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Trying to read Twitter’s new terms of service I realized why I never look at this kind of documents. And I guess I’m not the only one who automatically press the acceptance button once the “Terms of service” screen appears…

This time I’ve make an exception and I’ve read it and tried to understand (but it’s so boring…) the text. Even there are many sections, there are two that draw my attention: Privacy and Your (my, our) rights (this one I’ll leave it for another day).  In order to try to keep loyal to the original source, I’ve decided that the best would be to copy-paste it here:

Privacy

Any information that you provide to Twitter is subject to our Privacy Policy, which governs our collection and use of your information. You understand that through your use of the Services you consent to the collection and use (as set forth in the Privacy Policy) of this information, including the transfer of this information to the United States and/or other countries for storage, processing and use by Twitter. As part of providing you the Services, we may need to provide you with certain communications, such as service announcements and administrative messages. These communications are considered part of the Services and your Twitter account, which you may not be able to opt-out from receiving.

I don’t have a background in laws, so obviously there would be many aspects that I can easily misunderstand. However… shouldn’t there would be a limit of time for using and keeping our personal data once we’ve stopped using the service? If there isn’t any specification of a “deadline”, should I assume that twitter’s administrators will owe my personal information forever? I’f I’m not wrong, not very far ago people was complaining about Facebook terms of service because they said something as:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service.

Is Twitter doing the same? If so, should we care about it?

Anyway, may be the question is not about what exactly twitter and facebook are doing, but what is happening with users data, specially the personal information, in web 2.0 applications.


The course about “Microblogging and its possible uses for education” has ended, or almost, and I feel I should decide what I’m going to do with this blog (and some other ones I started one day, long ago, and now are kind of abandoned). Is it worth continuing/starting a blog if there isn’t an active community or network of people who could give feedback and, therefore,  add some value to these comments?

Stop, may be I’m being too pessimistic… the lack of feedback doesn’t mean the lack of readers. Probably there are lots of visitors who just read or have a quick look and after this they leave the blog …. 😉 Anyway, in case I decide to take this assumption, does it give me any strong reason for continuing writing? Why should I have to make public thoughts that, at first, are only interesting for me?

I ask myself all this because I conceive a blog as a tool for learning. In this case, it’s the appearance of a community, network, friends, whatever..what helps me learning by offering different approaches, ideas…whatever, but at least share something. If this feedback doesn’t exist, I need to think again why should I continue this blog.

After some days of doubts – and don’t know why but also a bit of guiltynes for not continuing the blog –  I’ve arrived to a conclusion. I’m going to use the blog as a personal diary of what I’m learning, reading or just to note down ideas that, otherwise, I would end forgetting and, who knows, may be can be useful for the thesis of the master.  By having the info on internet, I would be able to have access to from anywhere and the info won’t dissapear if my computer breaks down (although, who can guarantee that wordpress would always exist and keep the information forever?

And, of course, if by the way, I receive feedback from someone, that would be a good reward! 🙂

The first time I heard the term “edupunk”, edupunkI though I had heard it wrong… however, after thinking about it twice I couldn’t avoid smiling: the philosophy of “do it by yourself ” applied to education! Of course there’s nothing new about the term, there are many teachers who “survive” and manage to motivate their students thanks to experimentation… and what about those who learn by their own? Should they be called edupunks now?

“Edupunk, it seems, takes old-school Progressive educational tactics–hands-on learning that starts with the learner’s interests–and makes them relevant to today’s digital age, sometimes by forgoing digital technologies entirely.”

Stephen Downes

According to Downes words, the use of social networks, blogs and microblogging tools such as twitter, could be part of this punk approach of education as far as they follow students interests… Anyway, I guess the specific name of the tool has no importance, personally I’m starting to feel tired talking about myspace, facebook, twitter, orkut and so on… would any of them exist 5 years later? However, I’m quite sure that the attitude of adapting existing resources for solving personal needs will still exist.

Why there’s so much expectation with twitter in education, then? (or at least, that’s what I feel). Is it just a fashion or it is really adding something that didn’t exist before? To be honest, I should say that I find difficulties in answering this question because I still haven’t understonf what’s exactly the purpose of twitter… anyway, possibly that’s what make it so appealing from an edupunk point of view… as there isn’t an official way of using it, each one can use it according to their needs. At this point, I can’t avoid endind the post with a sentence I heard recently:

“Twitter has so few utility that it can be used for everything”

May be I should had written about this time ago…blog
but according to a spanish said “better late than never”, so here it goes my answer to the question “What’s a blog?”

