Monday, June 6, 2016

Why Tweet? Part 4: Collaborative Learning Standards, New Literacies, Old Literacies

Disclaimer: throughout this post Twitter is mentioned as a digital space.  Not all age groups access Twitter.  I mostly work with elementary where we use private share spaces within our learning community.  Where I mention Twitter, we could also be talking about Murally, Google Classroom, Google Docs, Padlet, TodaysMeet, message boards, and other digital share space.

“...Twitter’s strength is engaging us in divergent thinking…. brainstorming, networking and spontaneous, free-flowing exchange of ideas… for a powerful synthesis, use Twitter within the context of site-based collaborative inquiry. This dynamic duo offers [students] the divergent-thinking benefits of Twitter for networking and idea sharing within a focused context of deep inquiry to solve challenges…” - Tonya Ward Singer

Moving students through divergent and convergent thinking, individually and in what the d.School calls the “radical collaboration” mindset, is part of what has been identified in 21st Century Learning Skills, the new draft of the ISTE Student Standards, in the New Literacies, and is used by the Buck Institute in their collaboration rubric.  Our tech tools can often provide mirrors for reflection, here addressing three big questions:  
  • How is collaborative learning manifested from the unwritten Socratic dialectic to modern standards to frontiers of New Literacies? (this post)
  • How are digital spaces extensions of our physical spaces and what does that indicate about our theory of learning? (later post)
  • Where are current practices leading us in understanding new literacies and individual versus group production? (later post)

21st Century Learning

The Framework for 21st Century Learning stresses the redesign of learning environments using...
“multiple environments to teach and reinforce the value of communication skills.”  
In these “multiple environments” or spaces, the use of digital spaces both synchronously and asynchronously enables a broader range of modalities for student engagement.  The four C’s outlined (creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking) echo the d.School’s mindsets ...
“...students learn best from a mix of individual and group-based learning experiences...”
and continue...
“...collaboration can enhance the development of critical thinking skills.”

ISTE Student Standards

In January 2016 ISTE released a draft of the updated Student Standards which greatly expands both their descriptions of empowered student metacognition, multimodality of expression and communal divergent thinking thinking spaces.  These two domains show a new attention to documenting collective and individual process and product.  (finalized Standards to be released at ISTE in Denver this summer).
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New Literacies

“New Literacies” according to Henry Jenkins, surround participatory culture where digital tools enable remixes, mashups, gaming, media validation, curation and manipulations, and most importantly maneuvering through surrounding affinity spaces.  This new skill set, and some would argue is a "secondary orality" or "post-Gutenberg parenthesis" building from a much older skill set, includes...
  • Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
  • Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery
  • Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes
  • Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
  • Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
  • Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
  • Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal
  • Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
  • Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
  • Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
  • Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

This shift is happening from home, in after school programs, in alternative learning spaces, and is slowly becoming a part of our school's environment.

The Common Core

Anything related to creativity, innovation, or collaboration in the Common Core gets delegated to Speaking and Listening Standards, which make sense if you are creating standards whose objective is to create national measurements from standardized tests.  The subjective softer skills surrounding collaboration, the skills the job market is crying for, are not so easy to quantify with bubbles.  The anchor standard reads…

Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
...a watered down dialectic, but perhaps a fitting praise of Socrates who would not have approved of writing anything down for fear of making our memories weak.  The primary and elementary indicators invalidate the capacity of young minds to think critically and learn from the diversity of ideas around them.  Bill Gates and company apparently don’t know Ron Berger or the Emilia Reggio program.  By third grade students are basically expected not to talk out of turn and to “stay on topic”.  By ninth grade things get more interesting with clear parallels to ISTE Standards and New Literacies.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.C Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.D Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

Again, why the overlap with ISTE, 21st Century Learning, and New Literacies only comes under Speaking and Listening is unfortunate, but it does exist, and the standards provide pivotal points to bridge methods for reading and writing in collaborative space. Where project work is expected, the expectations for group collaboration get more specific.

