I have been following a teacher online, his name is Mr. Kemp (Craig), he is a middle school teacher based out of New Zealand. Craig is also the founder of the online education twitter chat #whatisschool. He defines the space as a place where “people can express an unbiased response to questions about schooling, where educators have a voice in shaping the future through their experience, recommendations and interests.” They bring up topics such as defining and developing school culture, creativity, relationships, empathy, etc.
I have been exploring the online educational chat space, and it is definitely a great way to connect with other teachers and share your ideas. Craig and other moderators facilitate the chat through posting questions prior to the beginning of the chat, and then use the hashtag to keep track of answers. Because it is an online chat, you receive teachers from many different faculties, grades and countries. It provides teachers opportunities to learn about different perspectives of teaching while providing their own insights. This is a great way to start making global connections, which is also an area of Education Craig is very passionate about (I wonder why I am following him! 😉 ).
While I have used twitter, I find it is not the most productive site for having conversation on. I have never participated in a large group chat, so I do admit my bias and lack of knowledge may influence my criticality of the process. While limited character count could be beneficial for large group discussions, I find it could be limiting. I also find twitter to be slightly disorganized when it comes having conversations with multiple people. If everyone is using the same hashtag then conversations between people will not remain in order as they are chronologically listed, so you would have to continue scrolling through tweets to find the next message in that conversation. If #whatisschool becomes bigger, I think it would beneficial to create a forum of some sort in which only those involved in the conversation for #whatisschool can participate.
Another reason I enjoy following Craig’s blog is because he brings in a variety of guest bloggers from multiple fields of education, to provide a new perspective on different topics. For example, he recently had a grade 3-5 ICT teacher in the Philippines who discussed educational technology being used in teaching core subjects (one of the main 21st century literacies).
I am thinking about giving one of the online chats a try! I’ll keep my eye out on a topic I find interesting and I’ll let you know how it goes!