Apr 212010

I was honored yesterday to take part in a panel discussion at the #140 Character Conference with Lisa Nielson (@InnovativeEdu) and Kevin Jarrett (@kjarrett), moderated by Aparna Vashisht (@Parentella) and focused around teaching Social Media to students.

The talk was part of a conference put on by Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) to celebrate connections made through social media and the real-time internet and explore the possibilities these tools hold for the future as well as the “State of Now.” Watch a great interview with Jeff here.

It was powerful to listen to talks based around how the real-time internet will change how we interact with our physical surroundings as well as talks on news gathering and the voting system as well as Chris Lehmann’s (@chrislehmann) powerful School 2.0 talk (haven’t seen it? Shame on you. Watch it here.) I also enjoyed MC Hammer’s interview (he is seriously legit, no joke!) and the panel discussion with the founders of both Foursquare (@dens) and Gowalla (@jw)–competing companies that offer a similar service. There was also a spirited talk by Chris Weingarten (@1000TimesYes) that you can watch here.  Warning. Lots of F-Bombs.

What struck me was how many of the panelists and speakers kept referring to using Twitter to make personal connections.  Many of the attendees at the #140 Character Conference are business people, marketers, members of the media (newspapers, radio, et al.), etc… and are trying to find ways to connect with their clients, audience or customers in a personal way.

We, as educators, it seems are way ahead of the business world in how we use Twitter to make real, meaningful connections.  The education panels themselves are proof enough of this. I had never met anyone on the 2 panels face to face (except Kevin, my edcamp Philly co-conspirator) but I have known them for a year on Twitter.  The connections we had made over the last year through Twitter made it seem as though we were long time friends.  We wasted no time laughing, cracking jokes and holding meaningful discussions about education and technology.

Here is our short but sweet panel discussion on Real Time Communication and Education.

Once they are up, I will embed the second education panel of Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby), Steven Anderson (@web20classroom) and Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal), moderated by Kyle Pace (@kylepace). It was quite passionate!

Thanks to http://www.ippio.com for segmenting the videos for easy viewing!

You can also see a great talk by a teacher who used Twitter to teach his students Animal Farm by George Orwell on their site here.

Mar 222010

I have been participating in the weekly Twitter discussion, #edchat, since August 2009.  It has been amazing watching the conversation grow and expand, pulling more and more people into the conversation. The topics range from educational technology to best practices in education and schools.  Many times the conversation is heated, often it is inspiring and it is ALWAYS fast-paced.

Many nights I have found my thoughts challenged, or had my beliefs validated. I have learned what it may be like to teach in other parts of the country and the world. I have learned that many of the struggles that I face here in Philadelphia are not isolated to my school or my district. I have also learned that perspectives are very different depending on many factors such as what state, suburb, city or rural town you teach in, whether you teach in a private school, public school, charter school, high school, elementary school or in higher education as well as many others.

Sometimes we get caught up in our own bubble, and #edchat has helped burst that bubble.

That said, there are those who feel that #edchat is a group of educators “preaching to the choir,” that it is merely a gathering of like-minded people agreeing with each other and not making any real ‘change’ in education.

However, I have found that certain #edchat discussions have forced me to think and/or rethink how I teach, what I teach or a belief that I hold. While I may not go back to my classroom and immediately implement something from the night before, my goals and approach to teaching has been influenced by the conversations I’ve had with others from around the country and the world.

How has #edchat made ‘real changes’ for you in your classroom, your school, your district or your professional life? 


Please leave a comment below.  I am collecting ideas to share as part of the Real Time Communication and Education panel at the #140 Characters Conference in NYC on April 20th.