A Guide to Getting the Most Out of Twitter for Teacher Candidates & New Teachers

1. Don't be an Egghead: No one wants to follow an egghead.
Be sure to complete the Twitter profile with a picture and a brief description about who you are and what you do. Include a link to your blog or website so potential followers can find out more about you.  Here is a great example:

2. Share Information and Retweet: Don't just lurk or promote yourself, share ideas and links to resources. Retweet the information that you find valuable. Make sure you have a good ratio of tweets and retweets. Nobody wants to follow your never ending monologue. Just like in kindergarten, you need to listen and share if you want to make friends. 

3. Know your Audience: If you want to use Twitter as a professional learning network, only post information that is relevant to your professional life. The occasional goofy picture is fine, but create a personal account if you have the urge to share your beer can collection or LOL cat fascination. Sharing relevant professional information that highlights your professional interest or expertise will facilitate the development of an active learning community that will support your professional growth.

4.  Use #Hashtags to Avoid Being Overwhelmed: Your Twitter page can look like a fast moving springtime creek once you start following more than a hundred people. Searching by #hashtags can make it easier to find the information you want. A Twitter list is a curated list of Twitter users that you can create or subscribe to. Once the list has been created you can view the Tweets just from the people on the list. This is a great way to follow the Tweets of people from your school, district, or educational speciality.

#BrockTechies = Brock Teacher Candidates
#Newteacher = New Teachers
#NTchat - New Teacher chat
#OntEd = Ontario Education
#CanEd = Canadian Education
#EdChat =  Education Twitter Chat
#EdTech = Educational technology

#Hashtags enable you to search the Twitterverse to find Tweets related to a specific topic. Searching by #hashtags is the most efficient way to find educational resources. Use the guides listed below to find the #hashtag for what you are looking for.
5. Follow the Teachers, School Leaders or School Districts You Would Like to Work With: The quality of your Twitter experience will depend on who you follow. Be sure to follow the school district you would like to work for or where you will complete your practicum. This will ensure that you are informed about current district initiatives.
Reviewing the people the district account follows is a quick way to find the Twitter accounts for teachers, principals, schools and school leaders that work within the district. They may even have a Twitter list that makes it even easier to find district schools or employees.

In addition to following your colleagues and the organization you work for be sure to follow some of the most active Canadian educators on Twitter. The large number of followers these educators have amassed is a result of their exemplary use of Twitter. Following these leading Tweeters will give you a diverse offering of perspectives and resources. Following just people you already know will result in a echo chamber that fails to provide you with new ideas or opinions.

  • List of Twitter accounts of public school boards in Ontario (Courtsey @SylivaLink)
  • Great list of educator related Twitter lists created by @Michelle_Horst
  • List of Ontario Educators on Twitter created by @DougPete
  • List of Ontario Educators on Twitter2 created by @DougPete
  • Twitter List of Canadian Teachers
  • Twitter List of Canadian Educational Leaders
  • Twitter List of Canadian Professors

  • Top 100 Canadian Educators on Twitter
  • Top 100 Canadian Educational Leaders on Twitter
  • Top 100 Canadian Professors on Twitter
  • (These lists were created in early 2013. The number of followers and rankings may have changed)

    Brief Flipped / Blended Learning Workshop: Resources

    Flipped/Blended Learning Agenda

    Setting the Stage

    1. Watch the video: Flipping the Classroom - Simply Speaking
    2. Review The Flipped Classroom Infographic by Knewton.com
    3. Review the Blended Learning Infographic
    4. Watch the video: Blended Learning and Technology Integration
    5. Reflect: What is the greatest benefit of the flipped/blended approach?

    Core Learning

    1. Read two  flipped / blended articles. Take notes related to the benefits and challenges associated with the flipped/blended approach.

    Apply New Learning 

    1. Small group discussion: What is the difference between the flipped and blended learning?
    2. Small group discussion: Debate whether the benefits of the flipped learning approach outweigh the challenges.
    3. Group discussion: Identify the potential benefits and challenges of implementing the flipped approach at your school.
    4. Review the new stories related to the flipped / blended approach in Ontario: Identify the tools and resources used in these examples.
    5. Identify the resources needed to implement the flipped approach at your school.

    Reflect and Connect 

    1.  How will what you have learned affect your teaching?
    2. Are there elements of the flipped / blended approach that could use in your classroom this term/semester?

