Gift for Administrators

Yesterday, this tweet from Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) caught my attention.

whitby tweet

whitby tweet

What a simple, yet powerful idea! I was finally able to get all of the teachers at my building to use Twitter, but I never could win over my administrators.  I am going to go build each of them an account this morning.  I think we all need to remember that the reason so many people quit Twitter is because they don’t see any value in it. Why? My guess is that they are simply not following the right people. The “right” people will differ for everyone.  If you are anything like me you have been building your PLN for a very long time and it is constantly changing. I invest a lot of time in my PLN because I know how much I will gain from it,  but how many administrators do you know of who have the time to spend months establishing a solid PLN?

My strategy? I am going to work backwards through the list of people I follow. Why backwards? Because those are the people who I have been following for the longest and I know the most about. I will list the people I have picked on a blog post later as well as a brief explanation of why I picked them. I hope lots of people take Tom’s advice and do this for their administrators. I would advise being very careful when creating their account that you keep it private and you let them fill out their profile. This account might become a large part of their digital identity. They deserve to be the ones to write up the information about them that appears in public. However, I fully plan on “pimping” my principal’s page. He is an avid golfer so I have some ideas of what to do for his background.

Would you like to be added to my list or do you have any suggestions for who should be added to the list? If you do please leave a comment.

16 thoughts on “Gift for Administrators

  1. Thanks for spreading the word on a simple plan. If we hope to change anything in education we will need the help of our educational leaders. Unfortunately,on the topic of technology in Education many of our leaders are not participating in the discussion. The Digital PLN is a new entry on the list of learning tools. Many of our leaders are still thinking about starting the list sometime in the future.
    The preloaded PLN jumpstarts their involvement in the discussion. If they are worth their salt, they will quickly see its value. PLN will be on the list of Professional Development seminars across the country.
    This from my mouth to God’s ear.
    Thanks for being in the dicussion

  2. Although I empathize with the sentiment behind this idea, I confess I have some hesitancy about it. Unlike being handing an iPod loaded with podcasts, which involves no identity infringement, I think most folks would prefer to handle their own online identities. Choice of whether or not to join an online service – or even specific online account usernames and/or Twitter IDs – is critical, I believe, for online identity formation (e.g., I wish I had a common username across services instead of being mcleod in some places, scottmcleod in others, and something else in yet others; I choose to use some online services but not others). What you choose for others may not necessarily be how they’d like to be represented. Also, third parties will begin treating those individuals’ online identities as authentic and representative, despite the fact that you, not they, created them. Your representation may or may not be accurate or fair to the person who has an online identity that supposedly represents her but instead represents your perceptions of her. It’s already tough enough trying to get a handle on the variety of ways in which we can be represented online without our permission. Despite the extremely good intentions here, I’m not sure I’d agree that this is a good thing to do.

    • Scott,
      I agree completely that online identities are something that should be handled by an individual. I think the very best solution is for anyone who wants to help their administrators see the value of Twitter is create a list of people to follow and link to all of the accounts. Schedule some time with them right away and sit down with them and help them create their account. Chances are they will be more accepting if we work with them rather that force it on them. This will allow us to help give them an instant PLN as well as explain the value of Twitter.

  3. What a great idea with many different implications. I agree with Scott’s sentiment about the online identity being ‘false’ in some way. I think sitting down with your admin and creating the account with them would be best, as Beth has suggested.

    My suggestion would be to give them a list of people to follow, like Beth is planning, and let them choose who they follow. If we define the “P” in PLN as “Personal,” then such a network should be a personal choice. If we define it as “Professional,” then it should meet the needs of the administrator’s professional needs-which only he or she knows.

    If you finally got all of your teachers on Twitter-what better PLN to start with than the teachers the administrator already knows? Once your administrator sees how Twitter ‘works’ with people he or she already knows, it may be easier for him/her to branch out to the important members you feel would be an asset to him/her.

    Please keep us posted, Beth, on how it goes!

    Mary Beth

  4. I love Tom’s idea but I think the limits of Twitter’s 140 characters kept us from having the conversation of how we would execute it. I completely agree that everyone needs to thoughtfully decide how they will present themselves online including username, picture, following, etc. I’m planning to collect names of active Twitter users with job descriptions similar to our admins. New users then decide who matches their needs. Thanks Beth for giving us a place to discuss this more fully.

  5. I think this post just proved why we need to go off Twitter to have deeper discussions. We all come to the table with different perspectives of how this should be handled. I raised the concern of creating an online profile for someone and Scott expanded on my initial thoughts.

