EdTech 543- Thoughts on Twitter for Just in Time PD

I can’t say that I am totally new to twitter.  I have been on Twitter for about three years now (I am sure that is considered “new” by many.)   I have bunch of followers and I follow my share of people.  to be honest, I am not exactly sure what an average number of followers is, but I’m sure that Justin Bieber skews that number anyways with his 28+ million followers.  So, yes, my Twitterverse is a small one.  However, as I get to learn more and more about twitter, I am finding it a wonderful place to learn.  For this module in Social network learning, I have set up Tweetdeck and incorporated a number of hashtags.  Because I teach science, I wanted some to reflect that discipline.  I also wanted to include one more related to technology.  As such, I have added columns with the following hashtags:

  • #scichat– This hashtag is dedicated to science teachers sharing ideas, resources and other science related material
  • #edchat– A general education chat that is quite popular.  There are many planned discussions using this hashtag.
  • #edtech– This hashtag has a blend of both education and technology.  There are resources geared more towards education, those geared more towards technology and ones that blend the two together.
  • #plpnetwork– This hashtag helps bring together those who are in Powerful learning Practices (PLP), those who guide the learning and for PLPeeps (those who have been through PLP).  A great combination of resources and thought provoking blogs/articles.
  • #edsci– Presumably a hashtag for discussing science education.  Unfortunately, it seems to be fairly quiet.

Here they are in all their glory via Tweetdeck

Some sample of resources I have connected to through these hashtags are:

I first heard of the idea of “Just In Time” learning in the introductory conference as I began my 8-month journey with Powerful learning Practice (PLP).  Will Richardson drew all of us in with his idea of how learning is happening in the lives of teenagers (and many others, but teens were his focus) everywhere (except in school.)  The world has changed is huge ways and the amount of information that is easily available if simply incomprehensible.   I recall reading something once about how it used to be if a question like “How old is Julia Roberts?” came up in conversation, it might never be answered.  Now, you simply have to reach into your pocket for your phone and BOOM, there it is.  (Here it is if you were wondering.)

Now, not all the information is trivia (or trivial).  A person can learn a foreign language, learn the properties of Neon gas or just about anything else you can think of.  The fact is, all of this potential learning has to impact what schools look like.  I teach Science and often ask students to learn things like the parts of a cell or the prefixes used in the metric system.  The question is ‘why?’  Most of this information can easily be looked up.  So, should I have my students spend their time and energy learning these facts or should I get them working on work that requires deeper thought and assumes that the facts are easily available.  To be honest, I am still somewhat on the fence.  There is a necessary balance if we want our students to be truly ‘educated.’  Having some facts at the ready is helpful when in a conversation.  How could smooth conversation happen otherwise?  However, the easy access also allows the deeper conversations to happen when an otherwise unknown fact or idea is easy sought out.

In the end, I want my doctor to know what my thyroid glands do without heading to his smartphone and my students to know enough to carry on an intelligent conversation without having to Google anything.  However, I also want my doctor and my students to use the resources the world has made available to them.  The idea that my doctor is conferring with his network on my case is comforting.  And knowing that my students can learn what they want, when they want it is downright cool.

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