Tag: Twitter (page 8 of 11)

Interesting ways to use Twitter in the classroom

After a suggestion received, quite fittingly, from another Twitter user, Tom Barrett is weaving his magic again. This time, after getting educators to collaborate on ways in which Interactive Whiteboards, Google Earth, Google Docs, and Pocket Video Cameras can be used in education he’s turned his (and his network’s) sights on Twitter:

I got involved straight away – in fact mine’s the first tip on there! Get involved by contacting Tom (@tombarrett) 🙂

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‘Following’ me on Twitter? These people are!

I’m @dajbelshaw on Twitter. If you’re not following me then you’re missing out on links and conversation. Here’s my followers (so far!):

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BETT 2009, TeachMeet & and iPhone misfortunes

(photos from the TeachMeet BETT 2009 Flickr pool)

I’m on the train back from BETT 2009. I did my 5-minute slot on using Linux-powered netbooks as part of an Open Source Schools presentation this morning, the reason for my visit. In total, I only managed about 30 minutes ‘on the floor’ visiting stands. That suited me fine! 😉

The rest of the time I spent meeting people I only knew online through Twitter, etc., new folk and those I know both online and offline. I only just got to London Olympia in time for TeachMeet due to a combination of the Piccadilly Line being useless and my losing iPhone at the BETT registration desk. Fortunately, it was handed in to the conference organizers in perfect condition! As soon as I entered the room I recognised lots of edtech people – José Picardo, Lisa Stevens, Tom Barrett, Joe Rowing, Dai Barnes, Josie Fraser, Ollie Bray, the list went on and on…

What really pleased me more than people just coming up and introducing themselves as being the real-world version of what I only knew as online avatars, but those who came to thank me. One, Chris from gr8ict.com thanked me for a guide to ripping DVDs I produced during my teacher training in 2004/5! It’s always nice to find out that what you’ve  done has been worthwhile and made a difference. 🙂

TeachMeet was even bigger and better than that at BETT last year. Hats off to the organizers (including Ian Usher and Drew Buddie) for that! There was a screen dedicated to online activity (tweets, blog posts, etc.) that contained hashtags (such as #tmbett09) relating to the TeachMeet, tracked using Monitter. Ian Usher announced at one point during proceedings that it was the fourth most popular hashtag on the whole of Twitter at that point! 😀

I’m not going to go into detail about who presented on what at the TeachMeet. Suffice to say that I got a chance to plug EdTechRoundup‘s weekly FlashMeetings, Ian Stuart presented virtually from Islay on Education2020, and I discovered the following websites and resources:

  • MirandaNet’s Braided Learning E-Journal – looks like a handy professional development resource.
  • Mathtrain – an Maths website using screencasts produced using TechSmith‘s excellent Jing application.
  • NATE: making hard topics easier to teach with ICT – The National Association for the Teaching of English’s excellent microsite with great examples of using ICT to enhance learning.
  • TeachingMusic.org.uk – This is a website to connect music teachers and encourage them to use Web 2.0 applications. David Ashworth made me laugh by asking the audience to raise their hand if they were a music teacher. No-one did. He then produced the quote of BETT 2009: “See! That goes to show what I’m dealing with here. We’re not talking Lego here, we’re talking Duplo.” Classic!
  • Learning Event Generator – this is a great idea from the new tools website – gives something to do and then a way to do it (randomly). Good for ‘outside the box’ ideas!
  • Comicbrush – Ollie Bray showed the ways he’s been using this application to create cartoon-like images, somewhat similar to Comic Life for the Mac. The 3 witches scene from Macbeth in Manga and text speak? Quality!

The TeachMeet09 BETT wiki has links provided by both those who did and did not get a chance to present. The above links are only my highlights. :-p

After TeachMeet there was TeachEat at Pizza Express, where I sat, I’m a little ashamed to say, with those I already knew rather than making new acquaintances. Must. Do. Better. Still, it was a good laugh and, sitting with the Open Source Schools co-presenters allowed us to talk for the first time face-to-face what we had only discussed online up to that point.