The Buck Institute

The Buck Institute provides open source materials for managing project based learning where there is a clear emphasis on individual contribution, group critique, and collective product.  These segments come from their collaboration rubric…
  • uses feedback from others to improve work
  • asking probing questions
  • responding thoughtfully to new information and perspectives
  • gives useful feedback (specific, feasible, supportive) to others so they can improve their work
  • acknowledges and respects other perspectives, disagrees diplomatically
  • recognizes and uses special talents of each team member
  • tasks done separately are brought to the team for critique and revision

The d.School

The d.School at Stanford offers a series of mindsets and methods around project work centered around developing empathy for a user.  “Radical Collaboration” mandates a wide breadth of perspectives allowing for solutions to emerge from diversity.  Within their method set are improv routines for getting group dynamics synched into soft or hard focus, awareness of others and “stokes” to create an uninhibited environment open to innovation.  Critiques start with praise, “I like”, move to negatives, “I wish”, and move forward with suggestions for growth, “I wonder”.  The critique method is part of the opening of the classroom space for a culture of collaboration, and perhaps returns us to a much older, human centered learning.  

Returning to an Old Path

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, often wrongly reduced to “next step learning”, explains that a learner’s environment encompasses multiple tools, including peers and teacher, and these tools can leverage a broader scope of learning objectives within the learner’s reach.  Our assessment systems predominantly emphasize individual measurement, however the true measure should involve what students can do with the critique of their classmates.  Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence, or in flash summary form in Austin’s Butterfly, unpack this potential of learning community as part of Vygotsky’s toolkit.

"If you want to know your own soul, you must talk to other people." - Socrates

Before justifying Twitter as collaborative tool, we should consider Socrates.  The dialectic serves as the awakening of the intellect, and face to face discussion is still at the center (have you tried getting a digital dialectic going on a MOOC discussion board?).  Consider how University of Chicago's Junior Great Books strategically leverages the Symposium at the end of the week.  The small group, culminating 15 minute discussion, is the learning product.  All reading, writing reflections, and critical dialogues up to that moment front load student cognition leading up to the Symposium.  “Socratic Circles” (later post) discuss how Twitter or alternative digital spaces preload discussions before the event, and how all minds present at the event are activated.

More than two centuries later, Paulo Freire described teaching as a political act in which critical dialogues are at the center of this act, awakening both oppressors and oppressed.  His friend and collaborator, Augusto Boal, developed methods in participatory theater to define and explore problems often beyond participants' cognisance.  Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed opens up the idea that the game/play space of theater creates a low threshold entry into an uninhibited fail-safe space to explore empathy for divergent perspectives, and transform passive spectators into spect-actors ready to act upon this empathy.  In this process, if the student enters as willing player, an inevitable aesthetic, ethical, affective connection to learning occurs.  They key here is to extend our concept of space to include digital interactions as well, but also to pull back from the digital, not use it as a magic crutch, and make the collaborative practices living events within our physical space as well.

New Tool New Considerations

The thinking behind ISTE Student Standards, 21st Century Learning, New Literacies, Design Thinking, Buck Institute, and Common Core seem to agree that learning is socially constructed.  In exploring Twitter as part of this social construction I’ll expand on the following in upcoming posts…

  • social construction happens best when our learning spaces explicitly facilitate interaction with tools such as "thinking moves"
  • digital spaces are real extensions of our physical learning spaces and the same cultural rules must be established, each space must validate the other
  • digital space brings us closer to our private speech and inner dialogue, enabling both deeper metacognition, and authentic contribution to the group
  • digital space enables crowdsourced ideas instantaneously requiring a new understanding of space, purpose, and collective construction, we don’t have to wait for our “turn to speak”, nor should we wait until 9th grade to exercise collective intelligence, it is part of our innate toolkit

Our digital spaces are still very new, like new fetishized gadgets that we can’t wait to play with.  That impulse often inhibits their potentials and this is the wicked challenge, to manage ourselves before we manage our tools.  It's fair to say that, like photography was a technological curiosity for 100 years before the intent of the eye on the other side of the lens was taken seriously, the true potentials of our current tech tools have just begun. Jaron Lanier recounts his experience at SXSW a few years ago...

“After I took the stage, the first thing I said… was that it would be a worthy experiment for the audience to not tweet or blog while I was talking.  Not out of respect for me, I explained, but out of respect for themselves.  If something I said was memorable enough to be worthy of a tweet or a blog post later on - even if it was to register violent disagreement - then that meant what I said would have had the time to be weighed, judged, and filtered by someone’s brain.  Instead of just being a passive relay for me, I went on, what was tweeted, blogged, or posted on a Facebook wall would then be you.  Giving yourself the time and space to think and feel is crucial to your existence.  Personhood requires encapsulation.  Your have to find a way to be yourself before you can share yourself.” - Jaron Lanier

The next post explores how Twitter leverages an authentic expression of self within our learning spaces.


