Category Archives: Blogging and Tweeting

What to cover next?

I’m very aware I have been neglecting this blog. It isn’t that nothing has been making me excited – far from it. I have been using twitter to send out to the universe some of the great quotes from participants in projects, sometimes that just seems quicker than a blog post – but I would like to ensure some more depth is available here. There is lots to report on as it has been a very busy time, so this is the beginning of me getting back on track.

Some great news is that there are going to be a wider team of people posting on the blog in coming months, giving a broader perspective and hopefully adding lots of value. Like I was, they will be new to blogging and using the site as a way to build their social media skills. Do welcome them on board when they start posting (it is a scary thing to do).

However as a distraction (?) to getting going I have been enjoying Wordle to make a word cloud from the text of the most recent posts. It is very easy to do and rather fun, but it also makes me realise what areas I’m covering and what is less discussed. I have found this useful in thinking about where to focus next.

Thanks to Cath Ford, an artist in the North West, for pointing me to the Wordle site.


Twitter at the heart – a surprise for many

When I was talking about my own, very limited, experience of all this social media stuff recently I asked the people there what platforms (is that the right terminology?) they used. A few people had websites, less had blogs, quite a lot used Facebook but only a few used Twitter. Those who did have Twitter accounts had mostly let them lie dormant.

I wasn’t surprised, I’d always thought Twitter would be a waste of time myself, perhaps my biggest social media learning to date has been the role it can play in professional life. From hearing important news early and finding out what those you respect are reading and thinking about to extending networks and even, this week, advertising a job. I told them so, and have seen a few out of there tweeting already.

I had found some examples of classroom use of Twitter – like Class 10 where pupils use Twitter within their topic research  which seemed pretty radical practice compared to the fear many of the schools I work with have. It was good this week to be alerted by Zoe Elder (on twitter of course) to this post by Australian lecturer Miriam Tanti who discusses the value of Twitter more eloquently than I have managed, and from someone with experience of Facebook – which I didn’t have when setting out on this journey:

I’d like to thank Zoe (@fullonlearning) and my colleague Joyce for getting me onto Twitter. I have to say that I was quite skeptical with the whole concept of twittering: Did I really care to be informed of the latest movements of a group of people, many of whom I have never met? I mistakenly made the direct connection between the Tweet and the Facebook status … regular updates of what people are having for dinner, the documentation of their attendance to their child’s athletics carnival, their wishes to leave work and go to the beach … I’m sure you get the idea. All bits of information that really have no impact on my life, and honestly could do without. But I was pleasantly surprised!

Several weeks ago I created a Twitter profile @miriamtanti and whilst I have not yet made any significant tweets I have managed to locate key stakeholders and ICT educators and read about their latest endeavors. In such a short time the global network I have joined on Twitter has allowed me to access a wide variety of the latest resources, literature and research that each of my global counterparts are pursuing. The hours that they have saved me from trying to locate such information on my own via search engines and online databases, and the new insights and perspectives they have exposed me to – my teaching and research is all the richer for it.

In terms of global collaboration, networking and professional development there is no ICT tool that has made a greater impact than Twitter, every educator should get an account!

Well we’ll see how I get on with Twitter, after all it has only been a few weeks, but at the moment it is working for me too. Although I was a bit terrified by the tweeting stats of Louise Jones Channel 4 Young blogger of the year, proof if I needed it that I’m not a young thing! Congratulations Louise.


Why blogging works for me – part 1

When I set out on this process of having a blog, only a couple of months ago, I have to say I was a skeptic. I knew that I ought to have better awareness of these technical things – not then even knowing the phrase social media. My move to action was mainly because I was shamed by Ewan McIntosh at a conference pointing out that being technology illiterate limited the role you could take in designing effective education processes and enabling young people to be well placed in the contemporary world. I’m not one to naively jump on board when it comes to technology, after all I don’t even have a TV!, but this was tempting…..

That keynote was four days before a deadline to apply for a regional Creative Partnerships learning bursary and before I knew it I had put the two together and was off – with funding to enable Ewan to hold my hand along the way. What had seduced me into thinking it might all be a good thing was Ewan talking about using this ‘stuff’ effectively, to support what you wanted to do and save time. Now that was a radically different take for me – from the outside it looked like a time sink not a time release.

Ewan's how to...

So anyway out I set on this journey, with a list of activities set by Ewan and the promise of continuing support. As far as I thought we were in the set up phase – building a blog. No-one was going to be reading the blog as they wouldn’t know it was there and I dreamed of the benefits coming by the time we were a year in and this ‘learning network’ was up and running. How wrong!

What I have been amazed by is how quickly the process has been useful. In trying to understand blogs better I read  some other people’s in the spheres I’m interested in – and immediately some of those posts were useable in school project meetings, for instance:

  • In a project planning meeting a teacher spoke excitedly of “that place where pupils build things, they built a rollercoaster” I knew she was talking about  Gever Tulley’s work at Tinkering School – because I’d be reading about it only the night before. A small thing – but the joint understanding we had meant we could travel far quicker in planning discussions and the trust she had in me sharing her vision was invaluable.
  • Sharing school and pupil websites informed discussions with both a primary and secondary school about ways of capturing learning from a project – and in a format that encouraged parents engagement. With the potential of posts and videos being sent directly to parents e-mails and facebook accounts. Seeing other schools doing some of it made it feel much more possible for these schools. Showing them (found thanks to a post in Derek’s blog re-posting Richard Byrne’s slideshow)  helped them think about ways blogs could still be evidenced in pupil’s portfolios.
  • Having followed a link to Professor Sugata Mitra’s TED talk I discussed with a Headteacher about to equip his school with IT the value of group activity around computers rather than one computer per child – he shared the talk with his staff and they are considering buying better equipment but less of it to support group dynamics within child-led learning.

That is only the tip of a small but definitely present iceberg…And then there is the excitement of knowing what people you respect are reading – and reading it yourself. I didn’t expect to feel that sense of connection, or that people would inspire me so easily – simply being open with what they are curious about. Twitter has way more going for it than I would have thought – once I’d given myself permission to be okay with not having to read everything!

It is still very early days, I have my next list of ‘McIntosh tasks’ to take me forward. But I’m starting to let people know the blog is here and to get into conversations on other blogs, twitter and the like – moving out of the comfort zone of observer to participator. I’ve set up google reader to help monitor RSS feeds and the share the juiciest bits. I’m looking to build a team of people to blog with me, and  – well heaps more.

I’m even starting to talk about my learning and advocate the value of what I’m doing. The first session is tomorrow to colleagues at a Creative Partnerships meeting in the Tees Valley, and then next month I’m doing the same for Hull CP colleagues – who would have thought it.

Still no TV though – not in a hurry to change that one!

And we are off!

Argghhh – it is real. Here I am blogging. Setting up this blog has felt like stepping into the unknown but it has been fun exploring the possibilities.

I met with Ewan McIntosh in August, Ewan is an international name in new media and education so his kindness in talking me through the very basics – including correcting my spelling of youtube (whoops – we were talking basics you see) and smiling sweetly when I called him Ewan McGregor by mistake (deep cringe!!!) – was  very generous. I heard terms such as ‘social media embassies’ for the first time in my life before he sent me off with a long list of things to think about.

I spent what felt like for ever pondering names, finding out they had already been taken and getting back around the drawing table. I came up with Makes Me Excited….. because I heard myself saying it when describing to someone else what I wanted the blog to be – a place where all sorts of inspiring snippets exist that get me excited about the potential of artists and the education world working together.

Do sign up for blog update notifications in the box on the top right, comment away on the posts, offer ideas and links for material and  join me on the journey.