This morning, Miles Berry, Michelle Walters, José Picardo and I presented on the Becta-funded Open Source Schools project. As soon as the presentation – too large to upload via on-train wi-fi – is uploaded, it will appear embedded below…

I think it went well. People certainly seemed very interested and plenty came to ask lots of questions afterwards. I then stayed on for Terry Freedman and Miles Berry‘s presentation What are your students learning when you’re not looking? Miles’ literature review was excellent, and will definitely help inform my Ed.D. studies. Their presentation, they assured the audience, will appear on their respective blogs. 😀

A cursory glance around the area nearby the Club Room in which we’d been presenting with Richard Woofenden, fellow History teacher, was followed with a meeting with a couple of representatives from the BBC. They’d recorded our Open Source Schools presentation and want to work with us in developing an exciting new section of the BBC website about Open Source Schools. More details to follow in subsequent blog posts!

Straight after that I met the inimitable Drew Buddie and was shocked to see his the cracked screen on his iPhone. Somebody had accidentally stood on it when it was in his coat pocket when it was on the floor during TeachMeet. 🙁

Finally, I remembered that my Head had asked if I could look at any new technologies that would make registration at our (proposed) new VI Form easier. I managed to (just) have time to visit Aurora, providers of a biometric facial recognition system. Although it may seem somewhat paradoxical given the amount of my life I share online, I’m very much pro-privacy, so I’m still in two minds as to whether to pass details on to my Head. We’ll see…

Overall, my experience of London was much more positive than usual – probably because I spent most of my time conversing, thinking, and linking! 😀

The problem(s) of 21st century literacy/ies

I’d really appreciate it if you tagged anything related to this post or topic literacyconversation.  It will help me (and others) collate ideas and conversations. Thanks! 🙂

As most people reading this will already know, I’m studying towards an Ed.D. at the moment. My (tentative) thesis title is What does it mean to be ‘educated’ and ‘digitally literate’? The impact of ICT and the knowledge society upon education in the 21st century.. You can find my thesis proposal here and bookmarks related to my studies here. My current thinking is that I’m just going to focus on the concept of what ‘literacy’ means in the 21st century as it’s a huge and confused (confusing?) field.

Because of my studies and deep interest in this field, I was delighted to come across Ben Grey’s blog post entitled 21st Century Confusion, which he followed up with 21st Century Clarification. Ben’s an eloquent and nuanced writer, so I suggest you go and read what he has to say before continuing with this blog post. 😀

The above blog posts sparked a great conversation on Twitter, of which I was part. The hugely influential Will Richardson suggested, as we were getting a little frustrated with being limited to 140 characters, that we have a live session via Elluminate the following day. You can find a link to the archived session here.

My own thoughts about that skillset/mindset/ability range we’re trying to quantify and describe by using terms such as ‘digital’ or ’21st century’ literacy are still a little jumbled. I’ve read, and am continuing to read a lot on the subject (and related areas), notes on which you can find on my wiki.

For now, though, here’s some highlights:

1. Literacies as ‘umbrella terms’

Many of the literacies or ‘competencies’ that are being put forward are described in ways that suggest they incorporate other literacies. Take for instance, this definition of ‘information competence’ (Work Group…, 1995):

Information competence is the fusing or the integration of library literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, technological literacy, ethics, critical thinking, and communication skills.

And again (Doyle, 1994)

In the last decade a variety of “literacies” have been proposed, including cultural, computer, scientific, technical, global and mathematical. All of these literacies focus on a compartmentalized aspect of literacy. Information literacy, on the other hand, is an inclusive term. Through information literacy, the other literacies can be achieved (Breivik, 1991). In attaining information literacy, students gain proficiency in inquiry as they learn to interpret and use information (Kuhlthau, 1987).

Ryan Bretag’s post, The Great Literacy Debate, introduced me to a word to describe this that I hadn’t come across before – deictic. This means that ‘literacy’ tends to be used in a way heavily dependent upon context. I couldn’t agree more!

