Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Twitter Stream (and consciousness)

Twitter Stream (and consciousness)

The subject of this post is trivia. I just wanted to jot it down to remember. You never know where alleged trivia can lead to.

My thoughts on your thoughts.
Sometimes you need to take your time to write a comment.
Sometimes what you would say is a bit off-topic, so you need time to collect your new thoughts in a blog post (linktribution to the inspirer).
Sometimes you simply get stuck at an emotional response that you do not add to the original comment thread. Simply because that is not in keeping with your commenting style.

You tweet.

Will Richardson willrich45 This kid is dangerous...http://tinyurl.com/2xflq5

David Warlick dwarlick Just read Will's post (http://tinyurl.com/2xflq5). I'm not sure we are even capable of answering his rhetorical questions!

Christopher Sessums csessums @willrich45 dangerous for whom? For teachers?

Cathy Nelson cathyjo Just read will's most recent post --all i can say is wow http://tinyurl.com/2xflq5 We better keep up with our kids or they will pass us by

So what?
So now the information landscape is richer and more complex.
I know, that's yesterday news.

It means that:
-Blog posts are read as soon as they are published by network members.
-I needn't wait for a response (less Statcounter anxiety)
[How many people would not like blogging because you never know who reads, when and why? How many would think that no comments equals not interested, no impact.]

This is a totally -so far- hidden blog reaction. Technorati link count or del.icio.us bookmarklet widgets cannot provide.

Therefore, my thoughts on your thoughts:
Where did all these voices go to before?

Powered by Scribefire paper.
It seems I get inspired to write after lots of clicking and opening tabs, which gives my Firefox indigestion and I need to re-start it.
In the meantime, I jotted this down on a small -but cute- notebook. I transcribed it unchanged.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Twitter Friends

Twitter Friends

I am transcribing here my comment on Jen Wagner's post 140 Characters Does Not a Friend Make...

I have been coming back to this thread ever since its publication day. So much to digest here.

My first thoughts. I noticed I am not following everyone commenting here on my Twitter. Those I am following are writing thoughts totally consistent with my mental picture of who they are. That picture has been built through distributed sources -not just Twitter. Let me tell you that internally I am choosing to follow you all again. I need these minds around for my own selfish learning purposes. Hope my continuous learning intentions excuse my being so selfish.

Secondly, I think we are becoming aware of why we tweet or connect by going to the deep end of the pool. This is what we are asking our disconnected colleagues to do as well as our students -go experiment. It’s only fair to learn how to make our own skins thicker. Some people probably have uncomfortable moments online at earlier stages of adoption (stages we went through so quickly we hardly had time to feel uncomfortable). To learn technology, we must swim in it and perhaps -at times- choke on water. If we learn, we pave a better way for others by sharing these reflections.

We are becoming aware of what we wanted out of the tool with the evidence of the good and bad we have encountered so far. It’s interesting to think about the people we want to come into this world. Sometimes we talk about what we found so good only. Perhaps the first question we should ask attendees in a workshop is not ‘Have you ever used blogs and wikis?’ but something like this: ‘What would you like to achieve in your profession or classroom that you have never been able to do before? And then offer an account of our experiences with tools to achieve some of those ends. If someone told me they want to make friends with like-minded teachers, I don’t think I would recommend Twitter as a starting point.

Can we use Twitter purposefully? With a clear objective in mind? Probably. Some of you know I have been a tweet collector for a while. I have seen and ‘documented’ different uses and interesting examples of conversations. Twitter certainly can help for many diverse reasons already outlined in this thread. The point is that when we started, we simply had an open mind and not a collection of clear-cut educational purposes guiding us. We subscribed to people (because we had been reading their blogs) and by doing so, we got all this added value quite effortlessly. A posteriori. Now tell me, how do you feel when someone only tweets if they need something? What do you think of those unknown new followers who seem to be publicising their blogs? Trying to find a good use of Twitter, the right use of it or -worse even- the best, is a loss of time. Just ask yourself what you want from it first. In the end, tools will be assessed by a rubric based on the users’ needs.

