140 Speakers, 64 Sessions, 2 Days, 1 Stage. That's the way Jeff Pulver, creator of the 140 Conference summed up the event. What an incredible experience for myself and the other members of the panel.
To recap, myself (@web20classroom), Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby), Shelly Terrell (@shellterrell) and Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) were invited by Arpana Vashisht (@parentella) to speak about how Twitter is changing the business of education. Specifically, we discussed how we are using the #edchat forum as a way for educators to meet, converse about policy and exchange ideas. While we were only given 20 minutes we were able to tell our story to the movers and shakers in the world of Social Media.
To begin I did an interview on How I Use Twitter. Check it out
The conference was attended by people from all walks of life. The Police Chiefs that Tweet, Lawyers, Small Business, Actors, Comedians, Musicians, Moms, all took the stage at some point over the 2 days to tell the world their story. Some stories were very moving. Like @padschicago who found herself homeless after loosing her job to the current economic situation but uses Twitter to help find resources for herself and her family. She is using the power of her network to insure she has food and shelter for not only herself but her children as well. We heard the story of @wmmarc, a photographer who saw how his friend @drew(famous for starting the hashtag #blamedrewscancer, where each time a tweet includes the hashtag a dollar is donated to cancer research) was using the power of Twitter to promote social good. There were so many other stories, all driving home several points.
The most important point that I have taken away from the #140Conf was networking. We heard example after example of how people are harnessing the power of Twitter and Social Media to connect to clients or consumers. But more importantly and more meaningful was how groups were using Twitter to create networks of people for support and resource sharing. The Mommy Bloggers are a great example of this. So are the Police Chiefs That Tweet and all the groups that talked about how they used Twitter in some capacity to raise money for different charities.
There are so many applications here to education. As I said in my interview, teaching is not an island business. You cant go to your classroom everyday and shut your door and keep the world outside. In order to survive teachers must make connections with other educators. And really why would not want a group of teachers you can call upon for support and feedback when you need. it. Also, share! That is how I got into Twitter. I was finding these amazing resources for my teachers and I knew that there were others out there who could use them, so every chance I get I pass it along to my network. If you find something amazing share it with others. Remember, we want kids all over to have access to the best resources for learning.
Lastly, Twitter, and Social Media in general is not a 1-way conversation. It is about engagement. If you are on Twitter, Ning, Facebook, etc, you have to engage in conversation with those that follow you and you follow. On Twitter it does no good to just Tweet out what you are doing or resources you are sharing if you don't engage in those conversations with people. It's called Social Media for a reason.
But what about in terms of education. We explained that teachers can use use Social Media services like Twitter to engage in those conversations with other educations. I have said before I am all about promotion of the Professional Learning Network (PLN). But the PLN does no good with one-sided conversations. You have to be an active member, you have to take part in order for the value to come back to you.
I will leave you with this. Just as we were challenged, I would like to challenge you to do something good for someone everyday. No matter how small a little good can go a long way to making this world a better place to live...