2. Literacies defined too broadly or narrowly

As referenced above, if a type of literacy being put forward by an individual is defined too broadly, it becomes an umbrella term and of little practical use. Initially, I liked Judi Epcke’s comment that she’d heard Jason Ohler define literacy as “consuming and producing the media forms of the day”. But this began to trouble me. Aren’t consuming and producing different skills? And if they’re skills, is ‘literacy’ involved?

But then, defined narrowly, it’s easy to come up with counter-examples. For instance, if we define 21st Century Literacy in relation to technology, it begs the question ‘does literacy in the 21st century relate to printed matter at all‘. The answer, of course, would have to be yes, it does.

3. Do we need new definitions?

I share the despair of Gunther Kress (2003, quoted in Eyman) when he sees new forms of ‘literacy’ popping up all over the place:

…literacy is the term to use when we make messages using letters as the means of recording that message….my approach leaves us with the problem of finding new terms for the uses of the different resources: not therefore “visual literacy” for the use of image; not “gestural literacy” for the use of gesture; and also not musical “literacy” or “soundtrack literacy” for the use of sound other than speech; and so on.

Semantics are important. Whilst we can’t keep using outdated words that link to conceptual anachronism (e.g. ‘horseless carriage’) we must be on our guard against supposed ‘literacies’ becoming more metaphorical than descriptive.

Concluding thoughts

One educator left the Elluminate discussion on 21st Century Literacies before had really got going. He mentioned that he was in favour of deeds rather than words. I can see what he means, although as I have already stated, semantics are important.

But there comes a point where one has to draw a line. In my thesis, I’m using a modified version of the Pragmatic method, as spelled out by William James (1995:82)thus,

To ‘agree‘ in the widest sense with a reality, can only mean to be guided either straight up to it or into its surroundings, or to be put into such working touch with it as to handle either it or something connected with it better than if we disagreed… Any idea that helps us to deal, whether practically or intellectually, with either the reality or its belongings, that doesn’t entangle our progress in frustrations, that fits, in fact, and adapts our life to the reality’s whole setting, will agree sufficiently to meet the requirement/ It will hold true of that reality.

Thus names are just as ‘true’ or ‘false’ as definite mental pictures are. They set up similar verification-processes, and lead to fully equivalent practical results.

I’m looking for a definition that doesn’t ‘entangle my progress in frustration’. I’m yet to find it, but I’ll keep on looking! :-p

References:

  • Doyle, C.S. (1994) Information literacy in an information society: A Concept for the Information Age, DIANE Publishing
  • Eyman, D., Digital Literac(ies), Digital Discourses, and Communities of Practice: Literacy Practices in Virtual Environments (Cultural Practices of Literacy Study, Working Paper #12, no date)
  • James, W. Pragmatism (Dover Thrift Editions, 1995)
  • Work Group on Information Competence, Commission on Learning Resources and Instructional Technology (1995), quoted by Spitzer, K.L., et al. Information Literacy: essential skills for the information age, 1998, p.25


Top 25: The Best of Belshaw 2008

Best of BelshawVersion 2.0 of this blog (dougbelshaw.com) is now pretty much exactly a year old. It was a year ago that I decided to retire teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk and concentrate my energies here. During that time I’ve written some blog posts that have hit home with some people and some that haven’t. Here, in ranked order according to AideRSS, are the ones with the highest ‘PostRank’ – a ranking system that takes into account inbound links, tweets, delicious links, comments, etc. 🙂