Relationships, online or offline, are difficult to have. We are to interact in messy contexts, open up to meet new people in the network, expose ourselves to challenge our thoughts on our shift from traditional teachers to people modeling learning. We have to abandon the illusion of control and the few good friends. Mind you, I struggle at this every single day. This is going to remain so for quite some time. It is probably better to get used to it, rather than fuel hopes of arriving to an organised, straightforward way of doing things. Learning is messy by nature.

Thank you all for triggering of this conversation.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Distributed Thoughts

Distributed Thoughts

I really appreciate those learning moments when different lines from assorted sources come to your head. It's as if they were claiming for your mind to stop and make sense out of those ideas before they become a mental traffic jam.

As I write this, key nodes in my Twitter network are reflecting and posting. As much as there has been talk of Twitter being a procrastinating tool, we must remember distraction is something coming from within. Some people claim they even focus better while on Twitter.

Now to the post proper.

Let me jot down the ideas that seem to resonate with my learning today.
Networks vs Communities
How can we define them? We probably talk about different things while using those terms. Have you noticed a recent use of the word 'Twitter' meaning network? I think we are experiencing something we can clearly frame as new, but we cannot yet describe properly. Then, the word Twitter comes in handy simply because it reassures us we are not bringing connotations from the words network or community, which have been applied to so many kinds of entities before the Internet. This new Twitter-enabled networked way of learning together is still rather messy to describe. So far for Twitter, let it be messy. I think that on Jennifer's post today, we have reached an interesting learning moment. Way beyond 'Twitter is the silliest thing'. Those comments can only be written by people engaged, networked and who have been using a tool long enough before talking about it.

I think we really should be asking ourselves what we mean when we use the words network and community. My point of view on this is a linguistic one, you may say; but what do I know, I am a language teacher! One way of approaching a definition is to apply a bit of componential analysis as viewed by Geoffrey Leech. In other words, what semantic components are we including in our use of those two words? I'm sure a reflection on this can be worth the time.
For example,
(make your mental plus and minus signs on this multiple choice, as you would apply them to network or community)
Communication venue: f2f, IP voice, chat, blog
Contact frequency: daily, sparingly, if needed only
How much is shared: very personal feelings (e.g. a relative's loss), a blend of interests, only professional/learning level
How are they formed?: Spontaneously, by an organiser, a blend of both.

I could go on listing semantic components; however that is not the point. Words like community and network will mean different things to all of us depending on our experience from them.
Meaning and sense are drawned from distributed sources. Just one example:
(To be read in reverse chronological order)

Bud Hunt budtheteacher Depth/breadth. Today/tomorrow/yesterday. Creating yet another "this is the one" wiki. These are all the same struggle. I think.
Cathy Nelson cathyjo @fceblog I agree wholeheartedly Twiiter has defintely stretched my comfort zone and made me try things I might not otherwise try-w/new frnds
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: You should be writing this blogpost . . . well said.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog I'm not so fascinated by how fast things go here in Twitter,but how the notion of place and closeness has been altered. Classtime anytime!
Claudia Ceraso fceblog Time... quality time for learning is something overlooked I think. New tools do not teach us. Our reflection on a sustained use of them, yup
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Got it! Remember when you said this about your new job? "2. Take our time and do it right." Hey-that was as short as a tweet
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: I'm all ears.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @shareski: As did I. So perhaps we're on the same page. Thanks for clarifying. @chrislehmann: Yes - history is essential.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher. We're synced today. You are probably right about Twitter (hope you post it). I remember now a line from you -give me a sec.
Dean Shareski shareski @budtheteacher..by yesterday I meant it figuratively...good stuff happened years ago as well and still requires our attention.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: You've got the gist of my point.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher I think I'm providing a clear example of why/how Twitter fails at deeper meaning. I'll write or talk this idea up more.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @chrislehmann @shareski I think @budtheteacher tweet refers to covering distance fast when we should go deeper.
Chris Lehmann chrislehmann @budtheteacher History is so important. The past has the benefit of perspective. The future is too easily idealized.
Dean Shareski shareski @budtheteacher...how bout a post...most influential posts...I could point to stuff you wrote 2 years ago...yesterday had some good stuff too
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Content is valuable if I can relate it to my learning stage. My mind is not concerned with new vs old per se.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher I imagine. I remember taking a note of it in the chatroom. (And I *did save that ;-)
Bud Hunt budtheteacher Is yesterday's content as valuable as today's? I worry that we're in a big hurry to see the next things - without digging deep into the old.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: That is a pity - I'm fascinated by those type of conversations.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Pity. There was a nice discussion on networks vs communities -whatever makes them different.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: He didn't. I asked - was curious to check in, too.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Thank you. I'm also catching up here. Trying to find today's lunch -too fast for me. Perhaps Dean did not record it.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: Not live. Sorry. Should've been more specific - I'm watching yesterday's news. Today.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Is that live now? It's off air to me.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher Watching Darren @ MB Edubloggercon. Thanks be to UStream. http://tinyurl.com/2dz3an

