Tag Archives: social media

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 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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Layers of a PLN

Educators must be resourceful and self-manage their own professional development 2.0 if they are to keep updated , innovative and refreshed. The ability to now connect with other professionals around the world means you have access to a range of creative and reinvigorating ideas. I am rating Twitter more and more now after seeing the benefits of starting to use it as an integral tool in my PLN.


Short and to the point. Tweets offer a 140 character insight into the person’s thinking or webpage they are offering. Like-minded professionals are personally participating in a community of PD and sharing their wealth of knowledge. They are exploring dynamic, personal pedagogy and contributing the sum to the community’s conscious and knowledge.

This is how I personalize my PLN and make it meaningful for me. I seek out those who might offer valuable insights or a new way of thinking. I hear about their best practices and feel energized in my own teaching. Collaboration is ever present as you tweet at each other to share personal thoughts in an effort to solve a problem, share a question or just to provide a little bit of inspiration. #hashtags organize and in turn personalize tweets for a user driven experience. You can search


My version of piggybacking. What I’m referring to here is using the resources you deem valuable and seeing the resources that they deem valuable. It seems that just about all educators on Twitter must be following @edutopia, the twitter account for the website of the same name, and another popular one is @cybraryman1. I started to follow them and I then saw them re-tweeting others and I check out the original source of the retweets. If they have some interesting tweets, I follow them. I’ve just piggybacked my way and chose those that will engage my interests. The tweets will come in thick and fast so be selective.


So you see, PLNs to me can be visualized as a parfait. Thanks to Donkey for my inspiration here. I check Twitter and find an interesting tweet. I click and find an interesting article. I like to click once more if I can and follow the train of thought that got me there in the first place. So I’ve just done the two clicks (maybe more) and I’ll bookmark or follow on Twitter if something struck a chord with me. I go back to Twitter and start the process again, thus building up the layers of my PLN. Short and sweet but repetitive building layers upon layers.

Unfortunately, this is the era of cutbacks and shortages. Budgets are being slashed and there is nothing professional, nor anything developed, within a lot of workplaces. With Twitter, I am getting ahead; getting the most out of teaching; getting the most out of learning. And I’m making some awesome desserts at the same time…


Originally posted April 24, 2011 http://www.digitalemerge.net/#/layers-of-a-pln/4550827977

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