Currently, my ideas about blogs are quite different that first impressions I got the first time I asked “but…what’s a blog?”

Obviously, reconstructing now what I thought at that moment is going to be quite difficult if not impossible. Anyway, in brief I would say that my understanding of blogs at that initial stage was “it’s something similar to a website, but easier to manage and free.” May be it was very simplistic, but for me, that was enough to loose fears associated to online publication and start believing that publishing on the www could easy and fast.

Actually, my ideas about blogs have changed, but I still keep in mind that reasons that encouraged me starting my first blog. Now, if I had to syntetize main aspects of blogs, I would point out to publication, networks and interactivity. By publication I’m referring to the fact that thanks to blogs many people with no skills in web development have been able to have their own online space  and public content regularly. Achieving some visibility has allow the appearance of networks of people with similar interests. Finally, thanks to interaction (although this is something that can be controled by the blog administrator) links with other users can be strengthen at the same time that it can be a first step towards online collaboration and cooperation.

This post is intended to give some ideas – or may be just to think about- adults’ fears at the time of writing a blog. Trying to find an answer to what Sabine commented in her blog entry “Blogging in the education of adults?” I just ended reading about digital native versus digital inmigrants. Despite the term coined by Marc Prensky offers multiple lectures, it can be interesting to have a close look at the following definition: “The importance of the distinction is this: As Digital Immigrants learn – like all immigrants, some better than others – to adapt to their environment, they always retain, to some degree, their “accent,” that is, their foot in the past. The “digital immigrant accent” can be seen in such things as turning to the Internet for information second rather than first, or in reading the manual for a program rather than assuming that the program itself will teach us to use it. Today’s older folk were “socialized” differently from their kids, and are now in the process of learning a new language. And a language learned later in life, scientists tell us, goes into a different part of the brain.”

Marc Prensky quoted at Henry Jenkins’ blog

May be this can help understanding why sometimes new media tools, such as blogs, aren’t used taking into account what they really possibilite. Personally, I must confess I haven’t any experience in adults education (except some unsuccessful internet lessons to my father… 😦

Anyway, what I feel is that the introduction of tools such as blogs, wikis or whatever you want with adults, should come together with a reflection of the medium. What are the differences between a blog and a website? Why is it worth using a blog in this context? Possibly, encouraging adults to struggle with technology is more difficult than motivating kids to do something with a computer. However, if we manage to make our adult students understand the possibilities of that tools we are showing them, we would have done a very important step in order to help them  face part of their fears.

“Create a blog where each student conducts text or multimedia interviews to gain insight to family history and traditions.”

Web 2.0 in the classroom

Personally, this suggestion is one of the most appealing to use in education. At certain point of your school life, there’s always an activity dealing with Genealogical Trees. Here and there, children start asking “mum- who was the mother of the grandmother of…” and so on. And this is how something that could be a very interesting exercise for not only knowing each one’s familiar routes, but also the political, economical and social context of a certain time. A Genealogical Tree can be useful but is not enough if what we pretend is to deep in the social, economic and political relations. That’s why I find very interesting the idea of doing multimedia interviews. The fact that the information is going to be recorded, filmed and published, can motivate students to prepare interviews better than if it was just an explantion about family traditions to the class. Here, preparing the interview implies getting information about many social, political and economical aspects of that time and place. This documentation work will help them understanding their forbears choices and decisions.

Cristina Durall Llobet de Comas, July 1889.On the other hand, learning about one’s family is not enough to understand the society of a particular time. It’s necessary to have a wider scope: that’s to say , a network of people whose biography will help you understand the conditionants and situations they had to face during their lifes. That’s why blogs can help this process. By building a network of blogs students can go from their most personal informations to something wider in where collaborating and sharing information is really meaningfull in order to understand the society of a certain time. Indeed, what I’m describing is a process of knowledge construction through blogs and people.

At this point I can’t avoid making reference to Vygotsky’s educational theories and the importance he paid to social interaction. Developping this activity will engage student in a dialogue that connects with this author aproach. Simultenously, even it’s not strictly an educational theory, I think this experience can be also used to show some of feminist postulates “ The personal is political”. Researching about one’s routes will lead you to an analysis of your family decisions according with the times and society they live in. After this, it’s quite easy that a process of self questionning starts.