    We could all work together to make a list of “must follows” but it is still important to customize the suggestions. Developing the perfect PLN is both an art and a science. It is not as simple as just following educators. It is critical to get the right mix. (I know I am preaching to the choir now.)

    Does anyone have any ideas for ways to approach this? What are your thoughts? Like Heidi said this is a great place to discuss this further.

  6. I am just beginning to use Twitter in class with plans to post daily assignments. I would like to know how / in what capacity you have used twitter in teaching besides in your PLN.

    Thanks in advance!

    ps .. the site is very much under construction in every way. google sites is blocked by TN state filter. =(

  7. The discussion throughout the internet underscores the recognition that this is a needed addition to the ongoing discussion of Technology in Education. The core of the idea is to fastrack administators in the adoption of social media in the development of Personal Learning Networks for life long learners or more specifically Educators. The need to involve Education leaders is obvious. The method is being debated here. For change to occur, the Superintendents, Principals and Assistant Principals must be involved. Tech educators and Higher Ed supporters have always been involved,but progress has not evolved.
    Maybe they are perceived more as computer people and not as educators as in the acceptable form established from the beginning of public education. This is not a perception anyone should subscribe to.
    I have dealt with this discussion since I began teaching in the ’70’s. We should ask why are these discussions still going on since the “70’s. My belief is that the leadership has never involved itself in the discussion. There is a long held theory among educators. If something is unpopular, wait long enough and it will go away. Educational fads come and go supporting every person who subscribes to that theory. There are some who place educational Technologuy in this category. If they deny it long enough it will go away before it has to be dealt with. It is hard to believe educated people think like this, but ask your colleagues for honest answers. Why does such a small percentage of educators embrace and employ technology in their teaching. Web 2.0 takes no money investment yet it has not been accepted by many.
    The key is the leadership. Are they personally aware of what is available or have they delegated all tech stuff to tech coordinators?
    The idea is to immerse educational leaders into a PLN. We as educators have discovered and embraced its potential. We need to make our non-participating educational leaders understand the necessity of having a PLN as a professional development tool.
    We have a good idea to involve the people who need to be involve3d for change. Objections to the idea must be recognized and addressed. That makes the idea stronger. Let us answer the objections and embrace the idea. We do not want to embrace the objection and abandon the idea. We will all lose.

  8. I think that, if presented to the administrator in advance, this is a very good idea. Creating an online identity without informing the person for whom you are creating it is probably not very ethical. Having said that, I support any measures that bring to light the value of social networking and other Web 2.0 tools in educational settings. Too many districts continue to view such resources as distractions and/or unnecessary draws on bandwidth. It is only with continued positive exposure and proactive activities such as this that perceptions will change and progress will be made.

  9. Maybe we should approach administrators with choice – Twitter? RSS feeds? A section on a Diigo/Delicious page with suggestions for administrators? I agree with Tom that we need to get our administrators fast-tracked into learning through PLNs if for no other reason than that they remain vital parts of our own networks. I also agree with Beth that deeper conversations are often necessary for deeper learning; however, what I love about my Twitter PLN is that it’s “messy,” and represents a tangle of new-perspective-spokes I can follow from the hub of my experience. Twitter acts a portal and indeed often enables deeper discussions – I certainly wouldn’t blog or leave as many comments on other blog, wikis, and articles without it. In many ways the “messiness” of Twitter makes it perfect for me in aseembling and following a PLN.

  10. My administrators have really latched onto Diigo this summer. I would guess this is because there is depth-of-discussion going on with Diigo. We have groups set up for the leadership teams in our school that are getting a good amount of use (for the small number of people who have jumped on board this summer). They’re reading blogs and commenting/Diigo-ing on those blogs.

    They have also dug into Google Reader. I think building the list of blogs they’re reading and getting them more comfortable with sharing on Diigo will be more beneficial in their case. There may be a time and place for Twitter, but I don’t see it is as now.

    Great idea, though, Tom. Thanks for running with it, Beth.

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  12. Another way to fast track people is to provide a one-click list to follow. Here is an Administrator list. This is not to say they should blindly click but these have been vetted by a trusted PLN member. You can make your own list.

  13. I love your idea of “gifting” them a starter list. It makes alot of sense from what I see. my only concern is that you are establishing their online identity for them, which could create problems for them down the track when they start using it to learn on their own. Perhaps get them to establish their accounts, then get them to follow the gifted people through a list (as tom says above actually) I know it’s not as easy, but if you can give them guidance and control it may help further down the track.

    Having said that, I think your idea is absolutely fab. and congrats on taking some initiative with your staff.

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