These tweets were sorrounded (for lack of a better word) by:
-Twitter Direct Message
-a shared Gdoc
-Back to Twitter
-A quick dash to Bud's blog to find this post and quote a line
-Back to Twitter
-direct email Bud to me
-direct answer + chat invite
-Thank you note via Gchat
And I set to write this post.
Irony: Bud has been in my Skype for months and we are both online. Whyever didn't we start there? No answer. It just worked that way.

Or perhaps this is a possible answer: Our thoughts play hopscotch on the web.
Is this *the* way? For our purposes, it seems to work well. Fine. My question is: why should our students do the same?

So much more bouncing on my mind about this. I'd much rather hear your thoughts at this point.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Edublog Awards

Edublog Awards

I thought of writing my thoughts about the Edublog Awards, tag Josie, and possibly obtain her feedback. But it happened the other way about. Josie heard me thinking out loud in Twitter and answered my thoughts on the spot.

I transcribe the conversation and context (to be read in reverse chronological order).

Josephine Fraser josiefraser @fceblog Flatter yes - still recreating those damn silos though http://fraser.typepad.com/s...
Josephine Fraser josiefraser @fceblog - yep, all nominations. Agree nominators need to stay anonymous. Interested in any approach that saves us work :)
English Studio englishstudio @fceblog indeed - I've learnt so much from all of you - whom I've never met in person !!
Claudia Ceraso fceblog Epiphany- All these people so crucial to my learning. Never met f2f. Some never will. Inevitably. f2f is within frontiers. Now we are flat.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @josiefraser Just a thought for suggesting who to look at for nomination. Nomination remains anonymous.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @josiefraser If each award category had a tag (category+07), we could tag our saved fav blogs /subscribe and automatic post to wiki.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @josiefraser Swell! Edublog Awards Nominations via del.icio.us... If it is all nominations, not just shortlist that is a great idea!
Josephine Fraser josiefraser @fceblog - we'll be putting out all nominations via de.licio.us this year, organized by cat for browsing/searching
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @josiefraser I think we all have RSS overload problems. I'd like a wiki to suggest who to nominate. Make the backstage more transparent.
Josephine Fraser josiefraser @fceblog - wiki nominations is such cool idea - we should really look into that for next year. Thanks!
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @coolcatteacher I'd like to see a wiki where teachers drop links under each award category. Not fair to vote people in my RSS only.
Vicki Davis coolcatteacher Edublog award nominations are open - http://tinyurl.com/ypcncx

Thank you Josie for this conversation. Now back to my original thoughts...

Whenever I have landed on a blog bearing an edublog award/nominee badge, I have never been disappointed. It was well worth spending time learning there. If you are completely new to the edublogosphere, past award winners are a great sample of the level of growth achieved in the network.

The blogosphere has grown so much since 2004 when the awards started. We must abandon hopes of keeping up with reading it all, let alone finding gems among newbies on our own. Somehow, the effort of finding, listing and pre-reviewing potential nominees will have to be distributed across the network for the awards to make sense in future editions.

