Archive for February, 2011

The Power of #hashtags

I’ve blogged a little before about the amazing power of twitter and it has been brought home to me again of late as the result of two incidents, one huge, one tiny. The events in Tunisia and Egypt are, of course the huge one, and reflect how information is freeing itself from the control of governments. The tiny one is the fact that I have a friend staying at the moment who is coming to my school tomorrow to observe. She’s doing a PGCE in English and I wanted to show her the power of twitter so posted a quick query to my PLN (Personal Learning Network ie. people I who follow me on twitter) about which would be the best hashtags for English teachers. The result was exceptionally swift and accurate and came from @lmsahistory, a history teacher in Chicago. Amazing and par for the course for the twitterati.

The experience got me thinking about the usefulness of hashtags in finding information and people to follow on twitter, I certainly found the service useless until I started following the right threads and hence found the right people, so I thought I’d blog some of the useful hashtags I’ve found in case anyone else is searching:
Education Technology
#edtech #ukedchat

History
#historyteacher #sschat

Politics
#politicsteacher (although I think there are only a few of us using this!

MFL teaching
#mfltips

English Language & Literature
#englishteacher #engchat

Those are the ones that spring to mind, I’ll add more to this post as I come across them.

My reflections on the ISC ICT strategy conference

As one of the few non SMT delegates at the ISC ICT Conference it was extremely encouraging to see the enthusiasm for and commitment to the adoption of e-learning that came out of last Tuesday’s meeting. For me concerns over capacity and safety were secondary to the emphasis on the transformative power that online tools can bring to learning. The ever entertaining Ian Yorston pointed to this with a rallying cry for less spoon-feeding and for schools to embrace the opportunities that online access to information has for making our students into independent learners and upgrading our schools from ‘Very Good’ to ‘Outstanding’. This call struck a nervous chord with the delegates and reflects the reality that in an information rich age the teacher must change, for decades teachers have played the role as guardian of the kingdom of fact, dispensing these to students as required for examinations and, in regretfully fewer cases, as a route to a more comprehensive understanding of the iniquities and wonders of the world. The internet has changed this, any and all facts are now at the fingertips of internet enabled students for verification or initial research. The teaching role must therefore change to facilitator, enabling discussions where factual knowledge can be organised, synthesised and analysed to address the real goal of education, finding the answers to the questions which human curiosity begs. The conference was liberally sprinkled with great tools to achieve this. Kerry Turner and Jose Picardo highlighted many of these, AQA chipped in with the prospect of internet enabled exams which promises a system where factual recall becomes secondary to the usage and deployment of understanding, enabling students to be stretched so much more whilst also preparing them for the real world they will have to deal with, a world where, with the exception of those planning a career in deep sea diving, the internet will make information readily available at all times through a community of sharing. This fledgling community was already in evidence through the twitter feed and the discussions it sparked at lunch between delegates who had met physically for the first time. For me the ISC needs to take a lead here, while the state sector has grids for learning that encourage teachers to share resources the independent sector has been slow in leveraging the wealth of material produced in our schools, an online forum where schools can list their curricula and exam boards to enable collaboration between teachers and students would be a start, the proposed ISC iTunes channel also looks like a potentially tremendous resource and advert for what we can offer. At a time where government seems to be encouraging the teaching profession to look backwards the independent sector has the reputation, the influence and through our freedom from government sanctioned examinations, the duty to make a case for embracing the future of learning.


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