Tagged: Twitter

…with thanks to TeachThought!

The graphic below indicates twenty uses of Twitter gathered under four headings: Think and Observe, Share and Interact, Analyze and Evaluate and Create and Design.

One of the challenges as a serial Tweeter (in the educational space) is to find links to content that add value to my own practice and that may also be of use to others.

I re-tweeted the above graphic via Paul McGuire a teacher from Canada. The graphic is from TeachThought and was first posted in December 2012.

I added the word Excellent and very quickly I noticed my edited re-tweet, was getting a lot of likes and further re-tweets.

Now, why did I like this chart enough to suggest it is excellent? The answer is somewhat contextual, in that I am using Twitter at the moment in one of my own history classes. Students are using a  class Twitter-account to complete an end-of-year assignment, for the subject History.

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Their work is fine, but I was trying to figure out ways of making the students (next years class!) work harder, in the online space.

The topic I had chosen for the current group (Germany 1933-1939) is media rich. Next year I will take a local history project with little published data so that the students are challenged to create, rather than just use readily accessible information. I therefore related to the Create and Design section from the TeachThought Twitter Spectrum above.

The OECD and PISA’s Andreas Schleicher spoke on Ireland’s national radio, last week (here). about applying knowledge creatively, to solve novel problems. Last week also saw Dr Jim Gleeson, Professor of Curriculum and Identity at Australian Catholic University write of teachers, in the Irish Independent (here) as “facilitators of learning who support and acknowledge student achievement and diagnose learning difficulties.

It is important that teachers hear supportive voices as they seek to find ways to recreate teaching and learning for their students.

Lots to Tweet about! Any comments?

Thanks to David Clarke for bringing the Schleicher and the Gleeson links to my attention.

Its trending on Twitter…well possibly!

twitter-birdsApologies – May 2012 has been a particularly busy  month in the school I teach in.

I have collected and am reading a number of pieces that I hope to blog about over the coming weeks!

Those of you who know me, know that I hold the work of Howard Rheingold in high regard. I came across him first, in terms of his use of a quotation from Ernest Hemingway Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him in terms of how we filter and critique what we find online.

This is an important disposition and one that I encourage amongst my colleagues and the students I teach. It is an important disposition also for digital citizenship and the living out of democratic values.

I am beginning to hear more and more the phrase its trending on Twitter. At first I noticed this at conferences I was attending (there seemed to be a happiness metric if the conference trended) and then I noticed my (younger) teenage daughter talking about Justin Bieber trending!

The trending phrase is now an important media metric, with some T.V. shows in Ireland using the fact that they trend, as important in itself.

An significant debate is developing about the meaning of Twitter Trending in the USA.

This was after supporters of #occupywallstreet noticed that it did not trend as expected – this raised a debate about censorship, manipulation and so on.

Stepping back, interested people then began to ask questions about the nature of the algorithm that Twitter uses to decide what trends.

I find it interesting that Twitter Trends is not simply an account of what is most popular at a given time.

I am reading Tarleton Gillespie’s, Can an Algorithm be Wrong (here)? He explains how

Twitter explains that Trends is designed to identify topics that are enjoying a surge, not just rising above the normal chatter, but doing so in a particular way. Part of the evaluation includes: Is the use of the term spiking, i.e. accelerating rapidly, or is its growth more gradual? Are the users densely interconnected into a single cluster, or does the term span multiple clusters? Are the tweets unique content, or mostly retweets of the same post? Is this the first time the term has Trended? (If not, the threshold to Trend again is higher.) So this list, though automatically calculated in real time, is also the result of the careful implementation of Twitter’s judgments as to what should count as a “trend.”

Clusters of users appear to be very important with Twitter Trends – Gillespie points out that topics are more important if they exceed clusters.

What Twitter determines that trends, will determine what we discuss – trends are what Gillespie calls earlier in his article…an advertisment to read further and to…draw new users into new conversations.

It is interesting that in the very recent past we night deterime a persons political persuasion (at least here in Ireland) by the newspaper they bought. We don’t buy Twitter, we download the App and allow its algorithm to amongst other things

  • determine what we might or might not discuss
  • determine what might or might not be our political musings

Educators, whether parents, teachers or lecturers have a huge task in keeping up with what is really important – there are a lot of courses on what social-media is, but very few (that I can see) on the relational and dialogic aspects of social media. Challenging times!

Gillespie, T. 2012. Can an Algorithm be Wrong? Limn [online]. Available from <http://limn.it/can-an-algorithm-be-wrong/> [Accessed 28 may 2012].

The photo at the top of the page is from Abigail Silvester.

Twitter for Teachers – Twitter for teaching?

This post is inspired by an old (2009) blog post (here) from San Franciscan David Silver on on what he defines as thin and thick tweets: thin tweets are posts that convey one layer of information. Thick tweets convey two or more, often with help from a hyperlink.

It is also inspired by a recent blog post (March 2012) by Rebecca Lieb How Real Is Social Media Fatigue? (here) from which I quote below.

Twitter for Teachers

I have blogged previously about Twitter in education, especially as a tool for professional development (here for example).

I think that debate is well and truly sealed with those of us who use Twitter for continuing professional development. We are convinced of its effectiveness in our practice. Teachers and educators have developed what Rebecca Lieb describes as deep networks on Twitter.

Twitter for Teaching

  • Some basics – Twitter as Media

I have been practicing a little Twitter literacy with some of my Transition Year History students (aged about sixteen). A common first  reaction from students is I just don’t get Twitter.

This reaction is easy enough to knock on the head – I show them my Twitter account and explain how I use it – I  separate the feeds out on Tweet Deck and show some examples of live feeds, hash-tags and trends. I then let them loose on Twitter itself. The students get it, even if they don’t necessarily want to us it.

This type of lesson is important if only to teach the basics of digital participation and citizenship.

  • Developing with Twitter – using it in a subject area

Fintan O’ Mahony (no relation) an educator from County Tipperary, has his class tweeting, what we history teachers in Ireland understand as Significant Relevant Statements. These could be, for example,  two or three tentative statements of fact or an important cause and effect. This is a tweet from one of his classes on the French Revolution.

I had hoped in my own practice to have students (aged about sixteen) adopt the Twitter persona of a Key Personality (examples here) off our Leaving Certificate History course.

This did not work out the way I wished, as I had no joint control over the accounts (over thirty) that I would require each student to create. It is not that I wish to control the students accounts in a negative way, but that I wished to have professional agency with the students as we worked together. This is one of the benefits of Edublogs where a teachers and student can have joint control over the individual student blogs.I have done this previously with up to thirty blogs.

One of the students I teach tweeted the following


It meets Silver’s requirements of a thick tweet. It gives useful historical information and I can identify the student by their initials. However for the moment the Tweet is lost within a Twitter stream of all the other historical personalities I had the students choose.

Twitter Stream

There are ways around this that I am considering but the exercise made me reflect once again on the nature of Twitter and social-media.

Rebecca Lieb talks of using social media strategically and tactically (in her context of marketing).

Why is it we want to experiment in using Twitter in teaching our subject areas?

  • Is it to give relevancy and teach literacy?
  • Is it to see what is feasible?
  • is it to engage with our subjects in new ways?
  • Is it indeed a good use of valuable teaching time?

It would be interesting to sit down with a developer and see how Twitter might be further leveraged for deep learning.

Is Twitter for subject teaching simply a tactic on our way or something significant that might really develop the teaching and learning of our subject areas.

Just some thoughts – any comments?

Thanks to @fboss for tweeting the David Silver link.

Thanks to @klillington for tweeting the Rebecca Lieb link.