2009 has been the year of e-learning for me. I have come a long way since I did my very first Tweet in June of this year sitting in a Shopping Centre (Mall) and telling the world that I was just sitting around and waiting for my wife who was clothes shopping!
For weeks I did little else on Twitter and had 1 follower ( a Filipino girl if I remember rightly whose reason for following me or ability to pick me out of the ether of Twitterers amazed me!). I did though have a breakthrough called TED Talks.
I have explained elsewhere the influence that these talks had on me. In regards to the start of a learning journey though my breakthrough to the power of Twitter as a networking tool came from following Chris Anderson the man who runs the TED organisation.
I received a direct message from him on Twitter. It detailed how to condense text using a URL shrinker (I initially used bit.ly and now use hootsuite) This allowed me to write large amounts of text for a blog entry such as this and then shrink the URL and use this as a hyperlink in my Tweet.
I attempted this with a piece I had written In Praise of Ted which I posted to an online blog called “Posterous” that Chris had suggested as a quick and easy way to post thoughts, reflections or even articles and then hyperlink it for Tweets.
I received back a URL for my “blog entry” and then posted this as a shortened bit.ly URL into a Tweet and it really worked. This was a powerful moment for me as I was turning from a passive user of the technology to a contributor.
I started to learn that web 2.0 was all about contributing. That we all had something to say and opinions that we could send to others and also that we could receive their views, ideas and links. There was a brave new world emerging for me from the mist of online watcher, I was now a participant!
My next breakthrough came from finding a Tweet from a certain Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby). This publicised an “Educator’s PLN“. I had no idea what a PLN was but as an educator who now knew I could participate, I felt I could investigate this further. I followed the hyperlink to the site.
I found that this was a Ning site and that Nings were Social Networking sites that allowed like-minded individuals to discuss items with each other and also get to know who other were (I picked up a number of colleagues to follow on Twitter from this).
I also found a number of really good videos had been posted about such things as the #140 Conference, social networking and also an organisation called Classroom 2.0 which was run by someone called Steve Hargadon (@stevehargadon). I found these Ning sites to be a mine of in formation. I got to know about other leading figures in the “2.0 community” eg., Eric Sheninger (@NMHSprincipal) (a High School Principal who has done some great things using Twitter in his school), Shelly Terrell,an EFL teacher who lives in Germany but is a dynamic proponent of web 2.0 and how it can transform education and Steve Anderson (@web20classroom) who to use his own bio from twitoaster is a Technology Educator, Blogger, Co-Creator of #edchat, Character at the #140Conf and Winner of the 1st Ever NOW Award!
It was #edchat an online discussion forum that runs in Twitter twice on Tuesdays every week (5 p.m. GMT, 6p.m. CET) and (Midnight, GMT, 1 a.m. CET) that marked my next development as a participator in the discussion about how technology is transforming our educational world.
I got home at about 4.55 p.m. on a Tuesday evening in late November and went online through Twitter. The discussion was about the value (or otherwise) of lengthening the school day (as president Obama wants to do in the U.S.). I had my opinions on the matter and found that there were literally dozens of others online at the time who also had their opinions. We challenged each other, agreed with each other and talked to each other (via twitter) it was exhilarating! I came to the end of the discussion mentally exhausted but excited.
I picked up a few more contacts from the discussion. My Twitter followings had now risen to above 300 and I was pleasantly surprised to see that over 100 people were following me.
The next step was to become a blogger! I tried doing the online posterous as mentioned above but wanted something more permanent that I could see. I went to “edublogs” and started my own blog.
I had never really done a blog before but now felt empowered to tell others what I thought and what I had found from my online investigations and what I picked up from the seemingly never-ending supply of links and ideas from Twitter friends.
I found that I could not get the Edublog that I had created to do what I wanted it to. I felt somewhat frustrated that I could not download videos easily and that the look of the site did not look as I really wanted it to.
So I came to WordPress and the blog that you are reading this post in is the result. It is not yet the finished article, but I am quite proud of what I have managed to achieve in such a comparatively short space of time.
As 2009 ends I have much to look forward to. I am now a small presence in the debate about the future of education. I have contacted with a number of really important thinkers, movers and shakers in the education world and I have been given the freedom to contribute my voice, my ideas, my learning to the debate.
One of the most important people that I have found out about this year is Curtis J. Bonk. I am presently reading his book “The World Is Open” which I have written about as another post in this blog ( The World Is Open). I was particularly pleased when Curtis took the time and trouble to respond to my posting about his book. If you have the opportunity please look at his comments and also look up his website http://worldisopen.com/ .
The World really is open and there are lots of exciting developments ahead. There are problems too, as I said yesterday in reply to a tweet from @thecleversheep we have a problem with inertia from teachers who (as he said) are beneficiaries and successes of our present educational system. I pointed out though that inertia is a fascinating concept (to a non physicist like me) that a body that is still will remain still but once it is pushed and starts to roll it will continue to gather momentum. I know that the revolution in educational technology will move the still body some day soon and then the future will be exciting for all of us learners.
Happy New Year to all my friends and readers!