Most of us strive to be relevant. In his keynote address at Pearson eCollege’s CiTE 2009 User’s Conference, Michael Wesch talked about the crisis of significance and how education technology can help us be more relevant to our students. As formal educators we are all digital immigrants but more of us everyday are teaching to digital natives or immigrants that are assimilating quicker than we are.
As I’ve participated in education conferences over the past year I’ve noticed that sessions that include Web 2.0 or gaming are packed. This speaks to our collective desire to continue to be relevant to students. Personally, I’ve struggled to become an avid user of many Web 2.0 technologies. Perhaps it’s because I don’t feel like I’ve had anything to say. I had been perfectly content as a passive recipient of information and hadn’t felt the need to actually participate.
A few months ago I tried to commit to tweeting at least once a day. It lasted for two or three days and then sputtered to a stop. It felt like I was whispering into a vacuum.
Over the Summer I went to see the movie Julie and Julia. Most of us have heard of Julia Childs, the gourmet chef who taught us the art of French cooking. The movie wove her story into that of a young woman who was struggling with significance and decided to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook in one year as a way to become more engaged with life. She began to blog daily about her experience and then desperately hoped that someone would care. I won’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen it but she did eventually get a few fans.
The noise from Twitter continues to grow. Over the past few months alone we’ve heard about this tool being a primary outlet for the seeds of revolution in Iran following their disputed presidential elections. There was also a major hack attack against the platform which speaks to its stature as an important medium.
A distance education list serve I follow recently has a post about tweeting in the classroom. A stats professor had offered his students the opportunity to earn extra credit by tweeting about good and bad uses of statistics in the media. I also thought about how K-12 educators could ask students to tweet ideas about writing prompts. They may actually be motivated to write!
So, I’m making it public. Does anyone read this blog? I’m going to try to Tweet my way through the next 30 days. You can follow me @bmelearner to see how I do. I’m actually traveling in at least four different countries during that time span so if I meet my goal it will be quite an accomplishment.
Brian McKay Epp
Academic Trainer and Consultant