Gagging teachers

Just a short post to ask a question – and hopefully get some answers!

What control do you think a school principal/management/BOT should have over whether a teacher is allowed to use twitter or blogger or other social networks to express their opinions on teaching, education etc.?

(This would be on well established personal accounts.)


Ulearn – A Tale of Two Halves (aka TCE-1 vs TCE5)

Over the next while I’ll be blogging about my thoughts and reflections from Ulearn11 but I thought I’d start with a good old ‘compare and contrast’ post.

Way back in 2006 I attended my first Ulearn. I was the only teacher there from my school and didn’t really know a lot of other people who were there – there were some from our cluster but that’s all. My boss had thought it would be a great idea for me to attend and get a hold of some new/innovative ideas to bring back to school. Now that wasn’t a bad idea – but it also wasn’t so great. While I loved the challenges of the various breakouts that I attended, I didn’t enjoy anything else. I was extremely isolated and because I didn’t really know other people, I had no one to talk with about the new things I was learning. I didn’t even go to the dinner because I couldn’t bear being alone in the crowd.

Teleport to the present and it’s a whole different story!

Twitter went public in 2006, I first heard about at Learning@Schools in 2007, and finally joined up March 13, 2008. L@S07 was different because I went with 7 others from school – we had lots to talk about and it was refreshing experience. L@S09 was a smaller group of people from school – but I also had my twitter PLN. Ulearn09 saw 2 of us attending from school; Ulearn10 I attended ‘alone’ and now I have  just finished attending Ulearn11 (‘alone’).

The contrast between Ulearn06 and Ulearn11 couldn’t be greater. I am a naturally gregarious person (all my friends will LOL at that comment) but the feeling of isolation was terrible at 06. There are an increasing number of us who attend Ulearn/L@TS on our own – and often self-funded. We go because it’s the best PD out there (thanks CORE). We go because we get to spend several days socializing in RL with our Twitter friends – Twitter has become our lifeline – especially for those of us who are isolated in our schools – or even in small/rural/one teacher schools.

For many of us that first face-to-face connection seals the bond of friendship – we move from virtual colleagues to RL colleagues. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

(I’ve taken the liberty of coining a new acronym – TCE = Twitter Common Era!)

(Acronym definitions: PLN=Personal/Professional Learning Network or community (PLC); RL=Real Life; PD=Professional Development; L@S=Learning At School)

Twitter to the rescue

It was a day like all other days …

… actually it was Friday – day #3 of the 2010 school year. According to my planner Friday is ePortfolio posting day – and yesterday was my students (8 & 9 year olds) first introduction to their Edublogs ePortfolios.

The first few went ok – they had cheat sheets to refer to if they forgot what to do and their login/password information was on a laminated card for them. I had 5 students working at a time on the computers. (Although I could have had 13 working at the same time I wanted a smaller number in case I had to problem solve.)

The problems started when the second person onto the computer went to log in – instead of arriving at their own dashboard they arrived at the previous person’s dashboard. I switched them to a different browser and that worked ok for the first person but the same problem occurred in the second browser.

Oh No!

Then one of my students published his post and got a pop-up message about it being spam.

More Oh NO!

I quickly wrote a message in the box on the page explaining that this was an 8 year old making his very first post, submitted it and went to my laptop.

Here’s where Twitter comes in. I knew that Sue Waters – Edublog guru and Aussie superhero was on Twitter – we’ve chatted on and off over the past few years. I sent two Tweets out to her explaining the problems.

Screen shot 2010-02-06 at 10.49.00 AM

Within 30 minutes she’d responded with a solution for the first and fixed the second problem and even sent a message to my students explaining antisplog in kidspeak to them.

Screen shot 2010-02-06 at 10.49.59 AM

Without the ready access to Twitter and people/experts this problem would have taken quite some time to fix. One of the good things with Twitter is that I can have DM (direct messages) sent to my cell phone so I had a sound alert that she’d responded to my call for help.

A huge thanks to Sue for her help.

As an aside – my tweeted messages and the responses weren’t private/hidden from my students – they saw me send the tweet and they saw the responses. It’s things like this that show them responsible use of Twitter.

Just another example of how handy Twitter is …

I’m a tweeter – I love checking out to see what my PLN is up to. Today I noticed a comment from one person (@jshe) to another (@teachernz) referring to yet another person (@digitallearnin) and when I checked out the last person’s twitter feed I noticed a comment to yet another person (@Kelliemcrobert) who had posted a tweet some six hours previously.

Screen shot 2009-10-03 at 4.18.20 PM

I followed the link in that tweet and ended up at and followed the Web2.0 link. From there I scrolled down the page and saw this:

Screen shot 2009-10-03 at 4.19.57 PM

I clicked on the Trading Cards link and arrived at a blog link at Big Huge Labs.

