The value of a network

According to Twitter, I’ve had an account since 2007. Before that, I took the traditional approach to learning.

That typically meant signing up for courses, taking workshops, going to conferences, and doing a lot of error and trial. With my background, my focus typically was education, technology, and technology in education. I make no apologies for that. That was my job and I’d do anything (well many things) to stay on top of things. I shudder when I look at some “leaders” who are still mired with approaches of years gone by.

Being a member of Twitter changed all that although not much in the beginning. A Twitter account only works when you follow and interact with smart people. A trite phrase back then was “the smartest person in the room is the room”. I still see it these days but it had a more special meaning for me back then.

These days, I follow a lot of people. Some I follow directly and others I follow on Twitter lists, private and public. Ontario Educators should know about the lists since they’re my resource for Friday mornings. My routine for learning involves a number of things but I really value the inspiration that appears in those lists.

In addition to letting the lists generate content, I’ve started documents for each of the lists. Daily, it pulls together inspirational content from members and puts them in a newsletter format. On my timeline, it will look something like this.

These documents provide such a wealth of information. Just click the link in the Twitter announcement above. I’d be lying if I told you that I read them from cover to cover although I try my best.

From these, I get a sense of what’s relevant enough from others to share it along with a continuous feed of news stories. They’re not always about technology or education and that’s a good thing. We all like following politics.

Here’s a perfect example of some learning that I was only able to have as a result of someone sharing it and making it part of a document.

Here’s What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020

Click through for the entire graphic and story.

For those that think they know everything, it really should be a humble realization that there is so much available to learn. It brings back another old trite phrase “the internet is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant”.

For those who are not connected, this should serve as motivication to get connected and connected to wise people. I so value those in my lists or, as I like to call them, “Active Ontario Educators”.

The connections made and their value supports the notion that learning never ends. It’s almost criminal when people join Twitter because they were required to because of some course and then drop it when the course is over.

Of course we live in interesting times. These times, technology, and education are not sitting still for anyone. We all need techniques to try and stay in sight of things. This is one of the ways that I do it myself.

What’s up?

One of the things that do to try my best to stay current, at least on Twitter, is to check out the “Trends for You” in the sidebar of the web client. When I’m using Tweetdeck, I have a column set to display the trends.

As an aside “Ryan Newman” was trending when I went to bed last night as his status was unknown. He’s still trending this morning and for good news.

Anyway, Twitter lets you set a local option so that you can see what’s happening around you.

But what if you want more than that. Like, say, what’s happening in locales across Canada. It can be done with a little work at the keyboard or you can use the website CanadaTrends for the task.

Just now …

It was interesting to scroll through the page and see what’s the same (actually quite a bit) and what’s different between cities. “Oilers”, for example is hot in Edmonton which makes sense. The geeky in me did take a look at the page source to see just how it was done.

If you want more, check the bottom right and there’s a link to trends worldwide as well as a Twitter account for CanadaTrends.

Since this application is all about location, I was a bit concerned by trackers but Firefox gave it an all-clear.

The site also throws in Google Search trends in Canada for good measure.

Schedule me a Tweet

For me, this has been a long time coming.

I like using Tweetdeck and it has the ability to schedule a Twitter message sometime in the future. I use that technique all the time. The first #FollowFriday message is always created and scheduled on Thursdays to appear Friday at 5:00am in conjunction with a blog post. On Wednesday, I’ll send out a message about the voicEd Radio show and it goes out at 9:00am.

In neither case, am I sitting at a keyboard ready to click as the clock strikes the hour! There are other times when I’ll space a Twitter message out during the day for whatever reason. I’ve just blown my excuse for an alibi.

All of this gives the illusion that I’m terribly organized! <grin> Ditto for blog posts, they are written well in advance and scheduled for 5:00am daily or 5:00pm on Sundays.

But back to Twitter.

The problem with Tweetdeck is that there is a lot of scripting that goes on to make it work. That can be brutal on a Chromebook with its lesser powered processor. It’s not to blame either, I’ll point the finger at myself. I have all kinds of columns with lists and searches that are constantly at work. So, I do find myself waiting for the computer to catch up with me. The worst part is that I need the scheduling feature that Tweetdeck offers at times.

So, it was with great happiness that I read today that Twitter is going to bring scheduling into the plain ol’ web interface. It’s Thursday as I write this post and I just finished Friday’s blog post. The last thing I do is schedule a #FollowFriday post for tomorrow morning and the first one always lists those whose blog posts will appear. I used the new scheduler to make it happen.

I just ask Twitter to start a new message and there was a … in the dialogue box which indicated that I could schedule the message. I just needed to tell it when.

and then the message itself

and I click Schedule and it goes into a queue somewhere to be posted at the appointed time.

Now, I’m writing this on Thursday so the message will appear on Friday and then this post will appear on Saturday bragging about my success.



What a morning. Nothing seemed to work.

I tried to get into Tweetdeck. No go.

It was Wednesday so my voicEd Radio show with Stephen Hurley was on tap. Zencastr wouldn’t work. Stephen had me download an app. The sound didn’t meet his audio standards so we tried dialing in. I couldn’t hear him. We did end up with a fourth solution that seemed to work. Hopefully, he can find the recording!

So, back to Tweetdeck. It’s still not functioning. I’m a little frustrated because I have lists for everything and my routine involves running down my five Ontario Educator lists to see what’s going on around the province. I was too lazy to try my Plan B – I have links to each of them in my Bookmarks so I just skimmed the Trending Topics.

One leapt out at me.


It’s a hashtag, a username, and a website.

I must have missed another memo.

Looking through the hashtag was a delightful rabbit hole. With prompts, people are sharing sketches (tattoos?) that are so intriguing.

This is an area that I have no talent whatsoever so I can just sit back and enjoy. The one word that comes to mind is simply “wow”!

There can’t possibly be any copyright claims since people are eagerly sharing them in this public space.

But, wow, there certainly are some talented people.

In case you missed it above, click here.

Edutwitter Celebrities

I’ll blame/credit Stephen Downes for leading me down this rabbit hole. I read his OLDaily every day. If I do nothing else, I enjoy his commentary on the articles that he shares and, more often than naught, I’ll follow a link or two in his story summary to learn more.

This past week, this came across.

And off I went!

It took a bit of work because the links to Twitter didn’t work well with the new Twitter but eventually, I got it to take me to the right place. And what a deep rabbit hole. It all started with a conversation inspired by this Twitter message.

Along the way, I ran into opinion and shoutouts against a couple of people who have left the profession early and made a job of speaking. One person mentioned that she had ended up being blocked by this person. Follow the second link in Stephen’s story for that one.

It also leads to this article from a couple of years ago that will have you thinking, I hope.

The bottom line is that Edutwitter Celebrities or EduCelebrity isn’t something that you want to necessarily aspire to be! Link above actually goes to a parody account. It’s worth the click to read the timeline.

I couldn’t help but draw a mental comparison to your typical educational speaker before Twitter. Certainly, I’ve sat in that audience and listened to many a professional learning event speaker waxing on about what I was doing wrong and that my classroom should be more like this mythical classroom that is so well described but never really identified which makes you think it might be the things that dreams are made of.

In my work with ECOO and the WesternRCAC, I’ve hired many a keynote and have tried to avoid the speaker who drops in for a canned speech, collects her/his cheque, and then departs. I always insisted on having a breakout session immediately after the keynote called “A Conversation with …” where those who want to dig deeper on the concepts from the keynote and to challenge some of the statements given. The response when explained to the potential speaker can range from “That’s a great concept” to “I’m not coming if those are the rules”. Maybe afraid of saying Stupid Things?

One of the drawbacks of the popularity of social media platforms is that anyone can promote anything (and usually do, starting with themselves). We talk about media literacy so much – is identifying the true person behind the handle something that should be on the list. You had better have nodded to that sentence.

I’ve delivered many sessions myself and always enjoy the opportunity to talk about things afterwards. I think that it forces you to prepare better, make it relative to the potential audience, and really know your stuff. I’d hate to be called out on a fact or two that I couldn’t defend.

It’s called “making it real”. So, if I had to define #Edutwitter Celebrity, I think that would be the tipping point for me. It’s not about describing the ideal school with perfect students all achieving at huge levels and creating moon lander simulations with Micro:bits or some other technology that you don’t have and probably never will. That school doesn’t exist. It’s about describing concepts and practices that work in the mix that all classrooms have.

It’s also about those that put themselves out there by describing their professional practices and weaknesses and entertaining suggestions for improvement or enhancement. Quite frankly, that’s what inspires me to identify great Ontario Education bloggers every Friday. These are real classroom professionals talking about their own little corner of education reality. They’re the ones that you are to believe and to learn from.

My celebrities from the past week include:

  • @Dunlop_Sue
  • @staoapso
  • @raspberryberet3
  • @mcguirp
  • @PCMalteseFalcon
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @mediasee

So, here is a complete list of my personal #Edutwitter Celebrities’ blogs.

And, a tip of the hat to Stephen for bringing this discussion to my attention.