Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Video Killed the Radio Star

OK, so that's not exactly true. But as I type, the edtech world is once again being rocked by another popular Web 2.0 tool joining the dead pool. This time it appears Google Reader will go away July 1st, 2013. You can read all about it at tinyurl.com/RIPGreader My Facebook feed is blowing up right now with people disappointed with the loss of a favorite tool. But fear not my friends, while Google Reader may be joining the dead pool, RSS is not. Indeed Google Reader was an essential piece that many individuals rely on to aggregate information. Personally, it was not visual enough for me. And I think that may be part of the reason it is now past it's prime, as it were. Tools like flipboard.com, scoop.it, paper.li and others have taken the rss world by storm. They are flashier and in my opinion easier to navigate. Now. I am not suggesting that those tools will be as robust or feature rich as the most rabid of you information hounds would like. Goodnoows.com, newsgator.com, reader.feedshow.com and others may be up your alley. The important thing is you already know about RSS and the power of aggregation. You have the skillset and probably a large collection of your favorite RSS feeds to export and get you started - hopefully Zenodotus.net is among them (if not you can grab the RSS feed from the top left of this page). Who knows Google may have something in the wings that is better than reader...We all remember what happened with Google Wave right? Many of us rode it all the way into Google + (which I am still trying to figure out how it fits into my PLN these many months later.)
We survived the Ning debacle and this too shall pass, however painfully. The important thing is to start looking for your exit strategy now. Start exploring the best alternative and keep the information flowing!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why Twitter Still Matters

It has been a while since my last post and I have not even started to look into my plan to start writing about apps.  The ICE conference just completed and my stress levels were kind of through the roof since my two of my three sessions were not all about tools but rather about pedagogy and communication. Topics that until now have been completely out of my comfort zone.  And while I was only able to attend a few sessions, I left the conference rejuvenated.
I am always fascinated by how a stressful few days can cleanse the soul and open the mind! For me an educational technology conference is all about finding out what amazing things others are doing and making connections.  Incidentally, Jim Rowley's session, "Differentiation Through Online Gamification" needs to be adapted into a TED-Ed talk, he is an educational rock star!. His work is on the cutting edge of shifting the paradigm in education to learner centered engagement (a place I personally believe we need to get to - and soon.)
From a connection stand point, I had the opportunity to meet many people I have been conversing with on social networks for some time.  Having an opportunity to meet Angela Maiers, Wesley Fryer, Tony Vincent, Scott McLeod and Tom Whitby in person for the first time or getting to reconnect with Hall Davidson Shannon Miller and one of my copresenters Jennifer Wagner was extremely meaningful for me. Not only because I have learned so much from them as a professional but also because their wisdom has helped me to grow as a person.  Watching each of them give of themselves to everyone who wanted to stop and say hello was amazing because it highlighted the importance of connection. While this may sound like name dropping, it is only because these are the people I can't easily connect with in person as they are spread across the country and I truly cherish the opportunities I get to spend with such individuals whom without first knowing on Twitter, I would never had the courage to introduce myself.  Witnessing these interactions also inspired me to get back to work on a book I have been writing for years on building Professional Learning Networks.  The human need for connection is so important to be successful, we cannot afford to live in silos of solitude.
So why does Twitter still matter? Because, it allows you to break from that isolation. Make connections to the people who matter most and share what you do.  I have been on a personal crusade since being introduced to Twitter over 4 years ago to get more educators to truly harness it's power.  First, I saw the potential for use in the classroom, but quickly found that was too taboo for all but the most brave of educators to attempt.  So, instead I encouraged members of the educational community to embrace the social network as a way to make those all important connections and have meaningful conversations.  For me Twitter has become a conduit of growth.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't learn something new or find encouragement and inspiration from my colleagues.  But, I must add a word of caution here.  You can end up building your own silo with Twitter if you only follow people you know or those in your immediate profession.  As I have been re-evaluating my Twitter strategy (something I recommend you do at least twice a year), I have noticed two things.  First, I am mostly connected to educators outside the classroom.  My network namely consists of  District Technology Coordinators, technology coaches, tech support staff and network people, integration specialists and strategists.  What is missing from that mix? The classroom teacher.  While I am connected to a number of stellar teachers who share amazing things, I am missing that true connection to those on the "front lines".  I want to hear the amazing things you are doing and your #eduwin.  I started to become concerned that I had built a lopsided network and was not connected to enough teachers. As I scrolled through the almost 800 people I follow, I noticed a number of classroom teachers, but I also noted they are not "active users". A few tweets here and there about the mundane daily duties they face.  I can already hear the responses.  "Not enough time", "what I say won't have impact", and "I don't have access to Twitter during the day".  These are unacceptable excuses ladies and gentleman.  What you do matters and it only takes a few seconds to share something you did during your day that made an impact.  Please don't keep your achievements to yourself. Share them with the world and make it a better place as a result!
You will be hearing more about the #eduwin movement from me in coming days.  But please take a moment to look at whatisyoureduwin.com and see what it is all about!
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