Sunday, December 29, 2013

Year End Summary Videos

This year, I 'made' a few videos to summarize some themes from my Instagram and Twitter accounts. Fun, easy to use tools that take info from your feeds to create a short video - why not make your own? The past two years, I put up a summary of my photo a day projects, which I did not do this year - I think I will do it again this year though - I did get a new lens for my Canon Rebel T3i for Christmas :-)


Monday, December 23, 2013

Being Connected - a Twitter Reflection

A few weeks ago I tweeted my 6000th tweet. I marked it with a shout out to my current & past students at BU. This 'milestone', and I use the term lightly (I am not a prolific user of twitter, well that might be relative, I tweet more than many, but less than many others), along with being a participant in someone else's Ph.D. research,  prompted me to reflect back over my use of social media. It was really starting this career as a teacher educator and educational researcher that prompted me to start using social media to connect. While I had dabbled in some forms of Web 2.0 and social media as a school Principal, I started really using social media seriously in 2009 for many reasons. Primarily I thought I should know more about the media that many educators were using and beginning to use in the classroom. I did not want to be one of those people who criticize social media without a real knowledge of it. As I started using twitter - and adding in other media - slideshare, several Ning groups, LinkedIn ... (I now have too many social media accounts to keep track of) that I began to realize even more value. About this same time I also began blogging - this one is my first, started as part of a course in my Ph.D. program, and I added a few more after that. I found twitter to be the mainstay of my PLE, it was a way to share and discover resources, articles and posts of interest, but was even more so a tremendous way to connect and keep in touch with others. It is also, at times, a source of amusement! I follow many educators at all levels (I think it is vital to keep current with what is happening in schools given my role as a teacher educator & researcher) in addition to many other people from many walks of life. I have met so many of these people face-to-face, through online chats and other ways and each adds value to me as a person and a professional. I could go on to name some of the people I have met, but there are many & I have mentioned some in previous blog posts. This is the real value of twitter (& social media) - it is a technology, but it is much more - it is about people, and it does us well to remember that the people we meet - in person or online, that give life value.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Best Practice? and other phrases & words we use ...

A few comments about the words we use.

One of the terms/words we often use in education is 'best practice' ... I have grown to bristle a bit at that one. I know it is just a term we use, however, it gives the impression that there is a set of such practices, you know, the best ones - ones that always work, right? I don't think so, there might be promising practices, or practices that often work ... but I think it is presumptuous to believe that there are best ones. Educators know that context is important. What works in one class or with certain students will not with others. In fact, something that works one day in a certain class may not in the same class on a different day. There are more of these misleading terms we use, most often we know what the person means, but we should try to be more accurate - or misconceptions will occur. In my dissertation, I found that defining 'social media' is also not a clearly defined term - and clarity is pretty important in a dissertation, as I am finding out, what might be clear to one person, raises questions for another - fun!

Oh - one more, the saying that the technology is 'just a tool'. Now I know what folks mean by this, I say it too, however, I think we need to be aware that the tech is much more than just a tool - it can change the way we do things. Cars changed our world in so many ways, computers have too, the way we communicate, research, and create - and they change - or could change - what we do in the classroom. I agree with those who say we need to start with pedagogy, but the tech is not just a mere tool. I don't mean that in a deterministic way - we do have control over how we use the tools, but the tools do affect us. As McLuhan said; 'We shape our tools and thereafter, our tools shape us.'