Category Archives: A Reappropriation of

A Reappropriation of Twitter

Twitter: Professional Development

Twittybacking in the snow?

Key Features

Teachers are recognizing Twitter, a socio-cultural tool, can be beneficial integrated into their informal professional development (P.D). From mediating conversations and collaborations to status updates, from a repository of links to group collaboration, society interacts and constructs using 140-characters or less. One technique is to follow a line of inquiry through Twittybacking (Yates, 2011, 24 April) and learn more about a particular subject or topic. By clicking through, teachers can understand the chain of thought and develop a deeper understanding. Twittybacking can be conducted with content, clicking hyperlinks, and interaction, following tweeters.

To examine the potential of Twitter, I conducted action research in which I immersed myself and participated in Twitter chat sessions (#langchat and #eltchat) using TweetDeck. Normally Twitter is asynchronous with varied amounts of time between tweets but Twitter chats are quick, chaotic, and synchronous as all participants tweet and essentially compete with each other for the attention span of other users. Hayles (2008) argues that social media sparks our hyper attention instead of deep attention and teachers must be aware of this when implementing. The concept of twittybacking still applies to Twitter chats as a thought-provoking tweet can be built on and developed collaboratively thereby constructing meaning within the Twitter chat context.

Potential & Recommendation

Costello (2009) lightly refers to connectivism in his treatment of Twitter. I observed principles  of connectivism learning through the connection of information sources through diverse opinions (Siemans, 2004). All Tweeters approached the same topic from a different angle and I developed a personal understanding from the connections I made cognitively.

Engagement with online content through Twitter is a conceptual shift in the way teachers view information and knowledge (Alvermann, 2008). It requires a mobility to laterally move through hypertextual content, in often multimodal formats, reading globally and applying locally, or vice-versa (Luke, 2003). In this scope, there is a question of digital fluency, knowledge of the technology, how to consume and produce content with it and maximising its potential (Resnick, 2004). Teachers should assess themselves and seek guidance in the supportive social space of Twitter communities.

Essentially, this is a strong P.D recommendation for those seeking empowerment through investment in their human capital, the benefits stemming from one’s knowledge or abilities (Becker, 2008), to generate socio-economic opportunities and growth. With Twitter, teachers use 140-characters in a powerful way to connect with other teachers around the globe intellectually, cognitively and emotionally (Wheeler, 2010). Connections, collaborations and constructions can be made to build a teacher’s P.D. Within a socio-constructivist setting, teachers must be proactive to turn this tool’s mode from a passive to active to work towards their P.D.

Alvermann, D. E. (2008). Why bother theorizing adolescents’ online literacies for classroom practice and research? Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52(1), 8-19.

Becker, G. (2008). Human Capital. Retrieved September 12, 2011 from http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/HumanCapital.html

Costello, E. (2009, 27-28 August). Teaching and Participatory Media. Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference of the All-Ireland Society for Higher Education, Maynooth, Ireland.

Hayles, K. (2008, January 17). My article on hyper and deep attention.   Retrieved September 01, 2011, from http://media08.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/my-article-on-hyper-and-deep-attention/

Luke, C. (2003). Pedagogy, Connectivity, Multimodality, and Interdisciplinarity. Reading Research Quarterly, 38(3), 397-403.

Siemans, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Theory of Learning for the Digital Age.   Retrieved April 01, 2011, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Wheeler, S. (2010, April 3). Why Twitter is so powerful.   Retrieved September 1,, 2011, from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-twitter-is-so-powerful.html

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A Reappropriation of Propaganda

a single microphone

Key Features

Podcasts are downloadable multimedia (audio or video) digital files made regularly for listeners. Anyone with a microphone and internet connection has the ability to make a podcast but Propaganda is software that easily produces quality podcasts. The biggest feature of Propaganda is the timeline which is intuitive and beneficial for extra quality productions. The layout of the panels ensures users can organise their clips and users can edit the sound levels, include transitions, add background effects or music, and split and edit clips. For pair or group projects, each clip can be labeled systematically so that multiple users can record and add clips into a single Propaganda file. When exporting, users can choose to save as an mp3 or upload directly to a website via FTP.

In 2010, it was reported that 45% or over 12 million American adults have watched or listened to a podcast (Webster, 2010) and it is estimated that between 34,000 – 100,000 people make podcasts to make their voice heard (Mahalo, n.d.). Very few people actually make them and in the academic world, I imagine that very few podcasts are student-made and it is professors who are posting lecture podcasts online.

Potential & Recommendation

Podcasts do offer agency to the user so teachers must decide with whom they want the agency to lie: teachers or students. Lazzari (2009) reports that students have competitive agency when they produce podcasts in higher education classes as they work harder towards producing podcasts that are perceivably better than their peers. It was also reported that students were engaged in and encouraged by podcasting and this resulted in social-constructivist learning as students effectively became teachers and their zone of proximal development was increased (Vygotsky, 1978).

These signs are certainly encouraging to the integration of podcasts projects but giving students free production reign, as Costello (2009) states in his theory of transactional control and argued above, is worthless without knowledge of how to use it.

