for lack of a better word, education. If the tool makes their learning more meaningful then so be it---if we are using the tools to get in touch with them, no thanks. I know I sound grumpy---tired I guess. N.
Hi Nancy,

In many ways I agree with you. I think we all try to use technology with purpose, but sometimes the allure of what's hot can seduce us into finding a purpose for the technology. I know it would be a difficult sell in my district; there is just too much competing for teacher and student attention.

I think Steve is spot on when he said that Twitter is just too new, but fascinating all the same. I haven't tried it either, so I feel a bit unqualified to critique it. I have to admit, this excellent discussion has made me think more about twitter. I really like Christine Southard's idea of a classroom twitter job. This would be a great way to build a classroom connection with parents, "This is what we're doing RIGHT NOW!" I am spread across three buildings and I think twitter would be a good way to let folks know where I am. Fun stuff, but not exactly the workings of a new pedagogy.
they don't care what the kids are doing outside of school. I'm old enough to not really care what kids are doing outside of school either; they may be smoking dope and doing jello shots but doesn't mean I'm going to
I agree Nancy, I wouldn't be smoking dope or doing the shots but I'd be working hard, in whatever capacity I could, to help those kids so that they weren't coming to school suffering the affects from the dope or the shots and trying to get them to the point where they could face the day without the dope or the shots. Especially if they're leaving at noon and doing that. I agree that we need to teach the kids reading but, and this is just my bias, kids tend to pick up on their reading mistakes when they hear themselves read and that is why we use a record and listen program to help student improve their reading, sight word recognition, fluency and comprehension. It is showing some promising results, especially with students with learning disabilities and those students who are gifted and need a challenge.

I DO care about what kids are doing outside of school because if they arrive without food or with no sleep or stoned or drunk or beatup or...., they cannot learn and, as has been shown, it's not the environment that they come from that affects students learning as much as it is what we do once they get to school. Any advantage I can get that will allow the teachers in my building to be successful with students, I'm exploring and trying. If twitter allows my students to communicate and work collaboratively AND they use it outside school, then that's wonderful. As for the "classic" education, I'm not even sure what that is anymore. I watch young students learn their alphabet through the use of the keyboard, who learn letter sounds and word recognition through interactive use of games and activities which are used in conjunction with other strategies, giving students a richer learning experience which is further enriched by an adult who cares for them, not just as a student in the school but as a person with needs.
As for getting in touch with them, sometimes I have to get in touch with them in order to keep them in the building. No stay, no learning.
As for sitting around thinking of ways to use technology, I don't. The technology tools are there and I use them as strategies like I would drill and practice, reading circles, ability grouping and others. Depends what I was trying to do. Just for fun, I sometimes offer students an option and let them pick how they want to attack a problem or create a solution. Best creation yet, a model with a recorder and a screen that played video depicting Nazi Germany and the concentration camps done by a grade 9 student 5 or 6 years ago.
I guess I too get grumpy and tired, especially after a day of trying to make kids timetables work, finding online courses for students so they can have enough credits to graduate, working with an ADHD student who had problems in a "classic" lecture period and dealing with five future soccer stars who acted more like the crazed soccer crowd than the players. I also get to hear my own children discuss their "engagement" when a teacher uses a strategy, classic or neo, that doesn't work.
I won't argue technologies. I will, however, take a very firm stand on finding what's best for students. To me, disregarding their lives outside of school is as awful as disregarding the lives of the teachers outside of school. No one turns on at 8:55 and off at 3:30. Thankfully. I don't expect a teacher who's child or parent is ill or dying to be at their best just as I don't expect a student who slept in an unheated abandoned car to be at theirs. When teachers quit caring what students are doing outside of school, what's the point?



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