Sunday, 30 December 2012

What is your favourite Twitter story? #edcmooc

I wrote this in response to a post by a fellow #edcmooc'er, Nigel Thomas. I originally wrote a reply on his blog, and then realised more than half an hour had passed and I'd written and re-written about five paragraphs. So it was obviously something that I wanted to get down myself! Here is the original post from Nigel and my rambling reply.
I would like to know what your favourite use of Twitter is, and invite you to add this in the comments below. 

Hi Nigel, that was a good post and always good to hear a different opinion from people; I think social media can have a habit of self-affirming itself all the time (like in the very funny video you shared). Myself, I see Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform as being just like any other real life social space - you're presenting yourself & interacting with others.

I think they are superb tools. Imagine 25 years ago saying you could (in theory) connect with anyone else in the world instantly and at no cost, you would be amazed. They are all blank canvases, and so how they are used is a reflection of the people using them. Or indeed the social groups & crowd behaviour that people fall into (eg "if my friends are all tweeting what they ate for dinner maybe I should do too?"). So maybe Twitter makes you squirm because it feels like you're hanging out with people who need to let the rest of the world know when they have found a parking space or stubbed their toe?

But there are also innumerable creative & practical ways that you could use Twitter. Try using hashtags (eg #edtech) to get a tailored flow of information on a particular topic. See here how teachers in Northern Ireland gathered tips and advice via their #NIdchat hashtag. That useful conference you went to - it's like having that all the time. People have Tweeted under the guise of historical figures. What a novel way of imagining what was going through Napoleon or Nero's mind on famous historical days. Poets can use Twitter - it's a challenge to construct a poem using just 140 characters. The Swedish government handed the @sweden Twitter account over to a citizen per week this year and let them tweet about whatever. It didn't always work, but it was an original idea to try promote tourism, or just to see how normal citizens would go about representing their country. Has a company ever done that? And would you respect them more for taking a risk rather than towing the predictable "branded" line? And is that a good or bad feature of digital, or human, life that you can assume a different persona than you might present elsewhere?

I thought Angela's points were also interesting about how her shyer students have used Twitter to open up & express themselves. You could spend your entire life on Twitter, and I am sure there have been papers & journals written on it. On the other hand, consider the vast swathes of the world's population who don't use Twitter at all. Are they really missing anything?

It will be interesting to see where these social media platforms are in 10, 50, or 100 years time. Or what will have replaced it? Instead of physically tweeting or posting a status update, you might just mentally do it. All that time you take trying to express yourself in a certain way, language, or form, will be gone - that vague, cloudy thought you have swirling around your head will just pop out clear as you like. All those silly misunderstandings & memory lapses - "I thought you meant this?", "I meant to say that", "I couldn't find the word to express it", "That's not what I was thinking at all!", "What was that thing called again?!?" - will be gone. Everyone will know what each other is really thinking, we will all be happier, and we can spend our time actually solving problems rather than trying simply to articulate them. Well, OK, not really, but isn't that what technology is doing for us now anyway? From GPS & calculators, to pacemakers & x-rays. Saving labour, human error, and helping us see what we'd previously been guessing at (and could you include "a Google search" in that list?). But maybe that's where the fine line between utopia and dystopia lies? (this was mentioned in the EDCMOOC course introduction video remember?) And perhaps how we use Twitter now is a sign of how we might use technology in the future - to better or belittle ourselves? There are some good stories here

Finally, just a different perspective. Have a think where any of your good ideas have ever come from? From Twitter or Facebook? Or is it actually lying in the bath, scribbling on the back of a napkin, or doing the ironing? To some degree, no matter how much technology develops, I don't think there will ever be any substitute for idly gazing off into the distance now and then and thinking about nothing in particular.

Pictures courtesy of Roger Hargreaves and Mr Men

More stories:

Friday, 21 December 2012

Just a thought....

This is a very loose & woolly suggestion, but is it reasonable to compare the rise of the internet with the rise of fast food?
Fast food chains opened up a whole new way of eating food. You could get a McDonalds cheaply & in loads of different locations. Satisfying hunger in quite a novel & entrepreneurial way. Then they became a hang out. At the drive through, movies, and sports grounds. Copy cat chains cropped up. KFC's, Burger King, supermarkets. They opened in Europe & the rest of the world. Have the meal that you love, for the same price, same style, anywhere that you happen to be. Quick, cheap, convenient, satisfying our basic need for salt, sugar & fat. Except now it's caused an obesity problem, and rich, powerful & bloated corporations, and there is a bit of a backlash against it. Some people are using local produce now, supporting farmers, eating healthily, being individualistic, and cooking themselves.

