Unzipping Twitter to late adopters?

Hi all,

I spent the morning talking to some friends about Twitter. We talked about the frustrations of working in a school environment  with people who say they don’t have enough time.  In the past I have sat on hands  (or rather put a zip on my mouth) when this is raised.  For some reason I unzipped it on Monday.

At the Digital Revolution Conference on Monday time was raised as a barrier again and this time I felt I should speak up to  balance the argument.  I was surprisingly nervous. Invested time now saves time later was all I said.  

After I spoke up about how you have take a longer term perspective a few people came up to me sharing  similar frustrations.  One included a teacher who has followed my attempts in Geography to keep it up with technology.  It is pleasing to know that some people do follow what you try and do and it is good that they let you know.  I shared this story with my friends this morning; pointing out that we have to keep chipping away at the edges and have faith in what we are doing is good for our students even if the teachers do put up barriers now and then.  

Now why did I speak up this time at the Conference.?  A friend of mine Chris who was a Principal for a couple of decades has recently stepped up and is Chaplain for a school in Canberra.  At a meeting of Principals in Canberra this week he did the worship service for his old colleagues and friends and sent me his homily. One key message was to exercise the leadership you have.  Don’t be afraid to  be a leader in your field. Chris spoke about all these things while I was sitting in the Marriott.

Who will be heir to the work of my hands?  Or, in modern jargon, who will benefit from the blood, sweat and tears I put into my work – where will the value-added be? Will our efforts bear fruit?

I am really fascinated by Twitter; in fact some say I am evangelical about it.  

A few things, which I cannot clearly identify, are holding me back from using it and promoting it for classroom teaching.

I have been using Twitter since July last year and like many others it has taken me a while to get the hang of the worthiness of it.  Individually  for me I see the value:

1.  I am a social person and for me  Twitter is a way to connect with people. Though I have to learn to  mix where I fit in – it is a fine line between being a follower and perceived as a stalker. 

2.  It is immediate.  When Hurricane Katrine  hit I kept up to date by the explosion of wikis and blogs on what was happening.  Twitter has now made things like earthquakes in China even more immediate.  Though  not the same for disasters in developing countries such as the tsumani and Burma earthquake.  Twitter is used more in developed countries I guess. 

3.  It is perfect for my own professional development.  I learn so much by reading and following peoples’ links. For me this is the number one value.

4.  For what it is worth and for those that are interested I can share  what I am doing.

I am sure there are more benefits but how can these be transferred to the classroom?  First before I go any further I need to be assured of the stability of Twitter.

With the outages it has been happening it makes me wary to commit too much time supporting it as a Teaching and learning tool if it continues to have issues Why?  Mike Arlington suggests that it is manually monitored and once that person  is not there things go wrong.

I have been saving all sorts of literature on Twitter for a future article and have speaking to those who want to listen to me about it.  However,  am I backing the wrong horse?  Should I be focussing on Friendfeed.  As with all things leading edge I would not want to go to far down the path of  working with it at school with the outages it has been having.  This would undo all the good will for technology we have built up over 5 years.  I can tolerate  all the issues that come up but later adopters will be less supportive and might even back away from technology, which is something I don’t want to happen.

So even though Twitter is great for me personally and I can see all its potential I am not sure if we are ready to unzip this potential on late adopters (in the classroom) just yet.

cheers  Martin


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