Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Educhat discussions on twitter

Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep) brought up the idea of having an #educhat discussion on twitter, similar to the #journchat discussions among journalists, bloggers, and PR types. Note that in each case, the hash symbol (#) in front of the name facilitates later searching of tweets. See my eariler post on hashtags for more on this. There is great power in using the hashtag and identifying trending discussions. For example, at last weekend's Learning 2.0- A Colorado Conversation conference (or "unconference"), those of us live-tweeting (perhaps 10-20 people?) drove the hashtag #colearning to the 5th highest trending topic on twitter at one point. (*A discussion of these tweets is the subject of a forthcoming blog post). 

#educhat discussions would focus on a particular topic in education which would be determined by the needs and interests of the twitter education/#educhat community. Rodd and I have described #educhats a bit in the Twitter for Teachers e-book. On this page, there is a simple Google form designed to allow folks to suggest topics, times, days, and frequencies for #educhats. Please take a moment to go to that page and enter some suggestions if you are so inclined. There are certainly a lot of topics we could chat about, and this would also be a great way to find like-minded tweeple to follow and build your PLN

We were thinking of having the first #educhat on Monday March 9th. The time has not been nailed down yet, but we were thinking about sometime after 8:30 EST. Of course that time is only a suggestion for starting, as I'm sure the discussion will continue and migrate westward as the Earth rotates. Please suggest a topic, join in, and track the discussion using the hashtag #educhat

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Twitter for Teachers e-book

Recently I came across the Twitter for Teachers e-book collaborative effort, based in a wetpaint wiki. This project was started by Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep) and has grown to include over 100 members in its first ten days of existence. The project is aimed at developing a Twitter reference for teachers at all levels would would like to get to know Twitter, what it can offer, and how to use it in the classroom. I was very excited to hear about this project, as I've been wishing we had a sort of clearinghouse for information on uses of twitter in education. I think this site has the potential to be a leading dynamic reference on the topic, and more importantly a collaborative hub for those interested in using twitter in educational settings. 

Perhaps the coolest thing about this site (besides the important topic) is the collaborative atmosphere and nature. Within the first day of having joined, I felt welcomed to contribute to the structure of the e-book and to contribute to dialog about the project. Rodd is very active on Twitter and responsive to activity on the Twitter for Teachers site.

The best place to start exploring the site is the developing table of contents. In this space you can see the true collaborative nature of the project. Members suggest and make changes to the structure of the site, and head off to various pages linked from the table of contents to develop the actual content. Rodd has also provided some good information on how to contribute to the project, including videos on indexing yourself as a "twitterteacher" on delicious, and adding yourself to the project's Google map.

I encourage you the check out the site if you are a teacher interested in using twitter, whether you want to contribute or not. There is a quickly-growing wealth of information in this e-book.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How can web2.0 technologies facilitate classroom-based group work?

In a recent posting, I discussed how I thought the shift in use of technology in the science classroom would place the emphasis on collaboration, rather than on instrumentation (but without losing the many great data collection and analysis uses of technology we now employ). I've been thinking more about how collaborative and communicative uses of technology can enhance group work in the science classroom.

There are many types of collaborative grouping employed in science classrooms: group problem solving, group lab activities, pair-share, peer tutoring, jigsaw, and student teams/games to name a few. I'm sure there are many others. What are some ways in which web2.0 communications technologies can contribute to science classroom-based group learning? I'm thinking of technologies and specific applications such as chat, video chat, blogging, microblogging (e.g. twitter , cirip.ro, edmodo), online collaborative document/spreadsheet/presentation construction (e.g. Google Docs), and many others.

What follows is a brainstormed list- I certainly hope others will add to it though comments, etc.
  • Extension of group working time: I think the most obvious enhancement has to do with "extending" the time that groups are able to physically spend working together. Continued collaboration via email or chat is not uncommon, but what other possibilities are opened up by things such as Google video chat, nearly synchronous document authoring in Google Docs, desktop sharing applications (e.g. Microsoft Shared View), etc? I'm thinking of this category of use in a synchronous way, with all (or many) group members collaborating and communicating at the same time.
  • Online workspace: Related to the above but conceptualized in more of an asynchronous way is the idea of an online workspace for student groups. Within a classroom Ning or webpage, students could have their own group space in order to share ideas, documents, solutions, etc. Think of this as an online lab table or whiteboard.
  • Working group updates, or "a-ha!" sharing: One really great potential application involves the anytime updating of the group with new ideas or breakthroughs. Because mobile devices make sharing so easy via text message or microblog post, members can notify others when they have an "a-ha!" moment or just an idea which pertains to the group work. More importantly, a record of that idea then exists in the cloud, ready to be harvested and fully documented/explicated later on (see Documentation below)..
  • Sharing of group work to an outside audience: Many teachers are already using blogs as a medium for their students to share their work with a larger audience. This is a very powerful idea, and increases greatly the authenticity of the group product. But that sharing shouldn't end with the posting. The blog post/web page/document/presentation (i.e. whatever artifact gets published) should be advertised to a target audience and serve as a context for developing communication and collaboration with that audience. For example, a student group could post their solution to a complex problem and solicit a network of individuals (perhaps starting with the teacher's personal learning network, or PLN) to give feedback on their work. This would hopefully lead to network building by the students themselves. 
  • Documentation: Perhaps one of the most tangible and useful aspects of using web2.0 technologies for communication and collaboration is the ability with which interactions can be documented. Online chats, tweets, posts, web pages, collaborative documents, etc all exist somewhere in the cloud. This data can later be mined and compiled if the need arises. Of course this also presents a bit of a challenge as different formats and searching methods make this a complex task. However, herein lies an opportunity to develop more 21st century skills.

I'm sure there are many more ideas and applications for using these technologies to enhance science classroom group work. Please let me know your ideas so we can develop this thread together. Post a comment or tweet me (@Bud_T) and I'l add it here, citing you of course.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

AERA and NARST conference tweetup wikis

Paul Baker (@pabaker55) had the idea to create a tweetup wiki for the AERA Annual Meeting in San Diego. I think this is a great idea, and hope that association members will get involved in scheduling some tweetups. Also, I hope that everyone will use the #AERA hashtag in their related tweets so that we can all keep track of what's going on at the meeting.

I also created a tweetup wiki for the NARST annual conference in Garden Grove, CA which follows directly after AERA. Again, I encourage all to use the #NARST hashtag. 
Announcements regarding each conference tweetup wiki were posted to various listservs- please spread the word through your own channels as well. 

More uses of twitter in the classroom

Check out this collaborative Google presentation on interesting ways to use twitter in the classroom. There are some great ideas here, and the presentation is ever-growing.

Is there any single repository on the web that could best act as a clearing house for information related to uses of twitter in education? I've been building a list in diigo but it is far from complete. Please add to it if you can.