    The Academic Benefits of Educators & Students Working with Startups

    While it is obvious that EdTech startups have a lot to gain from working closely with educators, the benefits to the education community can be of great importance as well. Startups benefit from the educational insight educators provide and thus enhance the educational viability of their products. Students can benefit from the opportunity to fulfill written and oral communication expectations while engaging in authentic learning as they experiment with new products. Teachers may benefit from the chance to enhance their understanding of the available technological resources, while ensuring that future EdTech products successfully address their needs. Lastly, school leaders can also benefit from the opportunity to infuse a spirit of innovation into their school community.

    Interested in learning more about how educators, students and startups can work together to support academic success and educational innovation? Vote for the SXSW EDU session proposal:

    Using Twitter to Support (Grad Student) Scholarly Impact

    Here is an example of how graduates students can use Twitter to support scholarly impact. Below is a weekly update from Twitter that highlights my most popular Tweets from the previous week. The Tweet that received 145 views in one week is a link to a paper (9 Ways Fear is Slowing the Integration of EdTech in Schools) MEd. student / EdTech Intern, Jason Ribeiro created for a class, and then revised for an online publication, www.FractusLearning.com

    Encouraging students to share their work online provides them with opportunities to significantly increase the scholarly impact of their work, while connecting with the broader academic and educator community. Without the use of social media, it is unlikely that anyone, other than the instructor, would have even known that this paper existed. 

    Tweet On!

    Higher Education & K-12 Educators Connect to Support Educational Innovation

    Regardless of technological ingenuity, the effectiveness of any educational technology product is dependent on its ability to address the needs of the education community. Unfortunately, a lack of access to education stakeholders has been noted as one of the greatest challenges to educational entrepreneurs. This lack of classroom and educator access can greatly hamper the innovation and product development process.

    With a goal to nurture the ongoing relationships between education stakeholders, researcher, entrepreneurs and technology companies the Faculty of Education at Brock University and the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) have combined forces to create the Educational Research and Innovation Hub.

    Located within a grade 6 - 9 middle school, (it will grow to include grades 10 -12) the iHub will provide researcher and entrepreneurs with the distinct advantage of being in close proximity to education stakeholders so that they may easily observe classroom and school-wide practice, gather educational insight, solicit educator and student feedback or pilot the use of innovative products in an authentic context.

    Suraj Srinivas, co-founder of Vetica, is one of many who see the incredible value in having the Hub located in a K-12 institution. “Having a hub like this in a school with access to teachers and students in a supervised environment is huge for us. We can create something, push it out there to our potential users, and get their feedback quickly which is so important to a small company like ours.

    During the iHub opening on February 26, 2014, the DSBN Director of Education, Warren Hoshizaki, noted “We know there is a wealth of entrepreneurs out there searching for opportunities to use their talents and skills to support Canadian education. The expertise and resources they access at the Hub will assist them in changing their ideas into tools that improve teacher practice and benefit student learning for years to come.”

    Dr. Fiona Blaikie, Dean of the Faculty of Education at Brock University, believes that the Hub is an example of how 21st century research should take place.

    Once in operation, the iHub will:
    • Facilitate research opportunities that pair university researchers with entrepreneurs and educational technology companies to investigate the impact of newly created educational technologies and support the development of new innovations. 
    • House a co-working space where educators, researchers, entrepreneurs and educational technology companies can develop ongoing relationships.
    • Deliver an ongoing series of presentations, colloquium, focus groups, and networking opportunities that bring educators, researchers, software developers, entrepreneurs and educational technology companies together to connect, collaborate and disseminate innovative ideas. 
    The Brock / DSBN Educational Research and Innovation Hub is not the first time that these two organizations have combined forces to support educational innovation. The school district and university were the original organizers of CONNECT 2014: Canada’s Learning and Technology Conference. This unique two-day event connects K-12, college and university educators, school leaders and technologists with the technology resources that support 21st century teaching and learning.

    These endeavours highlight the ongoing relationships needed to needed to mobilize the knowledge of these combined communities and support the development of innovative educational approaches, tools and resources.

    DSBN, Brock Partner to Launch Educational Research and Innovation Hub

    From the Brock News

    The District School Board of Niagara and Brock University’s Faculty of Education are collaborating on a unique initiative to support innovation in Canadian education and technology.

    Housed inside 2,100 square feet at the DSBN Academy in St. Catharines, the newly minted Educational Research and Innovation Hub will bring together a wide range of stakeholders to cultivate powerful new learning technologies.

