Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Episode 109 - The next best thing to being there, iste2010

It’s Wednesday June, 30th, 2010 and welcome to episode 109 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Across the country thousands of educators are on summer vacation and recharging their batteries for another school year. What many people forget about is that there are also thousands of educators taking time-out of their vacation plans and returning to school to catch-up on the latest developments in education.

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Many attend workshops, conferences, or go back to school to take graduate classes. With me today is such an educator. We have many teachers from the surrounding area that return to EIU each summer to take graduate level classes here. We have a guest on this podcast today to share what she is learning as well as offer her perspectives about how she is using Twitter as an educational tool to develop her own Personal Learning Network or PLN as it has become known.

Without further delay we will get right to it.

Cheryl: Hi, I’m Cheryl Walker. I never thought I would be a Twitter user but, Dr. Grissom has turned me into a big Twitter freak, and so now I get on Twitter every morning and check the “tweets”, or whatever you call them. And I have met some very helpful people and have bookmarked a lot of sites on Delicious. I never knew, for example, there were so many uses for Twitter in education, until I saw a “tweet” saying, “Use Twitter in education. And I went to that site and bookmarked that and then I also found a site called, issuu, it’s spelled differently: I-S-S-U-U, and it’s an online magazine and it has a lot of helpful hints. And one of the articles I found most helpful was called, “21st tips for Technology”, something like that. I bookmarked it on my Delicious account so, it’s there.

Tom: Okay, thank you! You know, one of the things about Twitter for teachers and educators, is that you get to meet people from all over the world. So I’m just curious, some of the people you’re following and talking back and forth, are they from just the United States or do you have anybody else from any other parts of the world?

Cheryl: There are a couple people from Canada, and I really sort of figured that out by accident, because of what they were “tweeting”. I thought, that doesn’t sound familiar to the United States, and then I thought about it, did a little bit of research, and I realized that these people were actually from Canada. And then there were some from the United Kingdom, I’m not sure exactly if they were from Great Britain or Ireland or what, but I could tell by what they were talking about that they were from over in the United Kingdom.

Tom: Yeah, and that’s one thing. Always check out the biographies. That is one thing I always tell teachers, if you’re new to Twitter and wanting to use it for educational value, make sure you put in your biography that you are a teacher, and just a little bit about yourself, like fifth grade teacher, whatever type of people you want to track to follow you. That’s one of the values out there. Also, whenever you go out and try finding new followers and things, if you find somebody else that’s a pretty prolific “tweeter”, you know, they make a lot of comments and have a lot of followers, if you go to their follower list and kind of go through and see who some of their followers are and you can follow them back. Just be selective with who you pick to follow.

End of Interview

My summer class is learning a lot from Twitter and as my students network of followers grows they will find increasing value with their PLN. A PLN does take some time to put together but if you put in the effort you will be rewarded many times over. As teachers, we can sometimes feel isolated in our classrooms but the world of the Internet and especially that of Personal Learning Networks opens up the entire world for collaboration that is fast and easy. Many of my graduate students now have followers from all over the United States and many are adding people from other countries as well.

Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology Pick of the Week this week is a couple of resources for those interested in adding to their Personal Learning Networks using Twitter. My first link is to a pbworks wiki called Twitter4Teachers and a link is available in the show notes.

The second link is to an older post from the Free Tech 4 Teachers blog about seven ways to find teachers on Twitter that offers additional resources for teachers wanting to find other teachers to follow.

The International Society for Technology in Education 2010 conference is currently underway this week in Denver, Colorado. Many teachers attending this conference are being introduced to Twitter and joining for the first time. The ISTE 2010 conference is one of the largest conferences dedicated to educational technologies and teaching.

Even though I cannot be at the ISTE 2010 conference this year I am getting a taste of it as many of my online friends are there. Many friends are sharing links using Twitter and even streaming live presentations from the conference. I was able to watch Keynote sessions live from the comfort of my office and participate in a Twitter discussion in real-time!

You will see many people at the conference using the hash tag #iste10 or #iste2010 in the tweets they post to Twitter. This makes it easy to search Twitter for content related to this conference. A hash tag is simply a unique identifier that begins with the # number symbol also known as the pound symbol here in the states.

Here is a great Twitter tip.

If you have a Twitter account go ahead and do a search for #iste10 using the Twitter search box and you will see many educators posting from the conference using this hash tag. Be sure to check out the biographies of people on twitter making these posts. If you so choose go ahead and follow them so you can continue to build your Personal Learning Network.

If you have a Twitter account be sure to give me a follow at

That wraps it up for episode 109 of Tech Talk for Teachers. I want to thank Cheryl for being our guest on todays show and for her sharing how she is using Twitter to develop her own PLN. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom. Keep on learning…