Category Archives: Teaching Tech

Thoughts on Twitter

Today I read a post by Pernille Ripp explaining why she unfollowed everyone on her Twitter account. You can find it here.

To be honest, I haven’t been on Twitter as much as I probably should be. And I think a big part of that is the superficial engagement she talks about. We see something we like – we follow without a second thought.

How many people on Twitter do we actually engage with regularly? How many of the people we follow have we actually taken the time to engage with more than a simple ‘like’ or retweet?

I think part of the problem is that we are trying to make up for the fact that Twitter is such a brief platform (with only 140 characters allowed) by being sneaky. We post elsewhere and provide links to content 10,000 times the size. We make use of URL shorteners to squeeze more content in. So we as consumers are forced to spend at least 2-3 mins per tweet with the linked content if we are to truly engage with the content available to us.

Some might argue that is the point. We follow others to have content streamed to our feed that we want to see. Or is it? Isn’t Twitter meant to be a communication channel? Or perhaps that is our choice.

Treat it as your NewsFeed, or your own personal broadcaster, or as a way to chat and build relationships with people all over the world who you otherwise would never have met. That is the beauty of it I suppose – it is what you make of it.

As for me, I think I need to go through my ever expanding ‘following’ list and make sure I am making the best use of the platform at my fingertips.

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Red Tape – Technology in Teaching

I am working on creating an assignment for one of my maths classes. It’s pretty good, even if I did find the initial idea for it on the internet. My issue is – I think it would work really well as an interactive website, but the amount of red tape I would have to go through to make that happen – in a school that says they are forward thinking with technology – is just not worth the struggle. I think I’m going to have to go back to the trusty pen and paper for this one.

Someone told me a few months ago was that the online world and the ‘real’ world are not seperate – they are in fact one and the same. If this is the case, then we should really be breaking down the barriers to functioning in an online space, whether it be as a business, a professional, a school, or a student. The earlier that kids learn how to safely function online the better, as that is the world that they will be living in when they graduate. If they are prevented from interacting online in a supportive environment throughout their schooling years, what are they going to do when they are suddenly in the ‘real world?’

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As for me and my assignment, I’ve decided to go with pen and paper for the time being. I have suggested to my colleagues that we work towards having an interactive space in the future where students are able to collaborate both with their teachers and each other online, however the amount of paperwork and meetings and permission and red tape that would be involved for that to happen at the moment is just too much.

We know we are going through an educational revolution. We are no longer churning out industrial workers, and because of this, chairs and tables in rows and the teacher at the front of the room isn’t going to cut it anymore. If we are trying to make big changes to the way education is taught and the way schools function, we can’t just wave a magic wand and let it happen overnight. Big change requires time, as well as a shift in culture and in attitudes.

The content and way the material is presented is already a shift – I am trying to encourage my students to apply their knowledge and thinking to real world situations, and to integrate their knowledge over a number of curriculum areas. This will already be a big shift for them. Remember, students expect school to be the same as the way their parents have experienced it, and vice versa. The same applies to teachers too – but that is a subject for another day.

Baby steps.