    “We see incredible potential in this new project,” says Warren Hoshizaki, DSBN Director of Education. “We know there is a wealth of entrepreneurs out there searching for opportunities to use their talents and skills to support Canadian education. The expertise and resources they access at the Hub will assist them in changing their ideas into tools that improve teacher practice and benefit student learning for years to come.”

    When the Hub officially opens its doors in late February, it will be a home to several original start-up companies. The collaborative atmosphere of the Hub will promote discussion, idea sharing and creativity amongst educators, researchers, graduate students, entrepreneurs and education technology companies.

    Dr. Fiona Blaikie, Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education at Brock University, believes that the Hub is an example of how 21st century research should take place.

    “Everything unfolds in context and in partnership,” says Blaikie. “As leaders in technology education, Faculty of Education researchers and students are superbly positioned to engage with entrepreneurs and colleagues at DSBN to better serve to society, teaching, learning and scholarship.”

    Dr. Camille Rutherford, Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education, acknowledges that there needs to be a direct line from invention to practice.

    “Regardless of technologic ingenuity, the effectiveness of any education innovation is dependent on its ability to address the needs of education,” says Rutherford. “Unfortunately, a lack of access to education stakeholders has been noted as one of the greatest challenges to educational entrepreneurs that often come from non-education backgrounds.”

    The Hub aims to eliminate the disconnect between educational insight and the innovation process. It will bridge this gap by providing entrepreneurs with the opportunity to observe actual classes and the strategies teachers use to support student learning. Start-ups will also be able to refine their products by observing their use in an actual classroom setting. This will allow companies to make necessary enhancements to ensure they are best meeting the needs of students, teachers and schools.

    In addition to the benefits the Hub will bring to the product development process, students will also benefit from their interactions with these start-up companies.

    “Students will have safe access to programmers, engineers and entrepreneurs, giving them the ability to ask questions, share ideas and learn more about potential career paths,” says Dino Miele, DSBN Chief Information Officer.

    Located within the DSBN Academy at 130 Louth Street in St. Catharines, the Hub is unique in its location.

    “There are a number of EdTech incubators and accelerators throughout North America, but there has yet to be a location that is housed within a K-12 educational institution,” says Rutherford.

    FETC: The Place to Be

    Despite Orlando's unusually cool and wet weather, the Florida Educational Technology Conference should be considered one of the best values when it comes to EdTech events. Here are the top five reasons why it is the place to be.

    1. It's in Orlando in January - For Canadians or anyone from a cold climate that may be the only argument needed. Despite the chill in the air this year, it was a nice escape from the polar vortex gripping the northern half of the continent. At the Mindshare Learning Canadian Tweetup (There were over 300 Canadians at FETC this year) the prize for the coldest hometown went an educator from Saskatchewan who was happy to be avoiding the -44 weather back home.
    2. Price - The FETC walk-up registration price (No membership needed) was $290. There were a number of online discounts that brought the cost down to $230 if you didn't register in time to take advantage of the early bird pricing. In contrast the ISTE walk-up registration fee for non-members is $448. 
    3. Sometimes smaller is better - With 8, 500 attendees, FETC is less than half the size of ISTE with is over 18,000 attendees. This can make FETC less overwhelming and exhausting. Despite the smaller size, most of the rock star presenters and technology companies listed on the ISTE website are also at FETC. A review of the conference agendas with reveal a number of commonalities when it comes to presentation speakers and topics. Regardless of the smaller size, FETC provides excellent professional development opportunities.
    4. Travel - Flying into ISTE's various conference locations presents attendees with a roller coaster of airfare research each year. With Orlando as FETC's permanent location, developing a budget for getting to FETC is considerably easier. As a vacation destination, there are plenty of flights and routes to choose from and late January also provides many off-season travel deals, making it easy and affordable to get to FETC each year.
    5. Accommodations - As a vacation resort mecca, Orlando is a very budget friendly location. I've had the pleasure of staying at the Vista Cay Resort for the past two years. This resort includes condo and townhouse accommodations that permit small and large groups to stay within walking distance of the convention centre for less than the cost of a hotel room at ISTE. Staying in a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom townhouse provides plenty of sleeping and meeting space for a group of 4. Each year we notice a growing number of educator walking between Vista Cay and the convention centre. On the walk this year we encountered a couple of teachers from Saskatchewan that noted that there were part of a group of 30 people from their school district staying at Vista Cay while attending the conference. A review of my past credit card statements reveals that the cost of registration, travel and accommodations for FETC is often less than my hotel bill at ISTE. 

