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Posts Tagged ‘media

If all goes according to plan, the auto-posting of this entry will coincide with the start of my hour-long seminar on social media-enabled PLNs.

Unlike my previous talks and seminars, I am dispensing with a backchannel. It is not that I no longer see its value. I have other activities for my participants.

I have created a simple companion Google Site to house all the components of the seminar. As with most events I design, I have included a bit more than is required and will leave items out depending on the need.

I normally create my slides from scratch by using large images and as few words as possible. I tell the stories and let my slides support them (not the other way around). I also provide just enough information for participants to teach themselves by linking to activities and reflection spaces.

This time, however, I have an audience that is very new to the concepts. There is a bit more text so that the slide deck can serve as a reference. To do this, I opted to use the Banquo template from Slides Carnival. Disclosure: I do not benefit in any way from mentioning Slides Carnival.

I was very impressed by the variety of slide layouts included in each template (see a few examples in my tweets below).

I have not had to create formal learning opportunities in the areas of social media and PLNs for a while (the last time was in 2012). These have been a passion of mine since I joined Twitter in 2007. But they have also been a “background” topic in that most people taught themselves these topics and I have been asked to facilitate learning of other topics.

I am glad that I can return to one of my roots and will cast some seeds today. I just hope that the soil is fertile and the conditions ripe for the picking.

Addendum: Here are a some takeaways from a sample of the participants. Click on the tweet below to see three screen grabs.

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When I rationalize with old-school teachers why they should change their ways, the majority clam up or a minority push back.

If they are reflective and brave, they might ask about the risks of adopting the changes I suggest. For example, what are the risks of integrating social media into teaching and learning?

I can answer this question in at least two ways.


The expected set of answers is that you might find the going tough, make mistakes along the way, or get into a bit of trouble.

These are the risks of changing old mindsets and behaviours in order to learn new ones. You make calculated risks (not foolhardy ones), take the leap, and deal with what comes your way.

Here is the example question again: What are the risks of integrating social media into teaching and learning? The less expected answers might not be easy to stomach.

You risk being disconnected because you refuse to do what matters now and you do not learn from educators who are already plugged in.

You risk becoming irrelevant because you do not understand today’s learners and you fail to project tomorrow’s need.

You risk not making a difference because you rely on old, irrelevant strategies for new, complex problems.

These are the risks of giving into fear and the selfishness of not doing.

Video source

Do, or do not. There is no try.

If you choose not to do, can you live with the consequences of not taking risks for the sake of your learners?

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I found this social media advice for teachers.

I hope teachers do not take the advice like it is gospel truth because there are exceptions.

For example, I am all for keeping it “light and positive”. But sometimes there are heavy or serious matters that might be discussed on social media. The mostly asynchronous nature of social media affords time and space for thoughtful reflection and these might not be light at all.

You also cannot always be positive. Sometimes you have to be point out flaws, be a critical friend, or simply provide balance. But you can do it professionally and after you have established yourself as a trusted entity.

Some people might label providing an opposing view as “negativity” and the author advises disconnecting with it. This is not always advisable because you might suffer from group think or delude yourself into thinking that there is no thought contrary to your own.

The author also advises teachers not to follow students on Facebook. On the surface, this seems like good advice. Dig deeper and it is still good advice. Teachers should be never appear to be establishing and nurturing inappropriate relationships. However, following such advice blindly relies on fear instead of common sense.

Here is an alternative: You can be connected in monitoring mode without being in conversing mode.

For example, when I was a teacher educator at a university, I followed my student teachers on Facebook if they asked to friend me. I was able to monitor their morale and get informal feedback because they would share things openly on Facebook that they would not do elsewhere.

That is how I found out how one student teacher was contemplating suicide. If I did not read what she wrote on Facebook, I would not have been able to intervene by connecting her with an institute’s counsellor.

Bottomline: The list of social media do’s and don’ts are not rules, especially if they are grounded in fear. There will be exceptions based on the care you have for your learners.

In 2009, I asked my student teachers if they would “friend” their students in Facebook (see this VoiceThread).

Those that said they would recommended maintaining at least two separate accounts: One for personal use and another for professional use. If we can silo your identities, manage multiple profiles fastidiously, and put up with inconveniences, we might try doing this.

The theory seems sound and some might even cite this as a good practice. But we might eventually realize that we are lying to ourselves and setting unrealistic examples.

Why do some teachers still recommend split social media personalities in the first place?

A. A teacher or an educator is subject to higher standards than most. This is a fair expectation given that they deal with children or are in positions of influence and authority.

B. To this day, most educational institutes have strict social media usage policies and might even have codes of conduct to regulate behaviour. This is not fair given that the assumption is employees cannot be trusted and/or will do something wrong.