Berger, R. (2003). An ethic of excellence: Building a culture of craftsmanship with students. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Boal, A. (1985). Theatre of the oppressed. New York: Theatre Communications Group.

Boal, A. (1992). Games for actors and non-actors. London: Routledge.

Boraks, N. (1985). The Junior Great Books Program: Can Impact be Measured? Retrieved June 7, 2016, from

Buck Institute. (n.d.). 3-5 Collaboration Rubric (CCSS Aligned) | Project Based Learning | BIE. Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

EL Education. (2013). Austin's Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work - Models, Critique, and Descriptive Feedback. Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.

Preparing America's students for success. (n.d.). Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

ISTE. (n.d.). DRAFT 1 - 2016 ISTE Standards for Students. Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A. J., & Weigel, M. (n.d.). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Retrieved June 7, 2016, from

Lanier, J. (2010). You are not a gadget: A manifesto. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Partnership for 21st Century Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

Singer, T. W. (2015, July 29). Using Twitter to Enhance Professional Learning. Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

Singer, T. W. (2015, July 14). Should Twitter Replace Professional Development? Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

Singer, T. W. (2015, July 14). The Pros and Cons of Twitter for Professional Learning. Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

Sousanis, N. (2015). Unflattening. S.l.: Harvard University Press.

Vygotskiĭ, L. S., & Cole, M. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

New literacies. (n.d.). Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

D.School. (n.d.). Bootcamp Bootleg. Retrieved June 7, 2016, from

DSchool. (n.d.). Improv Toolkit for Educators. Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

DSchool. (n.d.). Improv activities for Design Thinking. Retrieved June 07, 2016, from

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Why Tweet? Part 3: Documentation Process and Purpose

Dork Alert! *

Last July at a gamification playground at ISTE an exuberant Ingress Agent installed the app on my phone.  Don’t know what Ingress is?  It’s an augmented reality massive multiplayer online location based exergame.  I had no idea what any of that meant, but I picked up pretty quickly that you move around a city hacking portals which are real objects, link the portals, and create energy fields.  So after conference sessions I’d put on my running shoes and jog the riverside of Philadelphia, which can be a trippy enough experience in itself (see video), and link portals.  You may have seen me, Rocky theme song at full volume running up the museum steps, shadow boxing at the top.  And there are portals all over Philadelphia!  Three miles, became five miles, became ten - I had gamified my workout!  I couldn’t make any of Alice Keeler’s 6 am EdCafe meetups because the running had me exhausted.  Weeks later in Bogota, exergaming all over the city, I made contact… with another agent, who sat me down and explained how not just the mechanics, but the community works!  The rabbit hole, the wardrobe, the train station, stargates, wormholes, event horizons leading to Oz, Narnia, Hogwarts, the Nether - Conrad’s threshold.  The narrative changed completely!  

* Bear with the tangential rambling… this of course is an entirely different post which will come out in Gamification part 2, and the podcast will feature interviews with some of these agents.  

A video posted by Chris (@cdveston) on

The same thing happened with Twitter.  It is its own world with rules and communities and mentors and those that need your help, and a rapid fire worldwide exchange of content.  Remember why you entered the field of education, that idealistic former self in love with the idea of working kids through a learning process, losing yourself in the sense of a purpose larger than yourself?  Those idealists are out there and many of them gravitate toward the open source network of Twitter.  To get to them, you just have to jump in.  A “lurking” period, what John Seely Brown calls “legitimate peripheral participation” is totally normal.  When you are ready for more than exchanging tweets, here are some ways to leverage the tool further (and please tweet out yours @chrisdaviscng).

