Tag: network

HOWTO: Roll your own #twebay

Having sold individual things sporadically via Twitter (usually after mentioning I was about to put them on eBay) and finding myself needing to raise funds for a rather magnificent Sony Vaio P series,  I thought it was about time I developed a system. Enter #twebay.

(I hate the elision of ‘Twitter’ and ‘eBay’ as much as you, but it’s a convenient hypocrisy…)

Here’s what I did:

1. Set up and published a Google Doc and passed it through Bit.ly Pro to get http://dajb.eu/twebay. This includes my details (including avatar and photo), a rationale for selling, and details of the items.

2. Configured and tested a Google Form (via Google Docs) to collect information from those interested. I figured the important information was the person’s name, email address, bid amount and a box for any other details they wanted to give me.

3. Publicised it and asked for retweets.

4. Checked the spreadsheet attached to the Google Form at regular intervals and replied to those making bids.

I managed to sell 3 items within an hour with an additional one that I’d forgotten later in the week. These were all to people who I’ve known a while on Twitter but I’ve never met in person.

The advantages of this method?

  • No eBay/Paypal fees
  • Buyer knows it’s going to a good home, seller knows where it’s come from
  • Time spent listing items for sale is massively reduced

Possible drawbacks?

  • You need a fair number of followers to gain traction/interest
  • There’s no formal feedback system
  • There’s potential to damage existing relationships when money becomes involved

Ignore everybody.

There are blog posts I plan in advance and there are those that happen as a result of serendipity and need blogging straight away. This is very much one of the latter. :-p

Earlier this week I was following with interest the tweets of Jenny Luca, an Australian educator, as she sat in the audience during one of Stephen Downes‘ presentations. Before the whole thing even started, she overheard Downes:

Jenny Luca - tweet

In her next tweet she simply wondered how that squared with connectivism, a learning theory of which Downes is an advocate. I thought up several responses, but didn’t have time to get into a debate and so kep them to myself. Jenny’s reflections on the event, if you’re interested, are here. That particular event isn’t the focus of this post. 🙂

Today, during an Easter Sunday afternoon in which I’d run out of things to fill my leisure time, I turned to my feed reader and came across this from Hugh McLeod:

Ignore Everybody

It’s actually a remixed (and, to be honest, improved) version of an original by Patrick Brennan.

These two coming so closely together made me reflect upon my online interactions. Now, before I go any further I need to point out very explicitly and clearly that I greatly value the interactions and conversations I have with individuals. I’m certainly not aiming to devalue that in what I’m about to say.

The power in a network comes from the amplification of individual contributions and connections to make it more than the sum of its parts.

I think this is may be where Downes was coming from in terms of ‘following topics not people’ on Twitter and where McLeod (via Brennan) means r.e. ignore everybody.

  • Yes, you need to learn the heuristics of the network.
  • Yes, you need to capture the zeitgeist.
  • Yes, you have be able to argue for your point of view.

…but when it comes down to it, you need to be your own person, using the network for your own ends. Not in some manipulative, Machiavellian sense, but in a ‘give-and-take’ way that means that the network truly does become more than the sum of its parts. 😀

The Big E-Learning Questions

Northumberland Church of England Academy - ICT Vision

Northumberland Church of England Academy’s ICT vision statement, as seen by Wordle

Further to my previous blog post setting out what I was going to do at interview, I’m delighted to report that I was successful! Many thanks to my Twitter network for their support. As of next academic year (September 2009) I shall be ‘Director of E-Learning’ at Northumberland Church of England Academy.

This is a significant promotion for me and, as the Academy comes into existence as I assume the role, means I’ve got (almost) a blank slate with which to work. Hence the need for me to have a clear and coherent plan as to the E-Learning ecosystem I want to create.