If I had to summarize the aspects that I consider most defining of twitter, these are inmediacy and feedback. In consequennce, I also think these would be the traits that can be more unique at the time of aplying microblogging in education.

Even there are many articles suggesting ideas about how to use twitter in class, I prefer to skip the array of beneffits numerous professionals mention and concentrate in the few ideas and doubts I have about the use of microblogging for educational purposes. (Anyway, a good article where to find some interesting ideas could be in the Steve Wheeler’s post in his blog).

Briefly, my doubts about this tool deal about the specific contributions of twitter, among many others, to education.

Personally, the argument that something is exciting and motivating isn’t enough for me to decide use it at the class. To use someone’s else words, I quote the following extract from Tom Barrett’s blog
In my classroom and with the children I teach it has been an exciting tool to utilise and support learning. However it is one of many tools that we have at our disposal. I do not see it replacing any of the others we use nor do I see the positive impact upon learning being exclusive to Twitter.

So it’s possible to achieve same goals by other means, what’s exactly exclusive of twitter, or any other microblogging similar tool, that would justify the use of it? Shall teachers use new technologic tools in education just because they are motivating?

It has also been pointed out the possibilities of using twitter in order to get support at answering questions that may arise during the class time.

Peer support and exchange: during the lesson
While perusing the Tweets of other educators, I came across the idea of using Twitter as a back channel and realised this would be perfect for students like the one who wanted to ask a question without calling attention to herself. I also thought that the keeners would enjoy using this as a means of sharing or displaying their knowledge or moving ahead of the lesson with links and insights they might want to share with others.

Even it can be a good idea to use twitter to put questions, it can be trickier to use it at the same time the teacher is interacting with students. Are students and teachers prepared enough to face the multitasking skills that this kind of practices imply?

The idea that introducing technology inside the class can be motivating for students, is not new. Time ago, the use of video for educational purposes was a great challenge whereas now it seems that blogs, among other resources web 2.0, are on the spot. The results of such initiatives are difficult to evaluate. Here and there is easy to find articles claiming the advantages of the use of new technologies in education.

In Pembina Trails School Division website, there are some ideas extracted from different online sources about the use of blogs in education. Briefly, we could say that using blogs can be a good way of promoting equally participation, visualizing the learning process, stimulating debate outside the class walls as well as providing resources related with the course contents, among many other aspects.
However, is it essential the use of blogs to reach that goals? Or, in other words, does the use of blogs in class guarantee some of the mentioned objectives such as the equally participation of students in debates? Personally, I feel that, even the use of a certain technology has some implicit meaning, it isn’t enough to guarantee success. Related to this, it is interesting to have a look at Julie Sturgeon’s article Five Don’ts of Classroom Blogging. Despite my differences with some of her suggestions, I consider it’s interesting to think about how you, as a teacher, are going to encourage your students to use blogs in a way that helps achieving the objectives you have previously set up. Another interesting aspect of this article has to due with limits. From my point of view, school has to help students to understand and face the world in where they live, not to protect them against it, that’s why I consider some of her advices can be too protectionist. However, it is also true that, as far as you are dealing with minors, special attention has to be paid to certain aspects. Anyway, I wouldn’t support the use, and need, of special applications for the educational context. If the school has enough resources to pay for them it is ok, but if not, I don’t see anything bad in using free online tools.

Coming back to the question “why using blogs in education?”, I would consider that despite praises, we should be more skeptical. From my point of view, many of the benefits attributed to blogs aren’t so exclusively and could be achived by other means (more traditional and therefore, not so fashionable as blogs). However, something I consider quite interesting about the use of blogs in education is their contribution to knowledge construction. Related to this, I would strongly reccomend to read Richard E. Ferdig and Kaye D. Trammell article Content Delivery in the “Blogosphere”. Among many other ideas, they highlight the importance of publishing students’ work and content productions. As they underline, special attenntion has to be paid to hyperlinks and feeback.
And because blogs can be commented on, they provide opportunities for feedback and potential scaffolding of new ideas. Blogs also feature hyperlinks, which help students begin to understand the relational and contextual basis of knowledge, knowledge construction and meaning making.

According to the authors, the use of blogs in education can be a powerful way of applying a constructivist pedagogy. At this point, is where I stop questioning and I copy paste the following question which names Stephen Downes’ article

For me, the most difficult is always how to start. Fortunately, this time I found an image that has  helped me a little.

Welcome!

It suggest me there are always hidden resources that can be helpful. So, feel comfortable and enjoy the travel!