Friday, June 3, 2011

Follow Friday Works for You

A lot of Twitter users have come across a little happy Friday event called "Follow Friday". Today is Friday and you might see these attached to tweets:

#Follow Friday

What's this all about? 
Well, it's a fun little part of twitter that keeps things social. People follow people and on friday they suggest to other followers a certain few that everyone should take a look at and follow to get their tweets.

Awwweeee. How nice right? 
But is there any value in that? Should you participate?
I've seen this handled as a reward (follower accomplishes something for the tweeter, tweeter tweets their name to the group and what they did for them), and I've seen it handled as a meere superficial way to get that person to feel guilty enough to tweet their name to their followers for that Friday. This is usually handled by a series of tweets that just have at-tagged names for 140 characters at a time. I've also seen this handled rather sloppily, "Hey I follow @whomever - you should follow them too #FF". But why should I? I've only got so much twitter realestate, what do I get out of following this person?

So in light of too much of the above, here's some best practices I've come up with that will add value to your Follow Friday:

1.) Select ONLY a few for that Friday... don't worry there will be another Friday... It's hard to find the value in your tweets if every Friday all you do is take up my twitterealstate with at-tags. It's annoying, and I'll use the secret "#UFS" (unfollow Saturday - I really just made that up) on you after a month of those.

2.) Tell me WHY I should follow them! What makes their tweets so special? If I follow you for a reason am I going to get even better stuff in that same field? Will I get a laugh out of them? Are they just a great resource for random information? Are they like, totally, the best ever friend ever omg?! Honestly, I won't even look at the profile if I don't know something about them. I skim over blank and unexplained at-tags.

3.) Keep it to your audience. Follow Friday's can still show off that you are a good resource for quality information and a subject matter expert. You are giving your audience people to add to their "who I'm following" list. If they are a conservative bunch, don't tell them to follow the Huffington Post. If they are business minded and highly aware of their persona online, don't give them The Onion.... etc

Follow Friday is a quality form of flattery. Chances are, the one you suggest might just suggest you down the road, or at least they might retweet you. Especially if you give your followers the reason why the tweeter is worth following. It makes a more personal connection with that individual... and this is all about being social.
And again, Follow Friday is a way to show off that you are a subject matter expert. You know who to follow for the best stuff in your field. It shows off that your are a resource for good info and someone worth following come #UFS

Tweet an update a little like this: Hey everyone, follow my colleague @whomever ! they are probably you'll never look at pizza the same way again #FF followfriday #FollowFriday

There's an at-tag (@) in front of the person's name which allows anyone who sees your tweet to click and see that person's profile. It also alerts "whomever" that they've been mentioned in a tweet.
Then there's the hashtag (#) in front of the common Follow Friday verbiage. This signifies to everyone that you're not just hawking names, you are actually a little bit twitter savvy and you are putting out good suggestions for your followers.

NOW... go get your Follow Friday on ---

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tips for Overwhelmed Teachers

I'm at the Heartland eLearning Conference. We just heard a VERY inspiring lecture by Dr. Michael Wesch on digital citizenship, critical thinking, and how our learning must change good stuff here - read the notes, watch the videos -

I saw a lot of university professors and IT directors glaze over with all the info and no idea where to start... So maybe I can help!

In order to be "Up to date" with technology, you have to be engrossed in it with the knowledge that you are NOT EVER going to be "up to date".
There, that should take away some pressure, right? What I'm saying is, JUST START!  sooooooo

A.) Sign up for an account.
5.) Follow a celebrity you are interested in. (I followed film directors so that it would bring me back to Twitter every day to see what was happening on set - maybe you'd rather follow a professional athlete instead. These are ideas)
IVX.) stop worrying about formality. Twitter is social! It does not matter if you spell it "great" or "gr8", whatever it takes to get your point across in 140 characters works. Most of the web is social,

Hence my ridiculous formatting and complete lack of numeracy skills above - you want to keep reading this, you would probably just save link to read later if it looked like a white paper.

Here's one of my latest tweets we can break down:
highlighted is an example of bad grammar. but did you read it? did you get confused as to what I meant? did you have an issue with understanding if I was trying to say, "it is a good" or whether it was a possessive pronoun with a made up word "agood"? No, and I had to do it to get in 140 characters. And guess what else? A pretty smart guy responded that I made an "excellent point". So apparently it's cool... right?

Speaking of responding:
the "@" symbol in front of a user name is a way to call out to a person on twitter and keep the conversation open. jcraig23 got an alert that I was talking specifically to him or about him because I tagged him with the "at tag".

And while on "tagging":
the "#" symbol is called a "hash tag". It is a way to jump into a conversation with a group of people and keep it open for anyone to follow along. So everyone at the conference is taking notes and making observations with the hashtag, and I can see what's going on and who is here.

and this brings me to Purpose:
How and Why is this important? I can do things like follow other session notes while I'm in a different session. At the end of the day I can go back and look at links, blogs, and ideas from the conference. I can encourage others to follow along or even join the conversation. I can do things like figure out where the certificate table is or even find out where I can get a free hug (at the registration table apparently).

Quit worrying about privacy. Use your twitter account as an extension of yourself, not to present your "professorship". Again, it's social. You are a person. A person who is interested in Troy Aikman, occasionally adds pepper jack cheese to random foods, is a lifelong learner, and a good teacher. So be that on twitter. There's no need for two twitter accounts.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Interactive Instruction

Good instruction is engaging.

Questions are inherently engaging.

How do you make a lecture interactive?
            Ask questions that could take a discussion in a different direction.
How can you do this online?
           Embed a video of a lecture with solid visuals
           Make the students answer the questions DURING the lecture. They have to answer every question posed but maybe the question itself is not highlighted. ... let's talk about this more.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Facebook IS a wiki / Facebook > Wiki

Here's a secret. Do NOT tell anyone:

Facebook is a Wiki !!!!! – “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Jake?”

Don't believe me? Look at your Facebook account. Look at all the functions. Now look at your wiki and its functions.

Now here's a hint:
Just because you don't know where the buttons are, doesn't mean it's more complicated. I know what I’m doing with both... want to know why you’ll never see me make a wiki? Guess which one is more complicated.

Here's my idea:
Do what you do on a wiki in Facebook. Things will be less complicated for you AND!!!!!! your students!!!!!! Trust me, I’m a specialist. Guess which one will be more rich and beneficial for students when it comes to 21st Century Literacy. (Wiki’s are sooo 2000’s)

No, you don’t have to be their friend to do this.
Yes, you can keep your personal info safe AND not look at theirs.
Yes, you can make a Facebook group private so only your students can be in it.
Oh, wait... you don’t have a Facebook account? Oh, but you have set up a wiki? You mean you had time to set up a wiki without prior knowledge of how to do it?

When your students get online are they dying to log in to your wiki? What if your wiki was hanging out where they are hanging out? Yeah, your wiki. Like it’s a person or something.

I’m just sayin’... Just sayin’.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

ipad returns pay subscriptions

Vomiting Intellectually here (don't judge me grammar!)


found the link to this video here:

MY BRAIN NEURONS THAT CONNECTED: people will start paying for magazine subscriptions again. this will change our economy back to a pay method (right now it's all about what's free and if you don't have free content you don't get noticed)

but people will follow people who do provide free services - bloggers and microbloggers - because those individuals will be considered subject matter experts who will point them in what they feel is the right direction - so they won't waste money. relying on a free content provider saves time and money.

So the bloggers will suddenly become EXTREMELY important in advertising for a product. Which means businesses will fall all over themselves to get bloggers to review their products and services.

Proof? - did you even watch the entire video before you skimmed my bolded words?

TEACHERS: Want to give your students a leg up? Create bloggers out of them. Mold their critical eye in the subject you teach, and that processing power will transfer over to their interests, if not shape their interests more in your subject. Sometimes it's more important for them to write the way I'm writing now than it is to correct their grammar for an essay (remember to get to your objective).

ADMINISTRATORS: Start requiring typing as a core! Typing is faster than hand writing. Typing makes it easier to process ideas. Typing will be the skill needed in most any work environment. Don't get me started on the power of the ability to type - the doors in the mind that are opened by this skill.... or maybe do... next time?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Save Competition: Our Dying Value

So... recently we in education have really sought out to destroy "competition". "WE" are frightened by the competitive nature of humans and particularly by how it singles out those frail children who aren't good at anything.

Okay, so I agree. Some kids are not good at anything, and posting their math grades on the wall in a little airplane race is humiliating.

Dodgeball for some... Worst. Idea. Ever. I mean, the idea that we could get physical exercise by taking out the kids who need to exercise most, within the first few minutes of the game...? (Man, I love dodgeball. I'd play professionally if it weren't for the fact that I would DOMINATE humiliate EVERYONE!)

These days, educators are so concerned about feelings that we are trying to get around current issues with the child rather than looking at long-term affects and finding a balance. I think when a child grows up not knowing how to compete, not knowing how to win and how to lose (or that maybe losing isn't the end of the world) then they become very sore losers.

When they get laid off - they move in with their parents and quit looking for a job because they are depressed.

They take a trip to Mamby-Pamby Land instead of to some investors to start their own business.

Instead of continuing to improve, continuing their education, they stick with meaningless-to-them-jobs and they hop from job to job. They can't find a challenge in the old job anymore. No wonder it gets boring. No wonder we have a growing population of kids who will change CAREERS more than 15 times in their lifetime.

Hey, when the bank you own goes under because you were a moron, you don't pull up your bootstraps and start a new business... You beg the government for a bailout and fly out to your yacht in the Bahamas to "recover from stress"... and they comply because they are AFRAID OF THE CHALLENGE of what that would do to the economy because our nation is a bunch of consumers (whoa, this is turning into a full on rant).

When we don't know how to compete, we lose an edge and a spark. Our biology is competition. Our society is competition. Our economy is competition! No competition is against our very nature.

I say the problem is NOT competition. The problem is not having the right competition.

The fact is that we DO have to take into consideration our students' feelings. They are fragile. They are being shaped. Teachers all have those kids who we can't figure out why they withdraw from everything. They end up not doing well in school even when they are extremely smart. And right there is the trick.

Even employers need to consider their employees and how they are motivated. Keep the job fun and challenging, show the person where the success are they can achieve, and that employee might just stick around the company. There is no success without competition - whether internal or external.

Competition is about finding success and dealing with failure. 

When a child is constantly dealing with failure, they of course will have no motivation. Or maybe they do become sore losers because they're so frustrated. People who succeed all the time are actually great at losing. They may deal with frustration, but they often get right back into another game because they know it's not over.

Any inventor will tell you how good they are at failing. And a great salesman might tell you they strive to receive a quota of "No" from clients because they know they sale to a certain percentage of the people they ask to buy. So a "no" moves them closer to the person who will say "Yes".

So... Can you come up with enough ways to make competition for your students? Enough ways so that everyone is going to find some success? Or do you have the creativity and the excitement to get overjoyed for a child's personal success even when it seems minor?

Example of not how to do it: Rope climbing. Was there ever a kid that made it to the top of the rope that didn't make it EVERY TIME? At least in dodgeball the slow kid eventually figures out he can catch the ball and then that's what he does every time, thus becoming a threat.

Here is the power of positive words. Even when someone doesn't win, you can celebrate what success they might have had. And when you can tap into how much they need that celebration - you aren't patronizing them.

My best example, and how I discovered this thought process, is from coaching T-Ball. Not every kid has the perfect swing. But when they make contact with the ball, and you start cheering, they start running to first base with great intensity. And they love the game for that. 

You give them high-fives for making it over to first. You give them BIG high-fives for not piling on a grounder that didn't come their way. And you cheer for the kid even when they take 2 minutes to set their feet and throw the ball while just looking at first base.

And when they ask if their team won, you respond whole-heartedly, "YES!" (notice there is no qualification that "everybody wins"). And if the kids start to argue, then you can tell them that one won batting, because... and the other won running because... And they LOVE baseball because of the great success. And how will that shape their idea of baseball when they play competitively? When they aren't on the starting lineup? I can tell you from personal experience of someone who was a star on a very successful little league team but rode the bench through high school until my senior year - You still love the game. And you naturally find ways to see where you are better than others in certain aspects of the game.

And it carries over to school. To work. To life.

Don't kill the competition.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Social Media Can Make You and Students Better People

Think about it:

You get online. You connect to your students with Facebook or Twitter. You follow their blog. You are suddenly a presence in a world that has mostly given the cover of anonymity.

You teach your students how to use Social Media to their advantage to get a good job, to impress scholarship boards. You teach them how to research, how to research and connect to people, mentors, colleagues, and subject matter experts. You will be the role model.

What is the effect on you and your status updates? Will you start to rethink how that update might be perceived? Say it is about a well known club where a friend had too much to drink. Will you tweet about that this time? Are your children Facebook friends? Are there children a Facebook friend? Is their boss your friend? The clients? Your clients?

If you recognize that your updates are a record of your life that will be kept forever, and thus track-able by your grandchildren... will that affect what you update? And since you enjoy being connected and updating about your life because you see the potential in passing on your life and values to your family in a way your grandfather couldn't do, will that begin to change your decision making process so that you can continue to update at the usual rate?

What if you pass that record-keeping idea on to your students. Will it effect their decisions? Will it cause them to think, "what is my status update going to be about this situation?" or "what will my friend tweet?". Or, "I don't want my area code to be on Texts From Last Night."

At an inconsequential level, will it cause you to go ahead and run grammar check on your "stream-of-consciousness" blog because you are in education and as you type, the concept of "affect" or "effect" has escaped you?

I ask you consistently, "what are the stakes of not engaging our students online?" 


What is the potential?