Monday, 28 October 2013

Attwicted to Learning

I had a laugh tonight going through a list of Twitter slang. I think I'm "attwicted"; but it's because I'm addicted to learning. And I like learning with others.
Twitter has become my short read. Instead of the paper or the Listener on a Saturday morning, I'll lie in bed and go through the tweets. Usually the main news is highlighted by the media news accounts and interesting issues are retweeted and commented on by some of the people I follow. Another dimension is added: discussion with other tweeps. Most of the folk I follow are fellow educators, so a lot of articles and links to resources become subjects for conversations too.

I've also found that it's possible to become a source of news or even an editor. I've tweeted @melissa_stokes in the ad break of a news broadcast about an error and had her reply that she'd get it fixed!

Twitter has become my main source of learning and keeping up with what's going on in the world and especially the world of education. I curate what I find with Evernote - and I even occasionally go back to check out my cache. 

I take notes on Twitter. Yes, I could use a Google doc, but I love sharing the learning and waiting to see if an idea will be challenged or added to. Take the writing workshop I attended two weeks ago. An eminent and respected guru of writing, she stated that research proved boys' and girls' brains were wired differently. "Really?" I thought, "I wonder what that research is?" And I asked that question of the Twitterverse as I sat there and got an instant reaction:

I collate the notes I tweet using Storify, which has a great embed option to show the tweets as a slideshow. Useful if you want to flick quickly to a point. And that's another point: each idea must be encapsulated in a neat 140 character block. There's something satisfying about succeeding in turning an idea into a pithy epithet.

The associated link is like unwrapping a gift - the tweet gives a taster of the goodies you are going to find. And it is a gift. Twitter is free and Twiducators share their wares unselfishly. Just for the cost of your data.

Collaboration is a huge benefit of Twitter. I've learned to do #timelapse photography by sharing ideas with tweeps like @dakinane, which have then led to school collaborations across the country, like #nzschooltimelapse . Around the globe, educators are conversing at set times on a range of topics. Every second Thursday at 8.30pm, educators get together to talk on #edchatnz. Students can now connect on #kidsedchatnz on a Wednesday too.

I've had a lot of fun with Twitter. There was the day I decided to use it as a #lazyweb and asked for advice on processing feijoas. A #feijoafrenzy began, recipes, ideas, photos all shared amongst a great deal of bonhomie. My freezer was packed with feijoas and the day filled with a lot of shared laughter, even if it was by hashtag!  Seems I wasn't alone in enjoying the fruit.

Meeting tweeps face to face is amazing. You can go from a conversation online to meeting them f2f for the first time and continuing that conversation as if you'd been in the room together and old buddies. Funnily enough, we have a connection that goes further than a smartphone. The highlight of Ulearn13 for me was meeting up with so many of these "old buddies". I can now sit in a waiting room or even alone at a cafe and not feel friendless! (And sometimes the tweep gets to sit in the cafe too, rather than just at the end of the phone.)

I found out at Ulearn13 that it's not just connection, communication and collaboration...there's also a little bit of competitive tweeting possible, all in good fun.  Nothing like getting a hashtag trending...

Hmmm - enough said about that!

Why is this all so important? Well for me it mean I'm already entering the future we are building with our children. The New Zealand Curriculum document, which has now been out since 2007, states:
NZ Curriculum, page 36
The last paragraph intrigues me as much as Captain Kirk's lines, "Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man (one) has gone before." Now, six years after the document came out, I can see some of the new and different ways of learning.

I challenge you "to boldly go", to explore and find out for yourself.
Tweeting perhaps?