  1. My Ed.D. thesis proposal: What does it mean to be ‘digitally literate’? (17 May 2008)
  2. The Map Is Not The Territory: the changing face of the edublogosphere (28 March 2008)
  3. Animoto rocks! Here’s proof… (5 February 2008)
  4. 5 productivity tips/hacks I’ve come across recently. (14 July 2008)
  5. 3 reasons the majority of students are NOT ‘digitally literate’ (2 February 2008)
  6. 3 reasons I’m against the Edublog Awards (3 December 2008)
  7. Why ‘high culture’ for pupils is highly wrong-headed (13 February 2008)
  8. Recommend me 3 (20 March 2008)
  9. 90% digital, or 12 ways my teaching ecosystem is evolving. (21 August 2008)
  10. Censorship and the Personal/Professional divide (17 June 2008)
  11. Is Twitter bad for you? (29 March 2008)
  12. AUP 2.0 (3 June 2008)
  13. Are you an ‘Edupunk’? I’m not. (31 May 2008)
  14. Help me write my job spec. for next year! (3 June 2008)
  15. 5 things School of Rock can teach us about real education (27 January 2008)
  16. Creating an Interactive Whiteboard using a Nintendo WiiMote (14 May 2008)
  17. Things I’ve been reading online recently (12 April 2008)
  18. THIS is how technology can enhance learning (22 February 2008)
  19. Hi, my name’s Doug Belshaw… (9 January 2008)
  20. Interesting Ways to use Netbooks in the Classroom (29 November 2008)
  21. Reflections on BETT 2008 (13 January 2008)
  22. My response to the GTC’s proposed ‘code of conduct’ for teachers in England. (21 December 2008)
  23. Ken Robinson on creativity v2 (17 February 2008)
  24. Page Peel Script (26 January 2008)
  25. Politics: the biggest problem in education (1 October 2008)

As you can see, it would appear that if one’s aim was to write posts to get the widest audience and largest amount of influence, one should:

  • Write ‘list’ posts – e.g. ‘3 ways to…’ or ‘5 things that…’
  • Be ‘anti-‘ something
  • Provide something unique (e.g. Page Peel Script, Wiimote Whiteboard guide)
  • Ask for collaboration/help

But that’s not my aim. I write about the things that interest or concern me, and that shall continue in 2009. I’m thinking of changing the layout of dougbelshaw.com a bit for the sake of my ‘online presence’, but I’ll still be blogging about the same things and ‘keeping it real’… :-p


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5 interesting web applications to mess around with when you’re bored over Christmas!

Since the beginning of this term I’ve run one session per week in my role as E-Learning Staff Tutor. The most common question after ‘How come you get so many free periods?’ is Where do you get all your e-learning ideas from?

I can finally reveal the answer. I get most of them from… Twitter!

It’s probably best to show Twitter in action rather than just try to explain it. It’s a bit like a hybrid of the best bits of Facebook and Here’s the message I sent to my Twitter network on Tuesday evening as I was leaving school at around 4pm:

And here’s the response I got by the time I’d got home and had a cup of coffee!

…and then later, when educators in other places around the world weren’t asleep:

Depending on the time of day and who’s in your Twitter network depends on where in the world you get your responses from. It’s like ‘microblogging’, crossed with text messaging (you’ve only got 140 characters) and a social network all rolled into one. You can share links, ideas and resources really quickly and easily. 🙂

Here’s links, in alphabetical order, to the sites mentioned above. My top 5 are in bold, whilst those in red are those currently blocked by our school network. If you’re reading this and from somewhere else in the world, your mileage may vary… :-p

