Twitter (@MoodleMcKean)

Twitter is a microblogging social network site, which enables users to post messages, or Tweets, of up to 140 characters long. Since users can only see the Tweets from people they choose to ‘follow’ they need to create their own Twitter community by ‘following’ other users.

Twitter initially became well known for the Tweets made by it’s users telling their followers, what they have had for breakfast etc. However, following the introduction of a system to identify the information in Tweets, that all changed.

In order to identify, or tag information, within a Tweet, users use hash tags. Prefixing the tag with a # e.g. #elearning, which would indicate the Tweet referred to elearning in some way. Searching for and following hash tags is another way for users to find information and to follow a series of Tweets.

A Tweet by me using various hash tags

A Tweet with hash tags

The following articles refer to Twitter hash tags: The first hash tag Tweeted 0n TwitterSemiology of hash tags

The use of Twitter has changed dramatically in recent times, not least in light of the recent events in Egypt. Twitter was used as a central communication platform for the people of Egypt during the recent uprising and the hash tags #Jan25 and #Egypt were used to identify the Tweets related to it. In fact, the Egyptian government was so concerned about the use of Twitter during the unrest that they ‘unplugged’ the Internet in Egypt to try and disrupt these communication channels.

Using Twitter in education

Creating a Personalised Learning Network (PLN)

The teaching communities which exist on Twitter, are excellent examples of how Twitter supports education by its use as a continuing professional development tool. Teachers gradually build up their own PLN by initially following educational hash tags, such as the generic #edchat (educational chat) and more subject specific #mathchat (maths chat) and then following individual teachers, experts etc.

I have personally built up a PLN of approximately 2,900 members, who I am regularly able to share information with and equally I am able to ask for advice about the topics I need support with. Teachers, quite often Tweet links to blogs and articles which contain peer referenced materials or reflective writing which they welcome comments on, thus improving their own professional understanding. In fact, although Twitter only allows a 140 character messages which don’t facilitate reflective writing, the additional use of blogs enable this reflection to take place.

A number of Tweets using the hash tag #hudmud

Sharing my Twitter knowledge

In addition there are a variety of Twitter chats, which take place at the same time every week, for a hour, when teachers from all around the globe log in and contribute to the topic of the week. #ukedchat, for example, is a chat for UK educationalists, which takes place every Thursday from 8-9pm GMT. The topic for each chat is determined via a vote of the community prior to each chat and everyone who contributes to the chat simply tags their Tweet with #ukedchat, meaning everyone has to follow the hash tag for the hour to follow the chat.

Participants in #edchat

Participants in #edchat

A list of educational chats

The videos below, give a wide overview of PLNs.

This article explains how to: Build you own PLN with Twitter

One tutors’ view: Why I think Twitter is Amazing

There are many more ways Twitter can be used within education and plenty of examples already well referenced on the Internet. I have included a few articles below along with a matrix for using Twitter in education.

100 ways To Teach with Twitter

Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in Classroom

Full Tweet Ahead: More Teachers Using Twitter

Encouraging a Twitter Backchannel

Twitter increases students engagement (STUDY)

Can Twitter help improve grades? Some researchers think so

How Building a PLN Can Help Your Students

Twitter in Further Education Report

Educational Theory of a PLN

To follow……..

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Google Apps for Education

Google Apps for Education is a cloud based, Software as a Service (SaaS), package from Google which they provide, free of charge, for educational organisations.

Google Apps for Education, is a package made up of an office suite of applications, which supports word processing, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, websites, maps, blogs, email and much more. Google Apps, therefore provides learners with much of the software they regularly use on their educational desktop computers, however, now it is available in the cloud for them to use on any computer at anytime.

The value of the cloud service, above and beyond, providing learners with access to the software they require, is the fact the documents can be shared, enabling online, realtime collaboration between learners, both inside and outside the classroom.

Google Docs in Plain English

Educational Use: Peer support and collaboration

An excellent use of Google Apps to support learning is to use the applications to enable learners to collaborate on a group project, for example, writing a group poem.

As the learners are able to write in real time and can see what their peers are doing, they are able to collaborate as they write their poem. This live setup, provides the learners with the opportunity to comment on the structure of the each others verse and correct any spelling mistakes, while also enabling them to offer suggestions on alternative words and thus improve the overall project.

As well as improving collaboration between the learners, the use of this technology also enables the tutor to provide feedback, while the learners continue working. At the end of the task the tutor can also share all the different poems with the whole group, indicating where and why they had provided feedback and crucially highlighting what changes the groups made to improve their poem. Something which is very rarely, if ever, shared with peers under normal assessment conditions.

An introduction to Google Docs –Lynda.com video

Learn how to collaborate and share documents with Google Docs –Lynda.com video

As with Twitter there are many ways Google Docs can be used to support teaching and learning, I have highlighted a few more below.

This article is from a tutor who used Google docs with his learners and how that changed his assessment. A teachers’ view of assessing with Google Docs

This is a proposal from a tutor to his head teacher to use Google Docs for online reporting to parents

The links below are crowd sourced resources created by some members of my own PLN, listing ‘Interesting Ways to Use’ the following Google Apps:

Google Docs

Google Earth

Google Maps

Google Forms

Using Google Docs in the classroom: Simple as ABC

To learn how to use Google Docs have a look at Google Docs Training Suite

Educational Theory of Learner Collaboration

To follow…………….

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