I’m embarking on a series of blog posts over the Easter holiday period which, provisionally, I’m going to title:

  1. Attendance: what are the pros and cons of SIMS, Serco and Phoenix?
  2. Behaviour: what are the e-options for real-time monitoring and tracking of student behaviour?
  3. Communication: which tools are available to enable anyone within an organization be able to appropriately communicate and collaborate with anyone else?
  4. Design: what are the standards upon which pedagogically-sound learning design can be constructed?
  5. Engagement: which technologies lead to confident engagement in learning?

I have perhaps phrased some of the above clumsily so I’d welcome your feedback! 🙂

edte.ch barnraising: get involved in forming a community!

The edublogosphere is a wonderful place. It’s a place that’s grown almost exponentially since I joined it 3 years ago, making it a wonderfully diverse arena for discourse. 🙂

However, sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. How do you get in touch and interact with those facing similar situations and challenges as yourself? In addition to a network, there’s a need for groups.

Enter edte.ch. As I’ve already discussed, edte.ch is to be a place for educational technology professionals and students. I’ve no financial interest in the project: I’m acting as domain name owner, facilitator, and contributor. 😀

I want it to be a grassroots community, a place for postgraduate students to find people to bounce ideas off, an arena for instructional technologists to discuss barriers and opportunities. But I need YOUR help to get this off the ground.

  1. If you’re an educational technology professional or student, imagine the type of community to which you’d like to belong.
  2. Imagine how you’d interact with that community.
  3. Contribute your ideas to the barnraising section of edte.ch
  4. (optional) Share links to good stuff at http://friendfeed.com/rooms/edtech
  5. (optional) Get involved in a synchronous chat towards the end of the week (to be organized) about the future of edte.ch

Although I’ve obviously got my own ideas, I don’t want to be overly-prescriptive. I’m a great believer in the ability of people to organise themselves on a grassroots level. I’ve already been contacted by a great number of people who would seem to be in need of something like this. I know I am – let’s make it work! :-p

*Wondering what I mean by ‘barnraising’? It’s a predominantly Amish practice and a two-day event where the community comes together to build a barn. I first came across this in the film Witness.

I’ve started using Twitter with my pupils…

Twitter birdMy Year 11 (15-16 year old) History groups – the ones who blog, can use a wiki (until Wikispaces became unavailable/unusable through the school network), use Google Apps for Education and on occasion submit YouTube videos instead of essays are now Twittering.

It’s about time: I’ve been talking about doing this for over a year now, and even suggested 3 different ways Twitter could be used in the classroom. So, over at my new (Google Sites-powered) Y11 History revision wiki I’ve shown my pupils (in great detail) how to go about signing up for their own Twitter accounts.

Usually, Twitter’s a fairly open-ended thing, with each user as a node on a (potentially) huge network. ‘The network’ is actually a series of larger and smaller sub-networks which are linked together by ‘bridge’ users. A little like a large wireless network, in fact. :-p

Twitter network (image credit)

But that’s not how I wanted to use Twitter with my students. Not yet, anyway. I had intended to use the promising-looking Edmodo but, after discussions with Jeff O’Hara discovered it wouldn’t be ready until after my Year 11s go on study leave. I need a closed network, at least at first. At the moment – and during this trial period whilst they’re revising for examinations – I want something like the situation exemplified by this image that I included in that blog post last year:

Twitter - Scenario 1

So far, each group has spent one lesson in the ICT suite making sure their @mrbelshaw.co.uk Google Apps for Education accounts work, getting acquainted with the new revision wiki and signing up for Twitter. The test posts from myself to their mobile devices go ahead this week and we shall hopefully iron out any problems next week.

Issues so far:

  • I wanted to have a separate Twitter account for each group. However, as I can only link my mobile phone to one Twitter account this was not a good solution. I’ve therefore been forced to have one account that will be used with both groups.
  • Putting +44 in front of their mobile numbers and missing off the zero caused some problems, even amongst the more able and digitally-literrate pupils who read all my instructions!
  • Network connection issues and Javascript error messages due to school-based problems.

Hopefully this will tie in with a Becta/Historical Association-funded project of which I’m an associate member. More on that and how my pupils get on with Twitter next week! 😀

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