#RIP ?

Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when I was out and about away from my keyboard and I happened to look at my phone. Twitter had been left on and, in particulary, I had the “What’s Happening” screen open. I do find it interesting to see what is going on in the world and what people are talking about.

Sometimes, it turns up interesting things; sometimes, it doesn’t.

In this case “#RIP Twitter” was trending!


According to this article on The Verge a subscription option will be made available on Twitter in the future. So, you could charge people for your content or likely, your premium content.

The payment feature, called Super Follows, will allow Twitter users to charge followers and give them access to extra content. That could be bonus tweets, access to a community group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating your support. In a mockup screenshot, Twitter showed an example where a user charges $4.99 per month to receive a series of perks. Twitter sees it as a way to let creators and publishers get paid directly by their fans.

It’s not a new concept. I’m thinking particularly of online newspapers that only offer subsets of their content for free. This comes in the form of only allowing you to read # articles a month or you only get the headline and pay for the article or there’s just this super secret area that only paid people get access to.

I’ve been around Twitter for a long time. I always thought of it as “citizen journalism” where groups of us would share our learning and thoughts. Once it took off though, having a presence became really important for companies and media services. If you’re not on Twitter, you lose out on a quick and effective way to reach a larger audience.

But are you willing to pay for it?

I can see it as a business plan. But is it a plan that you want to buy into? The general concensus of those posting to that hashtag is that they wouldn’t.

As of yet, we don’t necessarily know all of the details.

My immediate thought is that we would lose an element of Twitter that makes it Twitter. People sharing ideas and thoughts with others. If I’m a business, am I going to stop participating in favour of a paid service where I could make more money for myself and Twitter as broker?

We’re already seeing promoted Twitter messages. Would we see even more as people / businesses try to get you to buy in to their services? Of course, we could unfollow them but promoted messages are there no matter what.

Would it lead to a noisier conversation place? Or would it lead to a quieter one?

I’d be interesting in your immediate thoughts. Would you hang around if the new model kicks in? If you wouldn’t, where would you go? Is this the end of online collaboration?

Please take a moment and share your thoughts.


April TweetMeet

Each month, Microsoft in Canada hosts a TweetMeet for educators.  This month’s will be held on Tuesday, April 2 starting at 7pm ET.

This month, a number of people on the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario’s (ECOO) executive will join others in hosting at meet titled “Included: Accessibility, Equity, and Inclusion!”

What are #MSFTEduChat Canada TweetMeets?

Every month, Microsoft in Education Canada organizes a social event on Twitter for Canadian educators. The hashtag we use is #MSFTEduChat. A team of topic-specialists prepares and hosts these TweetMeets together. They craft questions around a certain theme and share them on Twitter, then our digital attendees strike up a conversation around that topic.
All you have to do is keep an eye on the hashtag and contribute any insights, ideas, or expertise to the conversation. Or you can just listen in! It’s a great way to connect and learn.

Details about the TweetMeet are located here.

Join in – the Twitter Hashtag is #MSFTEduChat.

Plan Now for a Year of Social Success

Welcome back to school in Ontario.  Today’s the big day for most.  I decided to drag out this old “Post from the Past”.  It goes back to the start of the school year in 2012.  I thought that it was good advice then and I am equally as convinced that it’s just as good or better advice today.  I’m not sure that I would change it much if I was writing it today.  One of the things that comes to mind might be to include a class Instagram account in addition to the Twitter account.

It’s funny; having written this so long ago – I can actually put faces and names to the social media activities described in the post.  Can you?

Are you one of them?  If so, why not take a moment and share in the comments exactly what it means to you and how you do it.

Labour Day!

The last day before getting back at it. Flash forward 9 months and the school year will be just about over but you’ll be scrambling for content for the yearbook and/or end of the year assembly. A little planning now could make that so easy and social media is the answer.

All that is will take is a Twitter account and a blog. Done properly, all the pieces will just fall into place.

First Step – Grab that Hashtag
Hashtags are Twitter’s way to tag or follow a conversation. Before your students even cross the threshold into your classroom, decide on your class’ hashtag. #MySchoolG5R3 or whatever will uniquely identify your classroom. This is the basis for retrieving all the data that you’ll create. (Do a quick search for your proposed hashtag now, before using it, to make sure that it’s not in use by someone else.)

At any point in the future, a simple Twitter search http://search.twitter.com where you enter your hashtag will bring back all of your content. Share the search with your students, with their parents, with your school, with your principal, with anyone who might have a vested interest in your classroom.

Second Step – Use that Hashtag
But, where’s the content? This is typically the stumbling block for many well-intentioned plans. It takes time to come up with content. Suggestion – crowd source it with your students. They’ve been in class all day long – at the end of the day, do a little wrap up before they head home. It might be questions like:

  • What was the neatest thing we did today?
  • Who was our classroom guest today?
  • What are we excited about for tomorrow?
  • What books did we read today?
  • ….

Any of a myriad of questions that elicit any thoughts on the day will do! Just as long as they can be summarized in 140 characters or less. Then, post it to Twitter. It could be from you or the class scribe for the day or the tech helpers or …

But the key is to make it positive and upbeat. In YOUR classroom, of course, it will be the best of the positive and upbeat!

This daily positive message will make it home before your students.

