Sunday, December 23, 2012

Unconvinced about Twitter

I love technology… but I fear technology as well.

 Let me explain. Since I started inserting technology into my class, it always made it there in one of two ways: Either something I was teaching called for some technological way to make it more appealing, or I contemplated a technology and thought how I could use it in my class. Whereas the latter is an imperfect system, the results have been quite nice.

But what I hope to never do is take a technology tool and place it into my classroom solely because it exists. If I don’t feel something carries with it real educational benefits, I will not use it.

Which leads me to Twitter. I understand the benefits of Twitter for creating a professional network (although I don’t understand how anyone has the time to be an active participant, nor how to weed things down to a useful but non-overwhelming level of information), but I’ve thought long and hard and I have not thought of a sound reason why Twitter should enter my classroom.

Trust me: I’m not against social networking. Long ago I argued that teachers and administrators should embrace it rather than fight against it. Those who disagreed were fighting an insurmountable battle and were impeding progress. No, I’m not a fan of Twitter for other reasons.

To name a few: Everyone says Twitter teaches students how to be concise. I teach middle schoolers. I yearn to elicit more from them, not less. And generally speaking, one of their versions of “concise” is to use the most bastardized version of the English language imaginable. Furthermore, sites like Twitter can feed an ego just a little too much. It’s not uncommon for someone to post on this and similar sites countless pieces of information about their activities and feelings. It creates an unhealthy level of self-importance; again, this is not something I wish to encourage. Finally, I have yet to find an advantage of microblogging over regular old blogging. Blogs are something for which I see serious educational potential. Until someone could decisively show me the advantage of microblogging in my classroom, I’m staying away.

Nevertheless, I want you to convince me otherwise. Maybe I’m way off. Obviously many people think so. Please, tell me why would I choose to place microblogging in my classroom experience!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Excited (But Reluctant) Blogger

I am extremely excited about the endless possibilities of using blogs in my classroom. However, I do have one fear, which I’ll mention at the end of this post.

Despite the fact that the initial excitement about blogs has somewhat dissipated, I think they retain a massive amount of benefits, two of which I would like to share.

The first is as an almost cathartic form of teacher reflection. Many an expert on education has spoken of reflection as the single most important thing a teacher can do to advance them forward in their profession. Whether it’s reflecting in a journal, reflecting on the bus, or reflecting with others in the teachers’ lounge, all will facilitate an educator moving forward in his career. A blog is an ideal place to do this reflection. The notion that others might look at your writing keeps you disciplined to keep posting and to be professional, intelligent, and careful about the posts. Not to mention the fact that others should be able to benefit from your insights as well!

The second benefit is the ability to bring the classroom to the outside world. I recently started a blog ( to further classroom discussion for homework. That means that my students will potentially reflect upon our subjects wherever they go. It’s taking our classroom and putting it in the place they spend most of their time anyway: The computer. Students will especially be cautious in writing well when they know that not just their teacher, but their peers and anyone else who stumbles upon the blog can read what they say. They’re truly out there in the world.

It will take me a long time to get over my only blog fear. Several years back I maintained a blog regularly. I took it very seriously. Then one day the site announced they were switching everything over to another server. My password no longer worked and every email I sent was received only by silence. Eventually my hundreds of posts disappeared forever. I’d love to figure out how to appease that concern.

But for the reasons stated above, I will certainly try!