  • Animoto – an easy way to create high-quality and engaging videos using images and text
  • Backpack– an organizer (calendar, group discussion tools, etc.)for small businesses and organizations
  • blip.tv – a video sharing service designed for creators of user-generated content
  • Bloglines – an RSS feed reading application
  • Blogger/Blogspot – a blogging platform by Google
  • Delicious – online ‘social’ bookmarking
  • Diigo – online ‘social’ bookmarking with advanced features and groups
  • Dropbox – store, sync and share files online
  • Drop.io – privately share files up to 100MB online
  • Edublogs.org – a blogging platform dedicated to educational blogging
  • Edublogs.tv – online video sharing and embedding tool
  • Eduspaces – a social network and blogging platform for education
  • Elluminate – ‘elearning and collaboration solution’ (not free)
  • Evernote – ‘allows you to capture information (text, photos, etc.) and make it accessible from anywhere
  • Flickr – a photo-sharing website with Creative Commons-licensed content
  • GMail – an online email application from Google that provides lots of free storage
  • Google Calendar – a web-based calendar application that has RSS feeds and a reminder service
  • Google Docs – stores documents online and allows collaboration with others
  • Google Earth – a more powerul and 3D version of Google Maps (requires installation)
  • Google Maps – online mapping with advanced features
  • Google Reader – an RSS feed reading application
  • Google Scholar – search academic journals and articles
  • iGoogle – customizable home page (.com blocked at our school, .co.uk not!)
  • Kizoom – web-based ‘intelligent’ public transport alerter and organizer
  • Last.fm – a social network built around music that also recommends music based on your listening habits
  • MobileMe – online synchronization service for Apple users (not free)
  • Moodle – an Open-Source content management system based on constructivist principles (requires installation on a web server)
  • Ning – allows you to create your own social network very easily
  • Posterous – very simple and easy-to-use blogging platform
  • PBwiki – an easy-to-use wiki creation tool
  • Picnik – powerful online image-editing application
  • PingMe – a social and mobile interactive reminder service for getting things done
  • Remember The Milk – an online to-do list with advanced features
  • Second Life – a 3D ‘virtual world’ (requires software download)
  • SlideShare – upload and share presentations
  • Syncplicity – sync, store and share files online
  • TeacherTube – YouTube for educational videos
  • Toodledo – an online to-do list
  • Twitter – a micro social-networking tool
  • UStream – live video streaming and chat rooms
  • VoiceThread – allows comments around content such as videos, pictures and Powerpoints
  • Voki – make your own speaking avatar to embed in your blog, wiki or website
  • Wetpaint – a good-looking wiki creation tool
  • Wikispaces – a wiki creation tool
  • WordPress – a highly-configurable Open-Source blogging platform (requires installation on a web server)
  • Zoho Show – create collaborative, online Powerpoint-like presentations

Remember, with collaborative applications you have to give a little to get a little for it to be really useful. Try out Twitter over the holiday period. Merry Christmas!

PS Twitter’s best used with a dedicated program rather than the web interface. I recommend the wonderful TweetDeck, available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. 🙂

Productivity, Organization & #tweetmeet

I’ve spent this afternoon and early evening at a ‘tweetmeet’. These are also known as ‘tweetups’ and are when people who have previously only met, or usually communicate, through the microblogging service Twitter meet up face-to-face. I’d actually met all of the people from the small tweetmeet we had today in Nottingham.* :-p

Such ‘unorganized’ meetings of people – TeachMeet is a similar, slightly more structured example – are the subject of this blog post. What prompted my thinking about organization was part of the discussion we had, foolowed up by listening to a Radio 4 podcast on the way home called Thinking Allowed. I suggest that you listen to it right now!

The whole point of organizations is to achieve something. These may be set in stone and known by all participants in the organizations, or there may be many (and possibly conflicting) objectives framed by participants. All organizations, therefore, have different degrees of productivity, both globally (as an organization) and, depending on their size, on a more micro-scale.

I say this because we discussed at the tweetmeet – which was itself a kind of exemplar – the concept of an ‘unconference’. This is defined by Wikipedia (as I write, anyway…) as ‘a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose.’ Our purpose, I suppose, was to discuss things face-to-face that we’d previously discussed online, and to get to know each other a little better. Then, on the way home, listening the Thinking Allowed podcast (above) it got me thinking more generally about organizational structures.

Michael Thompson, author of Organising and Disorganising, talked about going on a expedition to climb the South face of Mount Everest. He explained how there were two separate groups – ‘Team A’ and ‘Team B’ – with the leader and middle managers (as it were) in the former group and the rest in the latter. He explained how this rigid hierarchical structure led to those in Team B, despite being experienced and highly-motivated mountaineers, adopting a chaotic, somewhat anti-organizational structure.