    That should be proof enough that FETC is the place to be, but if you need a little more convincing check out the following blog posts:

    Laura Gleeson - My FETC Experience
    Jason Ribeiro - Revisiting FETC
    Kyle Tuck - FETC 2014

    Brock EdTech Internship

    Regardless of technological ingenuity, the effectiveness of any educational technology is dependent on its ability to address the needs of practitioners. Unfortunately, most EdTech entrepreneurs have advanced technical training, but lack a comprehensive understanding of pedagogy, educational research and the realities of being a classroom teacher. This lack of educational insight can greatly hamper the product development and eventual success. Pairing EdTech entrepreneurs with interns that are pursing a Masters degree in education will provide these organizations with the educational insight needed to ensure that their products address the needs of educational practitioners, while also ensuring these products are informed by best practices and current educational research.

    The internship will also provide graduate students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge and understanding they have acquired in the graduate program to a growing industry that may provide them with future employment opportunities.  The rapid advancement of technology-enabled learning has foster exponential growth in the educational technology sector. It is estimated that the EdTech market will double its level of investment from $31 billion in 2013 to $59 billion by 2018 (EdTech Digest). This influx of funding should create significant growth in opportunities for educators that are knowledgeable about the EdTech sector and are able to capitalize on their educational background and training to support educational innovation.

    Internship Description
    In addition to working with their assigned Edtech startup, the interns will be required to participate in weekly meetings with their faculty advisor. These academically focused meetings and required reading assignments will  enhance the intern’s knowledge and understanding of the EdTech industry and related research. During these weekly sessions, interns will discuss the required research and industry readings as well as discuss and share insights gained from their individual readings, field placement, or knowledge dissemination activities.

    To further support their understanding of the EdTech industry, the interns will have the opportunity to attend in-person or online a variety of EdTech conferences (FETCSXSW EDUCONNECT: Canada's Learning & Technology Conference) or other networking opportunities. During these events, the interns will be expected to network and interact with attendees to enhance their understanding of current industry challenges and opportunities, while also building a professional network. 

    To support knowledge dissemination, the interns will be required to create a Twitter account and professional blog. Their blog and Twitter posts will highlight their experience while also sharing links to the key articles, blog posts, podcasts, and conference presentations that enhanced their knowledge and understanding of the educational technology industry.

    2014 EdTech Interns

    Accepting the Blogging Challenge – and Extending it…

    This blog post is my acceptance of Lori DiMarco's challenge

    1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.

    2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.

    3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

    4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition.

    5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

    This blog is my acceptance of the 5 challenges from Lori and I too am extending the 5 challenges to 11 people.

    Challenge #1 – acknowledge the nominating blogger
    Lori DiMarco, (@TCDSB_21C_AICT) is the Superintendent of 21st Century Learning and Academic Information & Communications Technology with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. She is responsible for making 21st century teaching and learning a reality through her exemplary leadership of the TCDSB Project Next initiative.

    Challenge #2 – Provide 11 random facts about yourself
    1. My undergraduate degree is in history 
    2. I work out to podcasts instead of music 
    3. I read 4 newspapers each day (Not the entire paper. Just enough to know what's going on). 
    4. I hate snakes 
    5. I wasn't born in Canada 
    6. I taught in the Jane/Finch community 
    7. I love to travel, but hate to unpack 
    8. I was a NCAA compliance coordinator 
    9. I spent over a decade working at summer camps 
    10. I've been to all of murder capitals in the U.S. 
    11. I have very small ears