Propaganda is only software and teachers must reflect carefully on the substance of a podcast; a podcast with weak content in terms of structure, organization and development is weak no matter the quality of the podcast (Keery, 2011). Therefore, making podcasts is not necessarily so far removed from the traditional written essay as the podcast still needs in-depth research and a script that is structured, organized and developed. From a social-constructivist viewpoint, listening to one podcast from a lecturer is limiting. Listening and experiencing a number of students’ podcasts will give more diverse opinions and information with which to make connections, reach unique conclusions, reformulate their knowledge, and reflect (Gould, 2005).

Costello, E. (2009, 27-28 August). Teaching and Participatory Media. Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference of the All-Ireland Society for Higher Education, Maynooth, Ireland.

Gould, J. S. (2005). A Constructivist Perspective on Teaching and Learning in the Language Arts In Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Keery, P. (2011, April 5). Good-bye Essay, Hello Podcast. Retrieved September 02, 2011 from http://dialogueonline.ca/goodbye-essay-hello-podcast-new-literacies-21st-century-skills-1482/1482/

Lazzari, M. (2009). Creative use of podcasting in higher education and its effect on competitive agency. Computer & Education, 52(1), 1-13.

Mahalo (n.d.). How many podcasts are in iTunes? Retrieved September 8, 2011 from http://www.mahalo.com/answers/how-many-podcasts-are-in-apple-itunes

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambrdige, MA: Harvard University Press.

Webster, T. (2010, December 13). The current state of podcasting. Retrieved September 8, 2011 from http://www.podcastingnews.com/content/2010/12/edison-state-of-podcasting-2010/

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A Reappropriation of Smart Phones

Singaporean students with a smart phone

Key Features

A Smartphone with Augmented Reality (AR) is predicted to be adopted within education in the near future (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011) and I would predict that it has a very real future. “Augmented reality refers to the addition of a computer-assisted contextual layer of information over the real world, creating a reality that is enhanced or augmented” (Johnson et al., 2011, p. 16). There are two ways to do this:

  1. Using GPS coordinates, the AR software recognises your geo-positioning location , or
  2. Using the camera, the AR software recognises the object and displays a layer of information on the screen. (Johnson et al., 2011)

Layar is a company that makes a Layar Reality Browser that uses the smartphone camera to assist interaction between the user, the smartphone and the AR.

Potential & Recommendation

Some of the following ideas may seem unrealistic for the average teacher but teachers need to, innovate and think creatively pedagogically, rather than technologically, if we are to keep teaching and learning cutting edge. I admit that for these to be implemented, one must create software with a program similar to Layar which requires technical knowledge of AR. However, we must remember that currently, 40% of US mobile devices are smartphones (Kellogg, 2011) and IMS research (2011) expects 1 billion in 2016. Smartphones with AR is for the near future and advances in programming are constant so a program to help the average teacher may be available in the near future.

To support social-constructivist principles, the AR could be used to deliver a highly interactive AR hunt with the environment and cultural artifacts stimulating learning. Similar to AR browsing at the Powerhouse museum, the idea would be to use GPS coordinates to provide information about the environment around the user and the camera to identify specific objects. The teacher would need to nominate objects around the classroom, secondary school, or local area that fit with a cultural element. Students would be interacting with the physical environment and discovering cultural and linguistic information along the way. Follow-up activities are needed to consolidate the AR hunt by promoting dialogue, stimulating reflection, and/or text productions around the linguistic and cultural elements they interacted with (Gould, 2005).

Within this examples, students are actively learning and constructing knowledge based on their AR experiences. The smartphone and AR shouldn’t be considered as the pedagogy, rather the medium of learning. Pedagogy is what happens in reality around the augmented reality and is needed to meet learner needs (Kaufmann, n.d.). But these experiences come with a large price tag attached to the phones and to the preparation required from the teacher. Teachers must not make assumptions that all secondary students will have access to smartphones, nor the digital fluency required to seamlessly move between the AR and the real learning activity. Teachers must be prepared to use smartphones in their classrooms with very careful analysis and be prepared to justify its inclusion to possibly skeptical administrators, parents, colleagues and students.

Gould, J. S. (2005). A Constructivist Perspective on Teaching and Learning in the Language Arts In Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

IMS Research (2011, July 27). Global Smartphones Sales Will Top 420 Million Devices in 2011, According to IMS Research. Retrieved September 9, 2011 from http://imsresearch.com/press-release/Global_Smartphones_Sales_Will_Top_420_Million_Devices_in_2011_Taking_28_Percent_of_all_Handsets_According_to_IMS_Research

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., & Haywood, K. (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Kaufmann, H. (n.d.). Collaborative Augmented Reality in Education. Retrieved September 8, 2011 from http://www.ims.tuwien.ac.at/media/documents/publications/Imagina-AR_EducationPaper.pdf

Kellogg, D. (2011, September 1). 40 Percent of U.S. Mobile Users Own Smartphones. Retrieved September 9, 2011 from  http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/40-percent-of-u-s-mobile-users-own-smartphones-40-percent-are-android/

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