Screen shot 2009-10-03 at 4.20.33 PM

And straight-away had an idea for my topic next term when we are going to be looking at a “Celebration of Inventors”. There’s no way I’d have come up with THAT idea all by myself.

To quote an old deodorant advertisement … “I can’t live with out my Twitter PLN!”

Twitter woes

Twitter is a fantastic tool – it’s been part of my online PD/PLN since I first signed up. But I woke up on July 28th to discover that my twitter account had been suspended! I immediately filed a support request to have it reinstated but have had no luck yet.

In the meantime I created a new account and am using that.

This is the shot from my @dragonsinger57 account
This is my new @KiwiJoe90 account
This is my new @KiwiJoe90 account

As you can see I have a little way to go. This time I’m concentrating on adding educators – if you were one of my @dragonsinger57 friends please add @KiwiJoe90 too.


Twitter Survey Post 1

First a huge thank you to all who answered my survey. 85 people responded from all over the world.

The demographic information I got from it goes like this:

Length of time on twitter:

  • 15 — 2+ years
  • 32 — 1-2 years
  • 10 — 6-12 months
  • 15 — less than 6 months


  • 37 — Teachers – both Primary & Secondary
  • 35 — involved in some kind of ICT facilitation – some as part of teaching job
  • 4 — Librarian or Library Specialists
  • 6 — Senior positions – Principal/AP/DP
  • 7 — Other jobs – some in education, some not (some I wasn’t quite sure what the job was!

I then asked why they used twitter. I discovered that there were some broad areas here:

  • Connection
  • Collaboration/Collegiality
  • Information
  • Fun

There were many examples under each of those areas – too many to post them all so I’ll pick out a few examples for each.


  • Link with people in NZ & around world with similar interests/global connection
  • Other teachers/educators have same vision for enhancing teaching/learning in their classrooms
  • Keep my thinking fresh by extending my prof. network & interacting with people I would not normally have the chance to connect with


  • Discussions, controversies, new thinking
  • Support when looking for new ideas
  • Coffee conversations with e-colleagues
  • 24/7 access to collaborators


  • Asking and answering questions
  • Sharing tips and resources
  • Staying up-to-date
  • Keep in touch with what is happening in the outside world – especially important for people free-lancing
  • Creating wider audience for class blogs


  • Planning fun stuff like Flash Mob @ conference
  • Personal – friends & family
  • Sharing memorable and humorous events
  • Interest, curiosity, new things

Next I asked how Twitter helped professionally

  • Difficult to find funds to attend prof. dev. workshops – depend on Twitter & peers to learn and grow
  • Able to tear down the walls of my classroom & give my students a chance to connect with people around the world
  • Keeps me in touch with the outstanding role models in our (global) education system
  • Allowed us to restructure our classes to take advantage of Web 2.0
  • I’ve ‘stolen’ and used many ideas in the curriculum or own personal life; made friends; shared my own ideas; collaborated with others; reflected on my own practice and more
  • Has grown my PLN, challenged my thinking & ideas about education & specifically the impact of e-learning on pedagogy & student learning
  • First place I go to when I have a problem or need inspiration

I also asked them to make recommendations for people to follow — the top 5 people are listed below

  • @allanahk (13)
  • @teachernz (11)
  • @tombarrett (10)
  • @suewaters (8)
  • @wfryer (8)

Then I asked for “sage” advice for newbies.

  • Find strong people to follow
  • Make connections with people with similar interests
  • Enjoy the spirit of the community
  • Give yourself time to develop connections
  • Be eclectic in your mix of people you follow
  • Jump in & connect

And finally I asked for any last thoughts

  • Don’t worry if it takes a long time to ‘get’ – just about everyone says that
  • Visit the Blogger’s Cafes at conferences to meet up with people
  • 140 characters leads to tight, focussed writing/thinking
  • @dogtrax shared a poem he had written called “I dream in Twitter” – it’s worth listening to!

As you can see from this snippet there was a lot of information in the survey. It took me the better part of a weekend to pull this information out and put it into logical order (and work on my workshop presentation!)

I will write up my thoughts of what this all means in another post. I will also post a link to my finished slideshow (once I convert it to PPT from Keynote).

In the meantime the raw data is available here for people to look at. (Personal information removed) Please contact me if you want a downloadable version.

Thanks again to all who participated in this survey. You and your answers validated Twitter as an educational tool!

Is this the face of homework to come?


Mosaic of my Twitter PLN

Get your twitter mosaic here.

twitter wordle

subject says it all really – this is my twitter wordle!