Weekly Twitter Chats

Sit in on a few of these synchronously or asynchronously.  Anytime someone tweets something interesting, like the tweet, or even better retweet it to share it and it will be curated in your feed.  If there are links to content, open it in a new tab.  At the end of the chat you’ll have multiple tabs open to quickly browse through.  I separate these activities, for example scanning content requires senses on hyper-alert to make quick decisions of is this worth spending time on later?  Follow anyone that tweets cool stuff, now they are in your feed.  Tweet into these chats shamelessly.  Share links, ideas, questions.  This is not your faculty lounge where everyone is afraid to share for fear of one-upmanship.  Take a contentious tweet and quote it with a “yes, and…”.  Plus any tweet you can build on.  Twitter, and life I guess, are pretty boring if you just watch it pass by.  The next thing you know you’ll be at ISTE’s HackEd in a discussion circle suppressing giggles because you “twitter know” half the room from their tweets, blog posts, and content shared.  These chats can get specialized to every education niche.  Here are some starting points for chats… #dtk12chat #makerEdChat #edchat #txeduchat #leadupchat #satchat

Ask the World

Tweet out a question, whatever you need or content you are looking for.  It’s amazing how frequently responses come back.  Attach hashtags especially if you know there is a chat on that theme.  If you can hit the time of the chat, even better, because everyone will be on quick response mode.  Tag people specifically in the tweet.  The late Grant Wiggins was notorious for quick responses.  @cybraryman1 has curated the whole world wide web, tag him, he’ll know.  The disease in education is the inhibition to ask, for fear of appearing not to know in front of your peers.  Break this absurd conspiracy against learning and throw some questions out.

Mystery Skype

I have never done this but as part of a global ed initiative we are going to try over the next couple of weeks.  Skype didn’t work on our network supposedly for years but now it’s on.  @moniqueflick did this fifteen minutes before a workshop and connected educators between Bogota and Boston.  Ultimately where this could lead it getting student research teams together to work together in collaborative space and then communicate once a week.

Curate Everyone

This is your personal learning network and potentially your personal learning community.  It is healthy to maintain a constant dialogue with professionals beyond your school walls.  School culture gravitates toward a silo effect and many administrators want to keep it that way.  The advance of teaching and learning depends on creating cultures within AND maintaining openness beyond.  Find your sources of inspiration, curate them, and stay in contact.  The way teachers have appropriated Twitter is an incredible phenomenon.  The hashtag allows curations of any channel of content and discussion.  But this gets complex quickly.  Here are some third party apps to expand Twitter capabilities.


Create your own newsroom with multiple feeds based on individuals, lists, hashtags and combinations of these.  At enormous conferences like ISTE where you may be following multiple hashtags and individuals this helps stay on top of events within the event.  But even if you aren’t at events, you can follow conferences pretty closely.  No one can go to all of these conferences but by having their feeds going through Tweetdeck, we can keep on eye on trends all over the world.  Try following conferences one step outside of tech, #nabshow for example, to dream about education applications.  This helps you and your school be their own research and development center.


This is probably the greatest curating tool I know of in flipping through a mountain of content in a short period of time.  Thread you Twitter account, but even better, any hashtag or user through Flipboard and the content becomes like a digital magazine.  You can curate content and create your own magazines to share with others, follow others’ magazines, and share out links to magazines.  Add the “flip-it” button to your web browser on your computer and add content from there as well.  On the mobile app, a sixty second elevator ride could be spent curating content you want to read later.  This helps focus less on the tweet, and more on what others are reading.


Having a place to send selected content for reading later is important.  I use Pocket because it saves everything for offline reading, and I can tag and curate within the app as well.  My elevator ride from my apartment to garage is on average two minutes one way.  Add that up over a week, over a year that is on average 44 hours a year I spend in a transporter box or waiting for the transporter box.  Last year, I read over 1000 articles on Pocket, with help from the almost two days I spend in the box.  Pocket also moves across devices so if you need to pull that content up on your browser it is there too.


Whipping through content is important, but interacting with that content is much more important.  As we tell the students, it’s not what you read, it is how you think about it, what you do with it that counts.  So when I find that article I know I want to go deeper in I open from Pocket into its original for one browser.  With the Diigo extension on Chrome I can highlight the text parts that spark responses and export only the responses.  Diigo can also curate all of your web content, a simple extension will tag your content for later viewing.  This is also great for shared groups and communities.