The important thing, however, was that order in fact came out of this structure; order that depended on those involved. This is the thing that is missing in organizational planning these days: the role of individuality. Because, actually, someone who fulfils a role in an organization cannot simply be swapped-out for another person. The whole organizational structure depends on the talents, personality and individual attributes of that person. Change one part of the organization and the whole thing shifts. It may be a small amount in some cases – imperceptible to some – but a rearrangement and alteration does take place.

This helps to explain why organizations seemingly consisting of brilliant minds that should be amazingly productive and innovative fail to be so. An effective organizational structure is one that removes barriers and enables individuals within an organization to reach his or her potential. This, of course, cannot be at the expense of another, otherwise it is a futile exercise. One such way of going about organization, therefore, is to unorganize things, to mix things up a little.

So I’d encourage you, as Tom did me today, to once you’ve attended an unconference, to think about organizing (or un-organizing…) one of your own. You can’t really state in advance the specific things you’re likely to learn, but that’s part of the fun! I’ll leave you with a couple of things. The first is a Twitter message from @hrheingold which sums up in a far more eloquent way than I could ever manage the benefits of letting a little (controlled) chaos into organization:

The second is a link I came across, shared by Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher), whilst writing this post. It’s called 8 Tips on How to Run Your Own UnConference. I hope that and this post change your thinking a bit and encourage you to think a little differently about organization, or the lack of it, and how it could impact the productivity of any organization of which you are part! 😀

* I knew Lisa Stevens originally from last year’s TeachMeet at BETT, Jose Picardo from an Open Source Schools event, and Tom Barrett from some work we did for a Becta-funded project into Web 2.0 in the classroom at Nottingham University a few months back. The reason it says #tweetmeet in the title is because on Twitter you can add tags by prefacing words with hash symbols. These then can be tracked by websites such as Twemes.com. You can see this in action on the front page of the tweetmeet.eu website!

Image credits: iPhone Matrix App -MoPhaic & Podcamp West, both from Flickr

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3 reasons I’m against the Edublog Awards

Last year on my previous blog, teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk, I wrote a very short ‘microblog’ post entitled Please don’t vote for this blog! about the Edublog Awards. It, erm, caused some debate – some of which could be put in the category heated.

It’s time for the Edublogs Awards again, and I still haven’t changed my stance. I’m totally against them, for reasons I shall explain. I wasn’t going to say anything as people who I like and respect such as Tom Barrett and José Picardo are stoked to be nominated, but I really must give my $0.02…

1. They foster competition instead of collaboration and co-operation

Just as when you’re teaching a course that has an exam at the end of it you teach differently to those purely assessed by coursework, so the Edublog Awards can influence blogging. Although I’ve blogged before about making sure you don’t get ‘unfollowed on Twitter’ and offered tips on how to retain RSS subscribers, this is slightly different. The point of those posts was to make sure that people offering a different view of education continue to get their voices heard. The Edublog Awards are a popularity contest that pit blog author against blog author instead of striving to a common goal 🙁

2. They’re promoted by people who have vested interests

I’ve met and think I get on with Josie Fraser reasonably well (education and social media consultant). I’ve heard that James Farmer (Edublogs.org owner) is a great guy. However, both of them do this kind of thing for a living. I’m certainly not saying that they set up and continue to run the awards purely for financial and self-centred reasons. But it’s a consideration.

When I’ve made points like this before, people have said that bloggers deserve a thank-you, a well done and a slap on the back. Yes. They do. That’s what comments, tip jars (like Dave Warlick’s Starbucks one) and blogging about what you’ve learned via that person are for. Awards are divisive.

“I smell sour grapes,” say others. Not so. In fact, one of my blogs (the now non-existent edte.ch) was nominated in the category ‘best resource-sharing blog’, even though it did nothing of the sort! What’s worse, people actually voted for it. I was shocked.