Thinking about nominees, the first names that come to mind are:
a) in my RSS
b) have already won the award

Although I feel a strong impulse to nominate them again, I think these awards should be an opportunity for me to read new bloggers, reflect on the reasons to nominate them and learn something in the process. That is by far a much more engaging topic of conversation for me than who won. That is why I would like a wiki where we can:
a) post prospective nominee blogs
b) discuss valuable contributions

What a learning experience that could be! Collectively writing the rubrics for our own assessment.

Personally, I feel my learning benefits more from my untrimmed RSS than a nominee shortlist; contacts from varied geographical locations and languages. As far as I know, these awards are not reaching beyond the English speaking world, which leaves an important part of my learning network out.
Might I add new people to my network once the results are published?

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

How do I tweet thee? Let me count the ways...

How do I tweet thee? Let me count the ways...

"How is someone writing their diary online, for everyone to read, going to help anyone learn anything? ...Why on earth would I be interested in the minutiae of someone's personal life?

How do you reply to people who feel this way? " -asks Darren Kuropatwa.

My first reaction to Twitter was: let's see what this hype is all about. I had no thoughts for or against it. Plain curious. Being a slow blogger of lengthy posts, I wondered whether the 140 character format could be expressive enough for me. Little did I know.

I gave it a try with a post you read and tweeted. I am forever grateful for that tweet which made several educators start following me. Alan quoted one paragraph to continue the conversation. With his graphs, he took my mind further where I could have never got thinking on my own. That tweet/read/reflect/write/tweet cycle unveiled the clockwork of blogging for me.

"Twitter is like the backchannel of the edublogosphere, but not its replacement" -as Vicky points out. True. But Twitter is a powerful connector underpinning it all. There is no momentous learning or conference these days that is not published in Twitter.

The main advantage I've found from tweeting is reaching a deeper level of conversing and learning. I've been able to get the attention of the bloggers I read and choose to teach me. I had commented on all of their blogs before, but the connection happened via Twitter. This closer link is essential to my learning. I can only make sense of changes if I am engaged. If my thoughts can be at the back of your mind and influence some line in the posts of my teachers, engagement levels soar. Otherwise, I am confined to be stats and flattering audience of a self-referencing network. That's far from our objectives of helping our students become unique contributors to the conversation.

Demystifying experts levels the ground for meaningful contributions to happen. But if there is no two-way interaction, if I cannot see that some tweeted thought of mine can make you think as much as you make me think... what is the difference between reading books and blogs? I think Twitter has been that leveller for me. I do not blog less because I tweet; much on the contrary, I participate more, which is the ultimate purpose of blogging.

Learning online/offline is about creating tailor-made zones of proximal development where you can interact fluently. It's about creating near-togetherness: if we cannot meet f2f, in what other varied ways can I interact with a like-minded learner? When I read a post that blows the top of my head off, I need to connect; grow a network. I seriously doubt blog reading on its own can sustain my learning. I need to meet the blogger.

To me, Twitter is as close as it gets. It's both professional and intimate, yes. I read and exchange on topics that do not always fit an edublog. I get a more complete intellectual and emotional profile of the people I admire. I get a kick out of the many trivial coincidences you find with people who see eye to eye in educational matters. I think that the day I meet those friends f2f, we'll talk about many things blogged, but many more things tweeted.

Apart from flat classrooms, we'll discuss nachos/asados with David, world dominance with Steve and perhaps tango with you, Darren. How bloggable are these topics in our edublogs? No, that's for silly Twitter. Now tell me, how much do those little things contribute to creating a proximal, friendly zone where you feel learning is unforced and a natural consequence of being there? How crucial is that to networking when homophily is so instrumental in forging connectedness?
Many have thought Twitter can be used in the classroom. I still do not know if we need that tool. Not until we can explain what we can achieve with it that could not be done otherwise. Yet what I have learnt in Twitter School necessarily makes me reflect on classroom practices from a student's perspective. In my blog, I am the expert on my own point of view. In my classroom, I may be an expert in my area. In Twitter I can only be one more learner. Networked and engaged. I am experiencing first hand the participation path I would like to unlock for my most silent students.

This is just how Twitter works for me. There are countless other ways. Here a mosaic:

Image credit:
Beauty=truth, etc.

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