Notes / Evernote

Because I work across Apple devices I use notes for responding in long form.  I write thoughts out off of the bulleted highlights I pulled from Diigo.  This second processing is critical to not only recalling later, but in solidifying what I was connecting with in the text.  For our podcasting this is also my process for creating inquires.  Read through a person’s blog posts or articles to really get at their strongest talking points.  (more on Podcasting below).  Evernote would be the more logical tool here, but as far as I know it doesn’t pull the highlights out of the text separately.  For collaborative processing the paid versions of Diigo and Evernote would allow for multiple readers highlighting and commenting off of the text.  I seem to need the linear list of highlights.  What I haven’t explored is highlighting and sketchnoting off of text for later reflection.

Evernote develops their own tech ecology for long form processing and collaborating.  I’m sure there are better ways but often we patch together the tools we have learned into a workable system internally before sharing out with others.  


After twitter chats these create a bundle of tweets to share out and archive.  There are Twitter chats like #dtk12chat where incredible ideas and content are shared out that it is worth reading through later.  For events this creates a democratized narrative from everyone’s perspective.  I think we have passed the uncomfortable adoption period when speakers seemed to be striving for the tweetable soundbyte, participation and interaction with others seems to be the way the medium is going.


Twitter is an incredible tool for divergent thinking, for getting tons of ideas out in a short period of time.  It’s kind of like a mini-conference experience, more information than we would even know what to do with it.  But there are Twitter chats that focus on one theme a week, sometimes with a question a day, that promote a longer thinking response to tweeting.  This often leads to blog exchanges.  In the next post I’ll go more into classroom uses or Twitter, but even among faculty, imagine PD set up around long form Tweets and blogs.

Blogging off of Tweets

The tweet that became a blog that became a book that changed the world.  Kind of like how we use post-its as mobile movable thoughts, we can use tweets the same way.  One tweet, or multiple tweets could become the storyboard for writing out ideas in longer form.  I often go back and search twitter feeds to find specific tweets that help explain ideas I’m trying to get out.  In the Journeys in Podcasting session on Transmedia there is a lot of discussion of how we are moving into a Post-Gutenberg era in which ideas sublimated into text no longer have to be bound and confined within books.  They can constantly keep being remixed and mashed up with other media forms into transmedia experiences.  That is what blogs curate, text with tweet with image with video clip and potentially with virtual reality experiences.  Social media can be a vacuous experience, our job is to leverage its use to go between divergent and convergent thinking.

Podcasting off of Tweets

A couple of years ago two other teachers and I started creating slides from projects, and then recorded our screencasts talking about the project.  It became a much faster, much more authentic, and fun way to document what had just happened over the last month.  Then last year two other teachers and I started Journeys in Podcasting.  We had become fascinated with Design Thinking (via Notosh at BLC13 and the d.School) and wanted to apply it to our own professional development.  For the research and outreach parts of our podcast, Twitter became the main vehicle for finding out who could speak to themes like tech integration, classroom space design, Mindfulness, etc.  We often document our journeys through tweets of experiences.  Then of course Twitter is the broadcasting platform.  

A photo posted by Chris (@cdveston) on

Disruptive Dialogue

Dr. Aaron Kuntz, in one of our first podcasts talked about the Disruptive Dialogue Project.  Recently graduated with doctorates, this group of researchers found themselves in a marginalized position - untenured, unable to publish unless bowing down to a rigid hierarchy of big name researchers, but wanting voice and the ability to contribute to their fields.  They first met at conferences and then began “disruptive dialogues” through video conferencing and other forms of social media.

“Eager to extend our conversations beyond the conference, we eventually self-organized, adopting structures and enacting practices that facilitated our shared interest in interrogating, interrupting, and resisting dominant methodological assumptions and research practices that perpetuate the marginalization of critical inquiry.”

At the AASSA conference an administrator talked about the “conspiracy against learning”, how our systems often inhibit innovation and critical inquiry.  Personal learning networks and communities are means to keeping the dialogue open to innovative ideas.  Conferences are great collecting points, online spaces serve to keep the exchange going.

“If you really want to create strong, critical scholars, you have to have a support structure for critical colleagueship ... you have to find critical colleagueship most often outside your department for political reasons, and most often off-campus.”

How does Twitter play into this dialogue?  There is a playfulness to social media, meaning serious play, in the way Homo Ludens discusses play as building block of culture.  What if we took our interactions to be a kind of playing around with ideas that could then be reassembled later into how we organize and define problems in education?

“...Our hope is to shed light on the methodological interstices which dot the landscape of educational inquiry and to encourage other critical scholars to inhabit the gaps and transform these spaces into sites of collaboration, resistance, intervention, and revolution.”