Is the same thing going to happen to the internet in years to come? Access your friends, social networks any time you want, anywhere you are, any way you like. Satisfying our basic need for social connections in quite a novel & entrepreneurial way. Then they became a hang out. At work, home, shops, cinema, everywhere. They opened in Asia, Africa & every corner of the world. Do anything you want online, anywhere you happen to be. Watch, share, and listen to anything you want. Get anyone's opinion on everything, not just now but from the huge archives as well. Except now it's causing a health problem. Poor posture, eyesight, and lack of awareness of the natural pace of life & things happening immediately in front of us. Loss of basic skills & crafts. Inequality between those who can access & those who can't

Will we see a backlash against the internet in the future? A return to using hand crafted tools, supporting local communities, living healthily & minimally, and saving our eyesight? 
What about TV & the radio? There was never a backlash against them. They just evolved. If it's a creative medium, and it's in the hands of people then it has to be good. Maybe the backlash is against the big corporations & the blind uniformity they impose? 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

#edcmooc has a school! Where are we now pre-course?

What is this "School"??
A lot has happened so far before the course has even begun. The Facebook and Twitter groups have been tremendous at really opening up connections and collaboration. We have shared blog posts, Pinterest accounts, favourite links, articles, and so on. But, it still feels a vast amount of info to digest, and what have we really learnt so far?

So, I had an idea. What if this was a real school? Where would everyone be? Where would we put everything? It seemed obvious (weblinks to the library, Twitter chats to the common room), and sounded fun to try and visualise it. So I made a mock ground plan of "the school" and here it is. There is a link beneath the picture to the plan on Google Docs with all the live links. You may also edit it or add comments here if you wish
Link to the school plan

How did I do it?
I actually did it on trusty old PowerPoint. Then I uploaded it to Google Docs and made it public. This way. anyone in the course group can access and edit it. There must be a tool or app out there that does this better. Do you know of one? Please share in the comments below.

What's this school all about?
Well, firstly it was a bit of fun. But I had a serious point and that was to try and organise all the info I've come across, and see if we can't work smarter as a group. I divided the plan it into school rooms. Each room has links to the various online spaces we have created. So, if nothing else it will be a handy reference point, and a helpful guide for newbies to the course.
Entrance Hall - Welcome
Cloak Room - Hang your coat up, and find your way round. There is a Google Map on the wall. Have a look at where all your classmates are and add yourself to the map so we can see where you are from. Have you joined the Google Plus group as well? And added your blog to the blog list? Remember to be courteous and read the rules too.
Quiet Study Room - Here's where we work away quietly on our own projects. We keep Pinterest, Evernote, Flickr & YouTube accounts. We like to share them but are happy beavering away on them in the background. We also started some study groups. You can join a QuadBlog and work in little groups together, follow the link to find out more. Or, if you are feeling overwhelmed, have a vent on the WallWisher page.
Library - there have been so many links posted via Twitter & Facebook, but I thought it was a bit unorganised, and we could be a bit smarter about this. So rather than always post to Twitter or Facebook, add a link to our shared Diigo group instead. Tag it "edcmooc" and we will soon have created an online library. It's much easier to search for things this way, and means Facebook & Twitter don't just get clogged up with endless links to articles. You can also add comments to your Diigo links. You could add why you shared a certain article for example, or pick out your favourite line and ask others to choose theirs. It is much more engaging than just pasting a link. If you have a nugget you really want to share, why not write a summary of the video or article yourself. and post it on your blog? It is sometimes more interesting for people to read your take on it, and you might think more about something if you write about it rather than just post the link.
Common Room - this is where most of us are hanging out. Links here to all the social media groups where you can join in on the conversations
Kitchen - Er, not sure about this one. Something to do with the creative area where we make things.  Links here go to test pages or groups that people are trying out.
Teacher Room - info about the course itself. There is also a link to a trial tutor group which Eric Clark set up. So, if you are a tutor yourself in real life, please join in.
Classroom - the most important bit - but look how empty it is! OK, so the course hasn't begun so it will start to fill up. For now, there is a question on the whiteboard which Steve posed.

Alright, so there's my school plan. What do you think? Did I miss any rooms out? Doing it on PowerPoint seemed so antiquated, especially given the subject matter of this course. There must be a better way to do this using a nifty website or app. Do you know of one? Or if you are clever web person, write to me and let's design one. This could be a great application to use in clasrooms. Get the pupils to design their own dream school and add web 2.0 things to each room. Make a timetable, what would be your dream day, or what do you want to study and what would the classroom look like? It would get pupils' creativity going, and teachers might learn a thing or two as well. Someone must have done this already so grateful if you can share any stories with me.