    Challenge #3 – Answer the nominating blogger’s 11 questions 
    1. Name one thing you have learned about 21st Century Learning and how it has impacted you. You don't have to use technology to be a 21st century edycator
    2. Name a favourite author of fiction. Which book or series? Why? - John Steinbeck 
    3. Name your favourite movie of all time (it does not have to be educational) and justify it with an educational reason or some learning that stuck with you - Moneyball (Not an all time favourite, but it always get me thinking how to apply similar principles to education. 
    4. What is your favourite piece of technology and why? - iPad; limitless reading 
    5. What book/reading/learning are you currently applying to your work? Disrupting Class 
    6. You are going out for dinner tonight to your favourite restaurant. What culture does this restaurant represent? Trinidadian Chinese 
    7. What blogs do you follow and recommend for me to follow? http://techenablededucator.com/ 
    8. Name one mentor who has impacted your career, how you know them and what impact they have had on you. Richard Thompson (SVSU Dean of Students); Leadership role model. 
    9. What were you doing when you found out that Nelson Mandela had passed away? Reading the news on my iPad. 
    10. Name one tradition your family adheres to. Getting together for Caribana weekend for a family BBQ 
    11. Share a link to a favourite recipe. Cajun Spatchcock Turkey
    Challenge #4 – List 11 bloggers that deserve a bit of recognition and to whom you offer this challenge…

    Challenge #5 – Ask 11 questions for your 11 nominees to respond to
    1. What is your favourite quote or saying? 
    2. Name your ideal retirement location. 
    3. If you could have only one educational technology resource, what would it be? 
    4. What is your favourite travel destination? 
    5. Recommend an educational game? 
    6. What is your favourite app? 
    7. What is your favourite tv show? 
    8. Have you ever paid it forward at a coffee shop? 
    9. If you had to pick a song to be your theme song what would it be? 
    10. What is the last movie you saw in the theatre? 
    11. What is the first thing you would do after winning a million dollars?

    New project to highlight educational innovation: The Tech-Enabled Educator Network

    Sisters Teachers are doing it for the themselves.
    Standing on their own two feet and ringing their own bells.” ~ Aretha Franklin
     The Tech-Enabled Educator Network grew out of a desire to showcase the work of innovative educators to preservice students and new teachers. While committed to professional excellence, most educators are humble by nature and reluctant to promote their work, even when it is exemplary. This modesty not only makes it challenging for new educators to learn from these educational innovators, it greatly hampers the diffusion of innovation. Thus, the Tech-Enabled Educator Network seeks to take on the role of promoting the work of tech-enabled educators by featuring their exemplary blog posts, videos, podcasts, and conference presentations. 
    As an education professor, EdTech geek and avid conference attendee,  I’ve had the opportunity to meet many tech-enabled educators and hear their individual stories. Unfortunately, a common sentiment is that because they are on the leading edge of innovation, they often feel isolated in their work environment.
    Ananth Pai was at the cutting edge of using technology and especially games for learning in his classroom. Instead of leveraging Pai’s success, his superiors tried to ignore him and occasionally reprimanded him by reminding him to stick to school board approved curriculum. While his district hasn’t shut him down, they haven’t been supportive with resources or support.  ~ Excerpts from  Schwartz (2013). MindShiftHow Leadership Can Make or Break Classroom Innovation.
    As an aggregator of educational innovation, the Tech-Enabled Educator Network hopes to reduce this isolation by providing educators with the opportunity to keep up with other innovative educators and let them know that they are not alone.
    While there are lots of great educators doing great things, the network focuses on the work of tech-enabled educators. That is educators that actively use social media and take advantage of technology to embrace open, collaborative, distributed actions in their professional lives.
    Tech-enabled educators understand the importance of being open so that others can benefit from their experience. Being open also creates greater opportunities to collaborate. Collaborating with other educators within their school and district, while connecting with educators from around the world is key to the development and infusion of new ideas and innovative educational practices.
    “With an investment in collaboration, teachers become nation builders.”  (Hargreaves, A.,  & Fullan, M., 2013)
     Tech-enabled educators understand the importance of distributed learning and distributed leadership. Instead of monopolizing the role of teacher, tech-enabled educators facilitate distributed learning and bring a variety of “teachers” into their classrooms to support student learning and professional growth.
    By embracing a distributed approach to leadership, tech-enabled educators realize that leadership isn’t about the title on the door or ones position in the organizational hierarchy. It is about influence – and whether they intentionally influence the knowledge, practice or motivation of others. Participating in professional discussions on Twitter, posting instructional resources on their blogs, or creating instructional videos are all actions that influence the knowledge, practice and motivation of other educators and thus serve to benefit the teaching profession.
    The Tech-Enabled Educator Network hopes to enhance the scope of influence of these tech-enabled educators by promoting their work and bringing it to the attention of broader education community. By facilitating the distribution of these innovative ideas we hope that we can collectively support the advancement of 21st century teaching and learning.
    Looking forward to a tech-enabled 2014!

    You can support the Tech-Enabled Educator Network by: