Tag Archives: Twitter

Staff development: reciprocal link between feedback and encouragement

After helping organise a staff development day about 21st C Learning (more about that later), I find myself musing on the link between feedback and encouragement as reciprocal actions.

This was a day with mixed ability and experience staff, all encouraged to take the next step up on their education technology skills ladder. They did this in groups, led by a colleague who is more experienced.

Usually what happens with these ‘traditional-style’ staff development sessions is that a survey is sent the next week to staff (the ‘happy sheets‘). Did you find this useful? That’s interesting but not as interesting as Continue reading

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Tour de Moodle

Last week Friday I started a fun little Twitter event called Tour de Moodle. Interested in seeing other people’s Moodle setups, layouts and themes, I asked people to share a link to their Moodle homepage.

Tour de Moodle tweetout

Tour de Moodle tweetout

I thought it would be a perfect end-of-year activity, but last weekend was embarrasingly quiet (cue: tumbleweeds). However, after a week the Tour de Moodle now seems to be getting a little traction (thanks to @adzebill, @moodleman, @moodlerific, @dafyddhumphreys and @joseph_thibault).

You can see the stops the Tour de Moodle has made so far at What the Hashtag (my favourite twitter archiver at the moment): http://wthashtag.com/Tourdemoodle

Participating is easy, just send out a tweet including:

  • a link to your organisation’s Moodle homepage
  • the hashtag #tourdemoodle
  • the hashtag #moodle
  • optional: “Pls share yr Moodle too”

Looking forward to watching your Moodles race by! Currently the yellow jersey holder is @kineoopensource.

Tour de Moodle

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WPTouch – who’s a clever little plugin then?

I love serendipitous learning. This week I followed the ASCILITE Conference held in Auckland on Twitter (am still kicking myself for not being there). There’s many thoughts, links & ideas I need to follow up on with regards to education technology in higher education. But what I love about  the powered up information exchange between people who share a passion that builds around an event like this, is the accidental or perhaps offhand tips that get shared that otherwise you’d never find out about.

An example of this today was a Twitter exchange between James Clay & Mark Smithers. Although they were discussing the role of IT departments in higher education, in passing James suggested that Mark install WPTouch for WordPress so his blog would render better on an iPhone.


I hadn’t optimised my blog yet so decided to install WPTouch as well. It took me about 5 seconds to install and it makes my site look just shiny on the iPhone. Thanks James!



Over the next few months I will be testing an iPhone for work. They’ve asked me to make a project out of it, so I’ll blog about issues & opportunities I encounter in iPhone use here. This is now my first post for this project – check!

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Citing & Archiving #opened09 Tweets

The leading thinkers on Open Education gathered in Vancouver last week for the OpenEd09 conference.  It was a sight & sound to behold – an open storm. Ustreams, Flickr pics and a Twitter avalanche, meant many of us around the world felt part of the event, as virtual attendees. (I got up at 4am in New Zealand on Saturday, to watch the Friday keynote at 9am Vancouver time.)

Social media are such an extension of conferences and events. Pre-social media we used to hear from the 15-20 selected speakers at a conference. And probably about the bunions of the man you were unfortunate enough to sit down next to at lunch and were unable to ditch. Now we can hear from everyone at the conference, and select those we want to hear more from. For 6 days, the #opened09 column in my Tweetdeck dispensed precious ideas & information. I began following new people, feverishly bookmarking urls and favouriting tweets for follow-up.

my #opened09 fav tweets in Tweetdeck

my #opened09 fav tweets in Tweetdeck

And that’s where I hit a snag – the tweets.

1. My favourite tweets don’t make much sense without the context of the other tweets. And unfortunately, the Twitter search is ephemeral and will not let you retrieve those later. It’ll let you set extensive date parameters, but these don’t give you the desired results.  This was a harsh lesson from  the EDUCAUSE Australasia conference in Perth this year, which was one of the first well-tweeted events I attended. We lost a lot of witty and valuable tweets…

2. And a more academic problem –  some #opened09 tweets are such gems, I’ll likely want to quote and re-quote them. How do I give credit where credit is due and correctly reference a tweet?

But then I came across Gunther Eysenbach How to cite twitter, how to cite tweets, how to archive tweets which solves both problems. In it he gives a detailed how-to of the WebCite service which not only gives you the correct reference for a website, but perhaps more importantly, also creates a permanent archive for that site. And it works for tweets too.

So I can reference and archive Scott Leslie’s individual tweet like this:

A favourite opened09 tweet by Scott Leslie

A favourite opened09 tweet by Scott Leslie

Leslie, Scott. Twitter / Scott Leslie: are you supposed to get ch… . 2009-08-18. URL:http://twitter.com/sleslie/statuses/3310928225. Accessed: 2009-08-18. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5j7I0nnKZ)

or the entire Twitter stream for the #opened09 hashtag like this:

[Multiple Authors]. #opened09 – Twitter Search. . 2009-08-18. URL:http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23opened09. Accessed: 2009-08-18. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5j79icRhc)

These archived tweets are now static at WebCite so they can be referred to and retrieved. Of course, that was 2 hours ago. The #opened09-ers go on. Even as I’ve been writing this post, the Twitter search tab is showing 7 new results ‘since you started searching’…

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Gateway Tools for Teachers

This is a post about teaching teachers tools. I know, I know, of course the adoption of educational technology should be driven by possible enhancements in teaching & learning, not by the ‘shininess’ of new tools. But in my experience, there is a group of teachers for who certain tools can work like a gateway drug:  e-learning gateway tools.

If you are a technology integrator, e-learning trainer, ed tech staff developer, pay attention:  introducing these gateway tools can give you some ‘easy wins’ – even better, these teachers can become your most ardent e-learning champions.

Not everyone’s a geek

For those of us who consider ourselves ‘connected’, trialling a new tool or technology comes as natural as breathing. Here are just 2 likely scenarios:

  1. We know the learning activity we want to create. We find one or several tools that will facilitate that activity. These are tools we already know, or discover through our PLN. We test them and pick the one best suited to achieve our learning need.
  2. We encounter a tool, again probably through our PLN, and consider how it can be used in a learning activity. We then either create the activity or store it for future reference.

This week several colleagues and Kim Cofino’s Tips for Technology Integrators post reminded me off the realism of our workplace. Newsflash: not everyone’s a geek like us.

About 65% of of my role as e-learning advisor is e-learning staff development (including pedagogy, Moodle training, instructional design, really everything but the kitchen sink).  Very rarely do I get to work with the innovators & early adopters – those who will play, experiment, tinker, and make tools do cartwheels to see how they can be used for teaching & learning . I chat to them over morning coffee (and via Twitter, Facebook and their blogs), but they don’t need my support. I tend to work with academic staff, managers and allied staff,  in the early & late majority.

A graph of Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

A graph of Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

The Understandably Cynical

In my experience, there is a subset of teachers in that early/late majority category, that we can call the Understandably Cynical.

  1. They are committed to their students’ learning experience,
  2. They are satisfied with their current teaching approach but do experiment with new techniques,
  3. Their computer & digital literacy is low to medium,
  4. The addition of technology in their daily work mix , eg email, has not made their work easier or faster,
  5. Their time is precious, split between teaching, research and a life,
  6. They perceive time spent online establishing social networks or  ‘playing’ with new tools, as wasted,
  7. They don’t want to burden students with new tools unnecessarily,
  8. They appreciate their privacy.

In short, they are great teachers, whatever they are doing is already working, they’re open to new ideas, they’re busy and past experiences with technology have been a hindrance, not a benefit to them.  They are Understandably Cynical.

For this group of teachers, I’ve found that providing them with gateway tools can start them adding the use of technology to their teaching arsenal.

What are gateway tools?

Gateway tools are like gateway drugs – they open the door to the serious stuff.

Characteristics of an e-learning gateway tool:

  1. Solves a problem (eg size or access)
  2. Builds on existing collections
  3. Saves time
  4. Is easy to use
  5. Is immediately useful in the classroom
  6. Has passive social functionality
  7. Can be the start of a teacher’s PLN – although the previous characteristics may fire a teacher’s engine, this is the turbo boost.

Examples of gateway tools

Here are two examples of gateway tools, Slideshare & Delicious.


1. Solves a problem – makes PowerPoint files smaller and easily accessible from anywhere, freeing a teacher from the localised shared drive.

2. Builds on existing collections – you can use PowerPoints files you already have.

3. Saves time – a search on Slideshare can provide you with inspiration for your own lecture or lesson, or even provide you with a complete lesson structure.

4. Is easy to use – to make use of Slideshare resources, takes no more than simple search skills. Uploading your own resources is akin to attaching a file to an email.

5. Is immediately useful in the classroom – once a presentation is uploaded, it can be accessed in the classroom during the lesson and remains available for access & download for students later.

6. Has passive social functionality – unlike some other Web2.0/social media tools, Slideshare does not require you to be socially active,  invest in building a network or give out too much personal information, for it to be useful.

7. Can be the start of a teacher’s PLN – although Slideshare does not require social activity, it will expose teachers to other teachers/experts who share their interest. Those friend requests can be hard to deny…


1. Solves a problem (eg size or access) – many people still save their bookmarks in the browser on their computer. This means when you leave your desk to go teach in a classroom, you don’t have access to those bookmarks. Storing bookmarks online lets you use them wherever you have internet access.

2. Builds on existing collections – it’s easy to import your existing bookmarks into delicious.
3. Saves time – using delicious & it’s useful tags & description function, can really speed up how fast you can refind ‘that one’ site. No more roaming through endless folders. Install the delicious buttons and bookmark new sites with one click.

4. Is easy to use – as stated, the delicious buttons turn it into a 1-click system. And to make use of other people’s bookmarks, takes no more than simple search skills.

5. Is immediately useful in the classroom – you now have all your bookmarks in not just one classroom, but in every room you teach in. And that makes you a lot more flexible. A student asks a question? Mmm, I’m sure I bookmarked a site that had an interesting take on that…

6. Has passive social functionality – like Slideshare, Delicious does not require you to be socially active, invest in building a network or give out too much personal information, for it to be useful. You can’t even upload a profile picture.

7. Can be the start of a teacher’s PLN – again, although Delicious does not require social activity, you can’t help but run into useful resources shared by its many users. And once you find a user who shares links about your interests, you may want to find out what else they are sharing, on their blog, on Twitter, or elsewhere…

I’ve had moderate success introducing teachers to the tools above. If you have had success introducing teachers or colleagues to other e-learning gateway tools, I’d love to hear about it.

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My Twitter Mosaic

I’ve just transferred my blog from Edublogs to this new location. The last post on the old blog was about Twitter Mosaic. Unfortunately the mosaic was a. broken and b. hopelessly out of date. So yes I’m re-hashing an old post, but it’s for a reason.

A Twitter Mosaic is easy to create. Just type your Twitter username, choose between Twitter Followers or Twitter Friends and the site creates a mosaic out of their avatars. You can then edit it, removing those you don’t want (you may follow @BBCNews but it’s not really your friend, is it?) and your mosaic is done.

You can copy & past the code to embed it in a website. But of course, the clever people at Twitter Mosaic are also willing to print it on cards, mugs, bags, mouse pads and t-shirts.

I will admit I am sorely tempted by the mug so I could take my PLN to morning tea with me. (Obviously with only my tablet pc and my iPhone, I don’t come across as nearly geeky enough in the staff room). However last time I checked it came down to NZ$60 incl shipping. Apparently printing anything Twitter-related on anything, is still good business.

Get your twitter mosaic here.

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Wordle Fun

Friday evening, Project Runway on tv, lappie on the couch. Time to play.

Had some fun with Wordle. After playing with TweetStats yesterday, wanted to get those tags and use them in Wordle. Unfortunately they weren’t weighted. So result is a bit bland but still fun.

Wordle is set up to link with del.icio.us and because it does weight those tags, the result is much more impressive!

Embedding in a blog post requires a little editing of embed code – need to take out all the spaces.

Could be used to introduce a topic in class? As result of a discussion thread?

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How it feels to be a Twitku Champ

Only just found out (start of the academic year down under and swamped with course requests & staff support, I’ve been blocking out blogosphere and the twitterverse) but absolutely thrilled to be named Twitku champ. Twitku is one of my favourite Twitter projects and aching to show it to our teachers as I think it could be a neat in-class project for our ESOL students.

All that is a long-winded way of saying:

thanx/@twitku/575 xj

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Sensible Stalking

Peter Rock questions Twitter’s worth as a tool and Alec Couros invited us to chip in. So here’s my 2c.

Twitter is what you make it through sensible stalking. Who you are following and who is following you is critical to the quality of your Twitter experience.

Choose people who are exploring your field of interest (Wenger’s domain?) and pertinent thoughts, tools & technologies will come flying at you at the speed of light. You’ll make new contacts through them and hear just-in-time when events (webcasts, live conferences, or f2f conferences) are happening. It’s even possible to attend F2F conferences vicariously, as the edutwitterers discovered with this weekend’s Educon2.0. Additionally your followers are an informed peer group that can provide insightful answers to your questions.

But stalk sensibly, or end up reading a lot of “what i’m having for breakfast” tweets.

To find out who is tweeting about your interests, use a Twitter search engine like Terraminds.

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The network is real or what Will Richardson is to me

What Will Richardson is to me:

  • 3 Months ago – the author of a book I’ve read many times and a blog that I follow weekly. So disappointed I didn’t get to meet him in person when he was in New Zealand in 2006. Will never get that chance again.
  • 1 Month ago (post-Twitter) – a fellow Twitterer whose daily tweets on ed tech are always interesting. I now also know what his kids are up to.
  • Today – someone I’ve collaborated with on a wiki.

Tomorrow Will is presenting to a large group of teachers and wants them to “walk away understanding the power of connections that can reach far beyond the classroom.” To this end he has asked his network to chip in and leave their best tip on a wiki. Read about it on Weblogg-ed and leave your bit.

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