Tag Archives: social media

Warm in Manitoba


(CC BY-NC 2.0) haglundc

Here in Winnipeg we’ve had days and days of -30 degree temperatures, but this week I found a hot spot in Manitoba–#mbedchat. I’m still fairly low on the social media learning curve, and this was my first Twitter chat, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Doing something new always comes with a degree of nerves or uncertainty. As a teacher I’m learning to embrace those feelings because 1. they are simply part of learning (and I want to be a life-long learner) 2. I expect students to handle these feelings on a daily basis, and I’d like to credibly empathize with and support them in their learning. It was time to take the next step on Twitter and in my personal/professional development and join a Twitter Chat.

Even though I know the group wasn’t huge, the pace of the tweets was quick for me at first. I was working with HootSuite for the first time and trying to follow etiquette as well as I could. After the first 10 or 15 minutes, I settled down, stopped obsessing about perfect tweets, and started enjoying the electricity that always seems to generate when passionate teachers get together. During a lengthy cold spell, it isn’t unusual to hear complaints about Manitoba, but 60 minutes with a dozen Manitoba educators melted any negativity and rekindled my Manitoba pride. These dedicated, generous folks left me with tabs full of great resources, confidence that my children are in excellent hands, and renewed energy for the next teaching day that comes from knowing that you belong to something important and so much bigger than yourself. That is quite a pay off for the small price of overcoming a few nerves and trying something new. Thank you #mbedchat.

So, if you haven’t yet tried a twitter chat, I’d encourage you to give it a go. Jerry Blumengarten (aka Cybraryman) has a great resource page to help you get started. The page includes a link to an extensive list of chats, so you’re sure to find a chat that fits you. I don’t want to oversell, but after weeks of frigid temps, the deepfreeze finally broke–right after #mbedchat. Coincidence? Try your first Twitter chat and then you be the judge.



January 12, 2014 · 9:46 pm

Clearer Skies Ahead


(CC BY 2.0) eldh

Recently, during an online conversation about the existence of a generational divide in the Twitterverse, @d_mulder expressed interest in what I was doing with Twitter for my students. The honest answer? Not much. I’ll elaborate.

This semester I polled 50 students (grades 11 and 12) about their use of Facebook and Twitter. Ninety-eight percent (49 of 50) are Facebook users. Twitter is used by 44 of the 50. Where the poll gets interesting to me is when the students revealed their perceived audience. Almost every Facebook user polled professed to having adults as Friends and using a variety of settings to control which friends could see specific content. However, only one of the 44 Twitter users had their tweets protected, and none of the users connected with adults on Twitter.

Finally, I asked them to consider the differences, if any, in the content they posted on Facebook and Twitter. That’s when the squirming started (for some). Some confessed that their Twitter content was a bit less “adult friendly” than their Facebook posts. When I asked why, one student actually said, “Because our parents can’t see what we do on Twitter,” and then, when I gave a look of surprise and ‘oh, yeah?!’ quickly revised the statement with, “well, they probably won’t see what’s on Twitter.” This attitude makes sense considering that 40 of the students knew at least one parent is on Facebook while only one student thought his dad might be on Twitter.

This knowledge has me very cautious about invading what my students see as their space (Twitter) and quite determined to teach and model digital citizenship. I’ve tried to be clear about how Twitter is a public space unless tweets are protected. We’ve discussed the use of multiple accounts (one for more casual content and one for school), but that model has limitations as well. George Couros has an excellent post on the difference between personal&professional versus public&private.

I prefer the private/public model when teaching and modelling for students. I try to have Circles of Publicthem think of concentric circles of privacy. The innermost circle is the most private–stuff between me and God. As the circles widen, so does the public audience, so my next circle includes only my wife. This is an audience of one, but an audience nevertheless. As the audience grows, I need to adjust what I’m willing to say/do/post in order to respect the boundaries of both myself and the people who may encounter my words/actions.

Now if only I could get more students to really believe how broad the circle is where Twitter’s audience resides. Then I’d worry less about them submarining opportunities like this college hopeful,  and I’d be able to more effectively hone their citizenship skills (face to face and online). But, the high and low pressure systems that are the teenager’s “personal” and (mostly non-existent) “professional” Twitter accounts still make for stormy weather when they collide.

For example, last month I thought I’d send a student a friendly reminder. Strangely, I didn’t have her email address, but I knew she was on Twitter. I hesitated and then thought better of the tweet, abundantly cautious about her boundaries. I asked her the next day if she would have appreciated the reminder or if it would have been weird to get a tweet from a teacher. “That wouldn’t be weird at all. I would have loved a reminder,” she said, but after a millisecond of hesitation, continued, “just don’t read my tweets, though.”

*Sigh* I’m teaching to ensure clearer skies ahead.


December 26, 2013 · 4:40 pm