Still others may say that it’s a good way to find out about new blogs or ones that have escaped their attention. So are Technorati, Google Blog Search, the ‘recommendation’ feature in Google Reader, and – shock horror! – people actually just blogging about other people and their blogs that they find useful or interesting. There’s no need for an award, or series of awards, just so that people can discover new or different content. The Internet is already good at connecting people and for searches…

3. It’s very easy to rig them

Just as ‘Teacher of the Year’ awards are won by good teachers but not necessarily the best in their field, so the Edublog Awards reflect the nature the process. What happens when a teacher is nominated as ‘Teacher of the Year’? Everyone even remotely related to their school or family is urged to vote for them.

I know as a matter of fact of teachers nominated in previous years who have encouraged every student they teach to go home and vote for their blog (as the school has a single IP address). I’ve seen blog posts pratically begging readers to vote for a blog.

In the end it comes down to who wants it the most. And I don’t want it at all. Comments and thank-you’s on this blog and Twitter are reward enough. It’s a shame that’s not the case for others in the edublogosphere. :-p

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The very best of teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk

A couple of private messages and a comment on a previous post on this blog made me realise something the other day. Here I am assuming that readers of dougbelshaw.com are aware that I blogged for two years solely on teaching and education-related stuff at teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk. It would appear that this is not the case. And why should it be? After all, I make very little mention of it here.

So what follows is a roundup of what you missed between 2005 and the end of 2007. Hope you find something useful! 😀

According to the Most Popular Posts plugin still installed at teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk, the most visited posts are (in order) :

  1. How to write an application letter for a teaching-related job
  2. Online Storage
  3. I can’t teach properly
  4. 20 Ideas: Getting students to use their mobile phones as learning tools
  5. Interesting Desktop Backgrounds
  6. 10 Top Behaviour Management Tips
  7. WikiMapia.org
  8. 8 things that irritate me with edublogs
  9. Weekly Roundup (3 September 2006) – 1 – Theory
  10. Using Twitter with your students

There’s a few posts in there – numbers 2, 5 and 7, for example – that are there because of general Internet searches unrelated to education. Most of the rest in this list gained some traction due to being referenced on one or more sites with a larger number of readers! :-p

My all-time Top 10

1. The kind of school in which I want to work…

I referenced this post recently. In it, I attempt to explain the type of education system and school I want to be a part of. I compare teachers to being like ‘lifeguards’. Creating the graphics for this post and coming up with the metaphor helped clarify my thinking a great deal!

2. I can’t teach properly

I spend a lot of my time frustrated in life, but I’ve learned to live with it. In this post, I poured out this frustration in a way that seemed to strike a chord with quite a few other educators (judging by the comments!).

3. 5 reasons why I love teaching

Despite being frequently frustrated, I do actually love teaching. Most of the time, it doesn’t even feel like a job. Before we had Ben a couple of years ago, I would frequently tell Hannah (my wife) that I’d do it for free! That’s obviously changed a bit now that I have dependents, but the actual interfacing with young people, their enthusiasm and lack of fear to ask questions, is so refreshing. 🙂

4. 1 year on… How has blogging affected my life as a teacher?

I started blogging in 2005 after having read the blogs of other educators for a good while and commenting on them. My blogging regularly – usually every day – began when I was off work at my previous school due to stress. Connecting with educators worldwide made such a difference, and 2006 ended up being a great year. 😀

5. Infectious Learning: Teachers as Lifelong Learners

I’m a firm believer in teachers being allowed the time to be learners too. In fact, I think it’s essential to prevent stagnation. This post was sparked from an exchange during an interview in which the Head of a school I shall not name stated he was ‘somewhat suspicious’ that I’d remained in full-time education (when I did my MA in Modern History) ‘longer than I had needed to’. The post outlines four reasons why teachers need to be effective learners.

6. Digital Natives, Mountain Men and Pioneers

During 2006 I became increasingly tired of seeing both in blog posts and ‘academic’ research the terms ‘digital immigrant’ and ‘digital native’. This post was a follow-up to an earlier post in which I called the dichotomy a false one and suggested an alternative.

