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Friday, December 6, 2013

Changing the World, One Twitter Chat at a Time

Okay, I admit it, I got caught up watching the Morning Show and the discussion that Matt Lauer had with the Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter.  While Matt recognized that being able to use pseudonyms allowed for political speech where it is oppressed and therefore had the potential to change the world, he was concerned about nasty tweets and negativity (apparently he has had some hurtful ones).  Doesn’t that sound like the fear that teachers sometimes express regarding the use of technology, and particularly social media in the classroom?  I loved Dick Costolo’s answer “it is incumbent on us, as operators of the platform to make sure that everyone can come to Twitter feeling it is a clean, well-lit place.” That is exactly what we have to do as educators, in our regular and our digital classrooms. It is incumbent on us to teach our children civil discourse and digital citizenship.  It is no different than expecting them to be polite to each other face to face (except that students cannot twist the truth when confronted with comments that are in black and white).

 While Lauer and Costolo’s conversation veered off to the entertainment industry (“Who does Costolo wish would sign up?” “Melissa McCarthy, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler”),  my mind went in a different direction, to the other side of Twitter.  I have to admit, I do not follow anyone famous (I do follow James Taylor on Facebook, I enjoy seeing him pop up in my newsfeed between my teacher friends and my sister with pictures of him baking pies on thanksgiving, etc….after all, years ago, he sang “you got a friend” to me….of course there were a couple thousand people in the room, but I am pretty sure he was singing to me…but I digress).  The people I do follow share news, resources, ideas, and laughs.

Costolo admitted that the language of twitter (#, @, RT, etc) can turn some people off, but the content is powerful – the media, photos, and content that people share is what is important.  Recent twitter chats on critical thinking via the #njed group (headed up by @wkrakower) and #TXeduchat (led by @jennifermiller9) are an example of this great content-content that I think can change the world.  They were fast paced, fun, invigorating, stimulating, and validating conversations.  I have never seen a nasty tweet amongst my colleagues (granted, I don’t have as many followers as Matt Lauer, but he only has them because Justin Bieber asked his followers to follow Lauer), and as Costolo stated “there is a certain creativity that comes with being limited to 140 characters.”

Some examples:

So combine #greatminds, creativity and thought provoking questions (after all, the conversation was about critical thinking) and you have true learning, sharing of resources, practices and insights.  How can you lose?Although I love Amy, Melissa, and Tina, I am pretty sure that adding them to twitter will not change the world.  Get the right educators on there, and I think we have a shot.

Join the #njed chat on Tuesday nights, 8:30 ET 

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