Bites & Samples

Twitter and Flipboard are useful tools that enable teachers to get a quick and easy start to personalised professional development. Their strength is in providing bite-sized information that keeps you updated and also reveals new areas for development - things you didn't know you didn't know. 

If you are new to Twitter and Flipboard, the videos below will help you understand what and how they work as well as provide instructions to install and set up an account. 

Twitter

Twitter might be the most powerful tool in this list as it allows teachers to hear directly from persons or organisations that are professionally significant. For example, a teacher who is flipping a classroom with a curriculum based on UbD principles can follow Jonathan Bergman (@jonbergman) and Aaron Sams (@samaaron), pioneers of the Flipped Classroom; Grant Wiggins (@grantwiggins) and Jay McTighe (@jaymctighe), authors of Understanding by Design. These persons often post tweets and links that are closely related to their field of expertise.

By seeing who these persons are following, teachers are likely to find new persons of interest that are relevant to their field. For instance, a Social Studies teacher might want to take a look at who Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (@leehsienloong) follows on Twitter.

Many organisations are recognising the power of Twitter to connect and likewise have set up accounts to post news and updates about themselves. Some organisations serve as curators taking articles and news from a wide range of sources and tweeting about them. Here is a short list of those that I've found useful. 

  • edutopia (@edutopia)
  • Educational Technology Program @ The University of Texas (@EDTECH_UTB)
  • Harvard Education (@hgse)
  • Institute of Education London (@ioe_London)

Twitter is also useful to connect with a like-minded community. It isn't difficult to find teachers - local and abroad - who are pursuing the same interests as you. For example, a teacher who is experimenting with mobile devices in the classroom can ask the Twitter community and learn from the experiences of other teachers. It's using Twitter to create your own Professional Learning Network (PLN). 

One way to find fellow users is to browse along a topic. This can be found by clicking on 'Discover' and typing in the topic that you are interested in. It is helpful to key in different iterations, e.g. Assessment for Learning, AFL. Twitter will list every tweet related to the topic and organise it in a timeline. As you browse through the tweets, look out for users whose posts you find interesting or relevant. They could be candidates for you to follow. 

Join the local Twitter community on education by using the hashtag #edsg. Posting a question or say something about your experience in this workshop so far. Remember to include the hashtag in your tweet. E.g.

Preparing P5 geometry lessons: What tools are useful for Assessment for Learning? #edsg

If there is one local educator to follow: Kwan Tuck Soon (@tucksoon) can be described as a maven who tweets across an incredibly wide range of topics relevant to education. He has compiled a list of Singapore educators you should follow on Twitter. Otherwise, here's a small group for you to start with.

Finally, Twitter also functions as a micro-blogging tool. The 140 characters limit forces brevity and clarity in your reflections, and doesn't take more than a minute to post. Besides reflections, use it to record articles or videos viewed along with your summary or response.

Tweet your thoughts and reflections throughout this workshop and include the hashtag #edsg

Flipboard

Flipboard functions like a magazine that only publishes content curated by you. The most useful feature is that it is able to condense a wide variety of sources - RSS, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram - and organise it into a single page.

To create your personalised magazine, start by searching along topics. Flipboard is a social-network aggregation application which means that the search results are displayed according to its popularity. If you find a source that you like, tap 'Subscribe' and it'll be added to your magazine.

 To add accounts, tap the red flag located at the top right and select 'Accounts'. Select the account you wish to add into your magazine and follow the instructions on-screen.

 

 

Coursera

There's been a lot of attention and debate about MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and it is an experiment that is still ongoing. The good news is that if both teacher and student start with the right attitudes, the benefits outweigh the troubles. Of the Big Three - Coursera, EdX, Udacity - I personally find Coursera to be the best as it collaborates with the most number of institutions to provide a breadth and depth of courses that is unmatched.

The best way to browse through the courses available is in the Courses page. On the left are categories that sort and filter for courses that are of relevance. Mid-2013, Coursera opened a new category 'Teacher Professional Development' which is available at the end of the category list. Most courses provide a certificate upon completion and the time spent can be included as part of your training hours. Do check with the School Staff Developer and Reporting Officer before proceeding.

It is important to regard these online courses as a formal part your professional development. Set aside time each week to complete the videos and assignments and insist that everyone, including yourself - respects the time as they would for any other course or workshop.

Tweet about the course you have enrolled and include the hashtag #edsg.

Others

There will be times when skills beyond the classroom are required. Most of these would revolve around IT and media. Lynda.com is a great resource to learn any skill that is related to software. For a fee, subscribers have access to all training videos and material available. For media and publishing, creativeLIVE provides courses taught by well-known professionals. Charges vary depending on the course taught, but are streamed live for free. 

Do note that many skills including IT and beyond can be learned on YouTube. However, be prepared to browse through several different sources to get the skills you need.

An oft-overlooked but time-tested method is the humble book. School libraries are usually well-stocked with popular and relevant titles. Otherwise, READ@Academy provides a wide range of titles along with a delivery service if transport is a problem.