7. Do textbooks hamper 21st-century learning?

This post was in response to a call by Wes Fryer for a moratorium on the purchase of new textbooks. Others, such as Stephen Downes and Vicki Davis had joined in the debate. I looked at the ins-and-outs of textbook usage, adding that I managed to burn myself out during my first year and-a-bit of teaching by seeing textbooks as evil things that should be avoided. A blended approach is a much better option… 🙂

8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers

There’s nothing like a good-old ‘list’ post! This one goes through, unsurprisingly, the seven ‘habits’ I believe teachers I would class as ‘effective’ and – dare I say it – inspirational teachers possess.

9. Homework-casting using del.icio.us

I don’t think I would have included this post in my Top 10 was it not for a conversation during last week’s EdTechRoundup FlashMeeting. I suggested a couple of years ago a possible method for automatic resource-delivery to students via RSS of homework/coursework materials. Theoretically, you should be able to deliver any type of file via RSS – not just audio, video and PDFs. Unfortunately, I’m still not aware of any program that allows the automatic downloading of any type of file enclosed in the RSS feed. 🙁

10. Yearly Roundup – The 20 best edublog posts of 2006

I used to really enjoy doing my weekly, monthly and yearly roundups of the edublogosphere. There’s two reasons why I can’t do that any more. First, I have less time these days – what with my son, working for educational publishers in my ‘spare’ time, and an additional role in school. Second, the edublogosphere has (happily) expanded greatly in the last couple of years. It’s just impossible to keep up… 😉

What are YOUR favourite posts on your blog(s)?

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3 ways to prevent being ‘unfollowed’ on Twitter

Some people reading the title of this blog post may claim not to be bothered when they’re ‘unfollowed’ on Twitter, FriendFeed, etc.  I don’t believe them.*  😉

Most people on Twitter also have a blog. The reason you have a blog rather than write in a personal diary is to share your ideas with the world. You’d like to influence others in some way.

As a result, whether you like it or not, if you’ve got a blog you’re in the marketing business. You are (potentially) a global micro-brand.

All this sounds a bit business-like, especially for an educator with a professed aim to change the education system for the better. But, as I have blogged about recently, our ideas gaining acceptance is one way to achieve a sort of immortality. And if we do want to change the education system, we need to influence as many people as possible! 😀

So yes, you do need to be concerned when people ‘unfollow’ you on Twitter. One or two may not be a problem, but if there’s somewhat of an exodus, it means that they’re not getting what they thought you’d be delivering. Let’s see how we can make sure that state of affairs doesn’t obtain…

1. Speak in full sentences

When I teach lessons that involve students answering questions, I stress the importance of making sure they don’t start their answer to a question with ‘because’, and that they explain the context. Otherwise, when they come to revise, they won’t ‘get it’. Similarly with Twitter, you’re not just having a conversation with another individual – people who are following you are also listening. Don’t say ‘it’ – say what you mean and link to what you’re talking about (if relevant) – and in every tweet involved.

2. ‘Direct message’ people more

Just because someone’s used an @ reply to you (e.g. @dajbelshaw: my interesting message) doesn’t mean you have to do likewise to them. If what you’re going to say is unlikely to interest others apart from that individual, send them a direct message. Just be sure to double-check that you’re following them as well, otherwise it could be slightly embarrassing. I talk from experience… 😮

3. Don’t binge-tweet

I use FriendFeed as well as Twitter. FriendFeed summarises when someone sends more than one tweet in quick succession. Yesterday, someone I follow posted 25 messages in quick succession. When you’re following hundreds of people, that’s too much to handle. Be focused.

I’m always very aware that my tweets are one of the first things you see when you visit dougbelshaw.com. That means I try to keep the most recent tweet fairly interesting and relevant to both Twitter followers and visitors to my site. If I post a reply which may be useful to others but fairly geeky, I try to follow it up quickly with something of greater relevance.

These ideas may not work for everyone, but they work for me. What do you use Twitter for? What are your tips for using it?

* This post came about after a discussion about a new service called Qwitter that emails you when someone stops following you on Twitter.

(Image by Mykl Roventine @ Flickr)

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