This isn’t the “revolution” in the sense of Bolsheviks or the Chinese Cultural Revolution.  It’s a revolution in communication, how dialogue is the beginning of acting upon one’s environment.  It’s a change in how decisions are made and how students and teachers get to take part in the directions schools take.  It’s about teachers not being implementers of programs but being designers of learning experiences connecting their own passions with those of the students. And it's about agile, antifragile systems, where healthy levels of chaos in a complex system allow for adaptability in times of change.

Ewan McIntosh and Mike Johnston both used the space of their workshops in dynamic ways taking advantage of the nature of distributed knowledge.  Ewan emphasized the “project nest”, in working up on your feed, in letting people and post-its move about, mix and regroup.  Mike had participants unpack complexities of systems with participatory simulations, round pit discussions, and inner/outer circle activities.  Kuntz and the Disruptive Dialogue Project also connected space with purpose of thought and human interaction.

“Rather than being constrained by the rigid structure of scholarly paper presentations (an hour and a half session equally divided amongst four tenuously connected scholarly papers and a set of brief and often times irrelevant discussant remarks followed by a rushed Q&A with the authors), the conference symposia or panel format provides us maximum flexibility with respect to the physical room layout, session outline, and facilitation style, allowing us to disrupt several academic conference norms that undermine our critical approach to the study of higher education. For example, refusing to assume the role of “experts” sitting at the front of the room, we make it a point to arrive early for our presentations, organize the chairs in a circle, and space ourselves out around the room with the intention of highlighting the dialogic nature of our work and this conference space. As such, the space in the center of the room/circle becomes the focus of attention.”

Democratized learning space, low thresholds for everyone to enter, space for collaborative construction, and no limits to individual contribution are all integral parts of this present and future learning model.  Extending these concepts into digital spaces such as Twitter and longer processing forms are elements that will create the tunneling between our silos, threading the webs of a dispersed learning environment, ultimately creating less fragile systems.

Be Mindful of Process

The d.School offers their Mindset of “be mindful of process” which I think applies to Twitter in the form of knowing when to apply divergent thinking (Go id!), to knowing when to get convergent (go planning and synthesis!).  Using “radical collaboration” to be open to all viewpoints, but knowing when to “craft clarity” and have a “bias towards action”.  I think part of the effective use of Twitter is making sure there is enough time to move between tweets, long processing, and active sharing.

In this most embarrassing Hangout where one participant clearly doesn’t know how to properly use screenshare, there is talk of a school in Venezuela where every classroom has a hashtag and teacher are encouraged to tweet out incredibly moments from their classroom.  There are no limit to the incredible moments happening within classroom walls every day.  Schools are such messy places, kids cry, fight, pick their noses, do mean things, don’t understand, get stubborn, shut down, throw things, hide frogs in their desks - but they are not eggshells (have you heard that stupid analogy, we can’t move fast and break things because kids are like eggs and we only have one chance, meow meow).  They are resilient, they cope with adults, they are amazing, every day.  

"We are what we know... we are what we want to learn... documentation is an act of love." - Carla Rinaldi

If we were able to catch just one amazing moment and use it for reflection, and then at the end of the week tell the narrative of all the amazing things that happened, then we are practicing how Dewey explained a learning "experience" as a moment in time as a possible future self. Maria Montessori placed photographs of children performing at their best academic behaviors for students to reflect on, build self esteem, and grow towards that future self. Mara Krechevsky delves into the complexity of documentation and how purpose should be clearly defined for it to have meaning, and how documenting learning is a political act against system of high stakes testing. Documentation and narrative creation through multiple mediums will keep us focused on the important larger learning outcomes and not overemphasize our tri-strangulation of data.

Start with Students

This has been the adult centered focus of Twitter.  I am no expert, in fact I learned most of this from talking to people at conferences, from tinkering around alone.  At my school there are two or three people that dabble in Twitter.  To get it going I think it has to start from the top, especially if your school has a clear set of success criteria that everyone is striving for.  But my initial experiences with Twitter were attempts at connecting student school work with parents and the extended learning community.  In the next post I’ll talk about classroom uses like backchanneling, creating authentic audience, engaging in the writing process, and connecting classrooms.


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