Monday, February 4, 2013

Drinking from a fire hose

Trying to get information from the Internet using tools like Twitter, Diigo, Google+, and blogs is like trying to take a drink from a firehose. You can only take a little bit at a time and most of it goes right on by. This is reality.

Another example would be going to an evening social event at an educational conference with a large group of people from your own grade level or subject area. You can't be part of every conversation. There might be some real interesting conversations going on across the room that you aren't part of. And when you decide it is time to leave and get to bed, the conversations may still be going on and you will be missing out on them.

One more example would be walking into a library or bookstore and being overwhelmed by the books, magazines, newspapers, and other resources. You can't possibly read or browse through them all. We have learned to manage this situation though - we only go to the library or book store when we have time and it is convenient. When we go to the library we are usually looking for something specific and we go right to the sections that we have an interest in. But when I go to the bookstore, I am usually just browsing for something interesting, again in an area I am interested in, but not really knowing what I am looking for.

This is how you need to handle the information coming at your from Twitter and other online resources. Don't feel you have to check every day or read everything you come across. Check Twitter when you have time and when it is convenient. Use Google Search when there is something specific you need to find information about.

I might go days at a time (or even a week or more) without checking Twitter. I check it when I have time, and when it is convenient. Usually in the evenings when I am watching TV during commercial breaks. And like in the library or bookstore, I just look for things I have an interest in. And when I find something of interest, I don't feel I have to read it immediately. I bookmark it in Diigo to check on when I have time or I pass it on to someone who I know would be interested in it.

I would like to respond to a few of your comments from Saturday's check-in form. Nobody mentioned searching for hashtags in your subject or grade level.

Kiersten, Elizabeth, and Amber; Have you tried searching on the #engchat or #engteacher hashtags?

Sally, Leslie; Have you tried searching on #3rdchat?  Marla and Jenna on #4thchat? Marie and Jenna on #5thchat? Becky on #kinderchat and #kedu?,  Kiley on #1stchat?

Kathleen;  Have your tried searching on #gtchat?

Susan; I just did a search on #reading and found this - Is Writing Practice the Key to Helping Struggling Readers?   - however #reading is a generic hashtag that people use for things like "I am #reading" - I will keep looking for a hashtag specifically for reading teachers.

Several of you mentioned the time it takes to find something. Because I am putting an expectation on you to find things on Twitter you may feel this way. Remember that I stress you use Twitter when you have time and when it is convenient, basically browsing to see if you find anything interesting. Pinerest is more visual, but I find it even more general than Twitter. I find a lot of things that I pass on to other teachers, but I can't narrow down things or carry on a conversation on Pinterest.

Several of you also mentioned it is not easy to find specific information on Twitter. This is basically true, it is more for finding out what is currently being discussed, current articles, blog posts, etc. To find specific information you need to post your question to a chat group like #edchat. In my case I add the hashtags for #adedu (Apple Distinguished Educator), #googlect (Google Certified Teacher) or #edtech (educational technology). Or you need to build up the number of followers so when you post a question you have a large number of people that will read it.

Don't forget about my notes in Evernote on all the educational hashtags you could possibly search on.

Please take a few minutes and read Sally's blog post about "The Value of Twitter." I hope you all get to this point by the end of this course :-)

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