Third Step – Blog it!
If you’re not a daily blogger, that’s OK. How about being a weekly blogger? Friday night, Saturday morning – create a blog post. Don’t worry about writer’s block. You’ve got at least five pieces of inspiration already. Just do the Twitter search for your classroom hashtag, copy the results, and paste them into a blog post. It’s a leisurely reflective 10-15 minutes to expand on your student crowd sourced raw material. Post it and the week is in the bag. Do you have any pictures or a video to support the Twitter messages? Stick them into the blog post and they won’t get lost or crumpled like they might in the file folder in the top draw of the filing cabinet.

Fourth Step – You’re a Genius
There are always times you need good news stories and you’ve got them all in one spot!

Parent conferencing? You can lead it; students can lead it; Twitter can lead it; your Blog can lead it.

End of the year celebrations? Piece of cake. You’ve been celebrating and reflecting on the great things that happened all year-long. There’s no need for deep memory searching or looking for that elusive piece of information. It’s all there in your blog! Pull the pieces together and you’re good to go.

A year’s worth of successes is a good thing. Crowd sourcing them from grass-roots 140 characters at a time leverages the technology and makes a big task easy.

And, next summer when you look back over everything – you’ll be fully justified in saying “That was quite a year”.

All the best to my teacher readers for a successful 2012-2013 school year.

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I Couldn’t Manage a Starship if I Wanted To

But, I’ll confess that I’ve always wanted to.

Jamie Weir retweeted some advice from Jean-Luc Picard

What great advice!

I was curious about the account “PicardTips” so I used the lookup feature on Hootsuite.

Wow, look at the Klout this man has!

What about moi?

Obviously, not even in the same galaxy, out scored 64-56.

Have you checked your Klout?  Do you have more Klout than the good captain?  (Do you care?)

Do you believe that your influence can be reduced to a number?  Do you believe that it matters?  (Again, do you care?)

In the meantime, I spent the rest of the day practicing.





It confirmed to the family that I’ve lost it.

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Beautiful Statistics and Storytelling

One of my favourite university courses was my first full course in statistics.  I still remember the first day when our professor indicated that there were two ways that she could teach the course.  One was through number crunching and the other was through story telling.  She indicated that her approach would be story telling and that there was another section of the same course offering the other approach if anyone wanted to change.

I didn’t change – I’d been through the whole registrar process a previous time and didn’t want to go through THAT again.  I decided to stick it out and I’m glad that I did.

Her message and it’s stuck in my mind all these years is that you’ll be more effective in communicating the statistical results of anything if you can present it in a story.  It made sense at the time and it makes even more sense as we get bombarded with statistics and numbers on a daily basis.

In education, I’ve sat through so many presentations about research results.  So many of the presenters probably took the “other course”.  Persuasive discussions are shown via Excel spreadsheet which you’re supposed to get onside with because Excel is “the industry standard”.  To help you understand the results, watch the presenter show how she/he highlights rows and columns and cells to make the point!  You might even be lucky enough to get your own printed copy with the highlighting already done!

On the other side, I once worked for a superintendent who turned out the most engaging presentations.  Every one was a story!  While I’m unable to remember a single presentation from the first method, I can still remember some from the second.  One, in particular, was on the district’s love with paper, printers, and photocopiers.  Grounded in statistics, you would sincerely have to dig to find them, (they were there…); the message was embedded in the story which was filled with imagery – trees, recycling bins, home fridges, …  It was so powerful and memorable.

One of the reasons why I’m a fan of the infographic is that they tend to take that approach.  Of course, at the heart, you’ll find statistics but the presentation of a good infographic tells a story and takes you along for the ride.

You may have noticed some Twitter messages recently from Vizify.  Hopefully, you’ve been notified or tagged in one because statistically you showed up significantly in someone’s timeline.  My most recent tagging was from Teresa Marrello.

After receiving a few of these, I decided to check it out myself.  If you want to jump to the end of the story, my video is stored here.

It was with a little hesitancy that I proceeded because Vizify wanted me to grant access to my Twitter account.  But, I realized that I could revoke the access afterwards so I went forward.  It was only a few seconds later and my movie of 40 seconds was created.  I watched it to see where my major interactions were from the past year.

A lot of it made sense.  I’m an early riser and am most active personally first thing in the morning over breakfast and the morning news reads.  The rest of the day is random, scripts, and could be at any time.  It would be interesting to see how much was actually done on weekends when my days aren’t exactly scripted!

After the movie, I wondered “Is that it”?  My whole year summarized in 40 seconds.

Fortunately, Vizify lets you do what a statistician would call “drill down”.

So, is there more than just my top three topics?

Definitely, but I am happy that I am seen to be promoting the wonderful efforts of Ontario Educators.  How about my “Golden Followers”?  Top three and that’s it?  Poor Brandon – he tries so hard.

The site does allow you to dig a little deeper.  I didn’t realize how much “coffee talk with Linda” had transpired!

There’s Brandon!  Just missed the cut.

In fact, Vizify does allow for a little editing of their results or you could even add another scene to your story.

Now, that’s what I call a great storytelling approach.  Now, certainly, I could access the entirety of my Twitter history if I wanted and then build my own story using my software tools.  Vizify does a nice job of taking on some of what most people would call their highlights.  If you’re interested in this statistical approach to analysing yourself, do it at their website.  If you have a classroom Twitter account, I’ll bet your students would get a kick out of the results.

When you’re done, you should probably consider revoking access to your Twitter account until the next time you want to run the routine.  It’s just security common sense.  While you’re there, you should probably take a look at all of the applications that you’ve allowed access to your account.  If there’s no clear reason why they should, here’s the chance to turn it off.