Monday, September 21, 2009

The 140 Conference

Twitter is a powerful platform that has experienced exponential growth in the past 18 months. Most users see that little box that says "What Are You Doing?" yet don't follow directions. Many different groups have harnessed the power of Social Networking and used it to promote their business, generate interest in a cause, connect with members of the community, or to get information out to a specific group of people. I rarely tell what I am doing. Rather, I use the Twitter platform to connect to educators and those with a vested interest in education. I also share resources, interesting articles/blog posts and participate in the weekly #edchat where 100's of educators have dropped by to talk about educational issues and policy.

In the spirit of the emerging platform of Twitter, Jeff Pulver (jeffpluver) created the #140 Conference. From the #140Conf Website:

"At the #140conf events, we look at twitter as a platform and as a language we speak. Over time it will neither be the only platform nor the only language. #140conf is not an event about microblogging or the place where people share twitter “tips and techniques” but rather where we explore the effects of the real-time Internet. The original scope of #140conf was to explore “the effects of twitter on: Celebrity, “The Media”, Advertising and (maybe) Politics.” Over time the scope expanded to look at the effects of twitter on topics ranging from public safety to public diplomacy."

At the conference the audience is treated to over 20 panels and guest per-day, rapid fire style, meaning each presentation only lasts 15-25 minutes. But they are powerful. In the past topics have included the effects of Twitter on Newspapers, Twitters ability to influence music and sports, using Twitter to support the Social Good, and the effects of Twitter on brands. However, there has been one topic that is lacking; The Twitter Effect on Education.

There is an upcoming conference in Los Angeles, Oct 27-28. Aparna Vashisht (Parentella) has proposed a panel, entitled, Twitter in Education: How Twitter Is Changing Education, that she will moderate, that will include myself, Tom Whitby (tomwhitby), Shelly Terrell (ShellTerrell), and others to talk about how we are using Twitter, specifically, #edchat, to engage in discussion about educational issues and policy. (Read more about what #edchat is here and here.) What is so great about #edchat is that we have a wide range of participants. Teachers, School Administrators, School Leaders, College Professors, Superintendents, Members of School Board's of Education, parents, politicians and others have all joined our conversation. In past #edchat's we have talked about a range of topics including, the role of standardized testing in education, internet filtering in schools and what Schools of Education need to do to better prepare Pre-Service teachers. However, our most popular #edchat to date was on the role of Homework in Education where we were joined by special guest, Alfie Kohn, an outspoken advocate of less homework in schools.

The problem is Jeff is still deciding on whether or not this panel needs to be included in the #140 Conference. We need your help! Over the next few days you will see here and in my Twitter stream, blog posts and places for you to comment on why you think Twitter in Education needs to be talked about. Leave your comments everywhere! Show the organizers of the #140 Conference that Education is an important topic that needs to be discussed.

You can start by leaving just a few words below on how you use Twitter in Education. How has it changed your learning or the learning of your students? What do you get out of Twitter? What other thoughts do you have about the impact of Twitter on Education, either in the classroom or as a part of the profession?

Image from the #140 Conference Website.


  1. Twitter is becoming one of my major sources for links to important resources, a place to get questions answered, and connect with others interested in education. It has become a part of my PLN.

  2. A colleague and I have used it in our online courses and wrote about it:

    Dunlap, J. C. & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2). Preprint available at:

    To be truly effective, online learning must facilitate the social process of learning. This involves providing space and opportunities for students and faculty to engage in social activities. Although learning management systems offer several tools that support social learning and student engagement, the scope, structure, and functionality of those tools can inhibit and restrain just-in-time social connections and interactions. In this teaching tip, we describe our use of Twitter to encourage freeflowing just-in-time interactions and how these interactions can enhance social presence in online courses. We then describe instructional benefits of Twitter, and conclude with guidelines for incorporating Twitter in online courses.

  3. Twitter is a great way to share questions, concerns, best practices, and resources with other educators from around the world. As the former teacher librarian in a high school, I could learn from and share with other teacher librarians.

  4. Twitter, if used in the form of a educational PLN, can best be described as a buffet of resources, discussion, and relevant information related to the field. On Twitter, educators are constantly collaborating from all areas of the world in order to work towards 1 goal (increasing student achievment and engaging students in the instructional process). If you have a question or are looking for feedback, you receive responses in minutes from global experts. I also see it as the most useful form of relevant professional development out there because it can cater to anyone's interests. I have personally learned more from Twitter than any workshop or in-service training and it's FREE!

  5. I am continually amazed at the amount of resources I gain on Twitter. The spirit of collaboration is alive and well in my edtech PLN. I believe that social networking services such as Twitter is the direction that professional development is headed for K12 teachers in the 21st century. Where else can you find instantaneous feedback, suggestions, and advice for best practices in technology integration? I feel like this is a free, 24/7 edtech conference that has experts "presenting" from all over the world!

  6. My students are utilizing Twitter in their Web 2.0 course. They have spent numerous classes developing their "professional" network to include educators, experts in subjects they are interested in, some influential community members, and others. I have been impressed with their ability to completely wrap their minds around the concept.

    All students are currently tapping Twitter's resources to find opinions and research-based answers to Technological issues (such as Piracy, Interoperability, etc.). These are high school students, so yes they need to be reminded that Twitter is not a "chat" environment. So far, they have exceeded my expectations.

    Why one would not include "Twitter in Education" at a Twitter Conference is beyond me. Feel free to contact me @mrdooley if you want to know what we are currently doing.

  7. Twitter has enabled me to learn about teaching from around the world and across age groups and subjects in an efficient and engaging manner. I see what teachers are doing and can then explore and choose what to pass on to my faculty. I can honestly say I have learned more through Twitter in short amount of time because it uses some key elements of good teaching: brief, engaging, user friendly, innovative, and collaborative.

  8. Twitter has become one of my first go-to's in seeking out new resources as well as a platform to share ideas with other teachers and get feedback. I began by following a select group of teachers I knew but have now connected with educators around the world.

  9. Twitter has been a career changing discovery for me. Prior to Twitter I've been a big fan of listservs. Last spring I decided to make a Twitter account to see what the hoopla was about. I followed a few friends and overall was disappointed. I didn't see the point. Then at NECC09 I noticed a lot of presenters and attendees were using Twitter. So I logged onto my account and did a search for NECC09. And the light went on! Oh THIS is what Twitter is all about! Since then my mind has just been filled with ideas, resources, people, inspiration, new knowledge etc -- all from one little status line. Matter of fact, it's so overwhelming that I have to take breaks. In these economic times districts struggle finding money to send people to conferences -- this is a free conference ever day right on my laptop. I LOVE TWITTER.

  10. Our opening teacher workshop for this school year included a section on moving "Beyond the Teacher's Room" for staff PLN opportunities. Twitter was a large part of this presentation and each staff member got hands-on experience in signing up for Twitter accounts. We hope to keep this momentum going throughout the school year.

    A skeptic at first, I am now converted. Twitter has become my number one source for educational technology resources, ideas, collaboration, professional development, and news. With a strong Twitter PLN, I can move mountains!

  11. Danielle (kukukukuku on twitter)September 21, 2009 at 8:07 PM

    Twitter has put me in contact with great educators that I would never have met otherwise (including some in my own city!) I am learning so much about teaching MFL from others sharing ideas for ESL (as well as MFL), and have been able to make my students' learning much more engaging as a consequence of both the shared experiences and web2 ideas. (after all, with my PLN I have over 200 years of current, contemporary experience to draw on!) Twitter allows me to share my "Aha!" moments, my concerns, and my day - leaving much less isolated.