Combine A and B and you C why having different social media profiles in the same platform (e.g,. two Facebook accounts) seems to make sense. The professional (and often dry, humourless) account is used for work or official purposes.

This lie can easily catch up with us. Try juggling more than one account and we will invariably post something by mistake to the wrong account. We are human after all.

We are not only flawed, we are also complex. One person is many things to different people. For example, a person may be someone else’s parent, child, mentor, mentee, boss, employee, leader, follower, friend, enemy, etc. We can choose what to project and what to protect.

We can choose to be personal and professional, particularly with a platform like Twitter. Educators who flock to Twitter and persist with it learn how to balance their personal and professional personalities there. This tends to happen because they are learning in the company of mostly strangers.

On the other hand, a platform like Facebook favours the curation and collection of family and friends. Teachers avoid using Facebook for teaching or mentoring because they are there to chill out in the company of people they might know well.

(Credit to @hsiao_yun for mentioning something along the lines of: Twitter is learning in the company of strangers. Facebook is relaxing in the company of friends.)

Teachers would rather create another Facebook profile or use a platform like Edmodo for teaching and mentoring. It segments life nicely. Too nicely.

When teachers do this, they often do not transfer what is good about social media platforms. They might focus on worksheets or providing content or demanding answers to questions. They already do this in class, so they transfer what they are comfortable doing to the social media space. They forget to teach and learn by being social.

They forget how people do not need to be asked or forced to share. People already want to share, especially if there is something interesting or controversial.

Relying on split personas reinforces the behaviour of being one person in one place and being another in a second place. If we do this, we might forget that skills in one place can transfer to another, particularly in social media platforms for learning. We might also not learn how to be personal and professional at the same time.

This time last year I shared details of my 2014 social media experiment.

Back then I stopped cross-posting to Facebook and started doing so on Google+. I am continuing that this year.

I amplified my blog’s reach by auto-tweeting with Twitter Feed. I am continuing that too.

But the feed system breaks down every now and then. Twitter Feed goes bonkers a few times a year. Late last year the link to the WordPress feed system also broke. This has had a huge impact on my reach.

Through much of 2014, I had a few tweeps who would auto-retweet all my blog-related auto-tweets. They were in different parts of the world and had their own PLNs. When the link between WordPress and other feeds broke, the auto-retweets broke.

I opted not to ask those kind folk to reset the auto-retweets. I reasoned that it was their prerogative to keep retweeting or not. This was also an opportunity for me to carry my own weight. Or to throw it around as it were.

I reflect in my blog every day (this will be the eighth year I am doing this) and I limit myself to just one auto-tweet pointing back to each blog entry. I also compose other tweets between five to ten times a day and I have a reach of about 30,000 views each day. Assuming I tweet ten times a day, each tweet has 3,000 views a day on average.

But tweet views are notoriously volatile. Tweets have been described as fast-flowing streams; they are more like mist droplets made out of rapidly evaporating alcohol. This leads to a low click-through rate of 1 to 10%.

Social media marketers advise tweeting and publishing on peak days (Tue to Thu) and at optimum times (commutes, lunch time, after dinner). This means auto-retweeting several times a day to reach local and international audiences. This could also look like Twitter spam. I am going to try resisting that.

I have found that it is very difficult to predict what people enjoy reading. There are some obvious spikes (like my recent story of the grammar nazi vs the loan shark), but these are the low-hanging fruit.

I will focus on writing what I think is important or what strikes my fancy. Why? This blog is my reflective space. But I leave it open to others who might relate to or learn from what I am saying.

I have also found that writing daily keeps me and my ideas high up in Google searches. When I ask people how they found me or why they want to engage me in some work, most point to my online presence. That is reason enough for me to keep doing my social media experiment.

I would hesitate to call the graphic embedded in this tweet an infographic.

This is an actual infographic. There is a dynamic version of the static infographic.

But the first graphic, a timeline, does provide a nice summary of the changes in major social media platforms over the year.

Interestingly enough, the embedded image might be easier to see and read on the mobile platform. The catering or preference for mobile is a trend in itself. Long may that continue into 2015!

Yesterday, STonline highlighted six stories that broke on social media before other media outlets picked up on them.

The writer declared: What is clear from these impactful social media stories is that whatever happens online could lead to serious real life consequences.

That is putting things backwards.

What should be clearer is that these events started with real life and its consequences. Social media was part of real life and its consequences.

Some quarters of the media and schools might wish to dwell in a dichotomous world of social media and non-social media. The rest of the world has moved on.

But just because you get it backwards does not mean that you have to live backwards. Move forwards and keep going that way.

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