I had heard a lot about Tumblr (Links to an external site.), so I decided to check it out.
As teachers, we are expected and, indeed it is essential for any educator interested in furthering their career, to engage in continuing education. This learning could take place in a more traditional, formalized setting, e.g. university studies, professional cohorts, and conferences, or via online sites such as Tumblr. When I created my account, I was asked to pick specific blogs to follow. Some of the blogs that I picked, like music, have more to do with my personal interests than my professional ones. Others, such as Educational Technology, are directly related to my studies and work.
I see Tumblr as a great tool for staying up to date on the most current happenings in the educational field. It provides information that can be shared with my working colleagues. This information can also provide a platform from which grant money could be requested. Another benefit to using Tumblr is the potential for building a large professional network. Tumblr is very social in nature. Blogs are posted; they can be reblogged and commented upon. Many of Tumblr's users also use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Thus, it is very easy to create a social network where one can share their thoughts on a variety of subjects and very quickly push these thoughts out to a potentially large audience. I also like Medium for this purpose. Tumblr would be a great tool for building one's professional platform. A user can get his or her name "out there" and create new career opportunities.
The only drawback I see (and I have not used it extensively, so I could be mistaken) is that, due to its short, rapid fire deluges of information, there does not seem to be much research to back up its bloggers' assertions.
What do you think? As always, I would love to hear from others. Please comment below if you have any opinions or insights to share.
In Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing roles for Educators and Designers, George Siemens ponders the cost of what he calls "participative tools."
"Is an expert, in the eyes of a searcher using Google, someone with an established record of research and contributions to a field, or is an expert the person who appears on the first few pages of a web search?"
-Siemens, p. 5
"...when participative tools are used to duplicate the academic functions of peer review and formal publication, the authority and authenticity of the resulting information is potentially suspect."
-Siemens, p. 6
While technology, especially the Internet, has made it easier than ever before to access information, it has also created a learning culture where everyone's opinion can find an audience. The anything goes pathos of the Internet has birthed a community where unfounded, totally biased opinions are considered as valid as research-based findings. Proponents of this "equally valid" form of thinking cite the Internet's democratic nature, where the playing field has been leveled and all persons potentially have the opportunity to contribute to online discussions, chats, and "scholarly" (yes, I am using this term loosely) sites like Wikipedia, as the ultimate in free form expression. However, at what cost does this expression come? Like Siemens states, when "the authority and authenticity of the resulting information is potentially suspect," of what real value is the information? I've lost count of the number of times that I have attempted to research a topic and clicked on what I thought would be a valid source only to find that I was reading someone's unfounded diatribe against, say, teacher unions.Of course, there are search tools such as Google Scholar that more effectively filter the content that comes up in a search, but when we use these, we are limiting the democratic nature of what makes the Internet such a revolutionary tool.
This fact that this dichotomy exists, where information, whether it comes from Google or Google Scholar, is considered equally valid, proves that technology has, as Siemens contends, "rewired" the way we, as a culture, think. If, like me, you are a teacher, than you have trained your mind to search out reliable sources of information. You use tools like Google Scholar to help you do so. However, can this be said of our society at large? I would say no. I have many friends, all of whom hold university degrees, who consider Twitter feeds to be as reliable a source of information as academic publishings. They would never have thought this way while they were completing their degrees. Why? There was no Twitter. The Internet was in its infancy. We still consulted books for our information. Books where ideas were backed by research and sources were cited. Now, twenty years later, these same people are willing to accept that a person with the Twitter username "@BuildtheWall" is somehow providing a valid, unbiased comment regarding Mexican immigration. Quite alarming when you think of it.
What do you think? If you are so inclined, please leave a comment below.
I use social networks, mostly Twitter and Facebook, occasionally LinkedIn, to connect with professionals in the worlds of education and writing (Twitter) and to stay in touch with friends and family (Facebook). Twitter is especially useful in the world of education. By following a number of education professionals, I have been exposed to different teaching theories and technologies that I have been able to employ in my own classroom. This has definitely helped my progress as a teacher.
One personal goal I am setting for myself is to use Social Networks on a more frequent basis. I know that if I want to maximize the potential of social media, I will need to commit to using it multiple times daily. This includes reading my Twitter feed, tweeting and retweeting, and following others who share information that I find valuable. The same goes for Facebook. The more pages that I follow and the more often that I post, the more ideas I will be exposed to. Ideally, this would also lead to more people being exposed to my ideas. This free flowing exchange of ideas is what makes Social Networking platforms so valuable for education professionals.
I want to hear from you. How do you use Social Networks? Which ones do you use? Do you have any suggestions on how I can increase my Social Media presence? Please leave a comment below.
Though I have many concerns, thoughts, and opinions, some of which are even founded, regarding the current state of education, I am currently in the middle of molding them into a recognizable, coherent shape that I hope most readers will recognize as a blog. Once I have completed this soul-searching, introspective journey, I will share my findings with you, dear reader.
Until then, carry on with your noble endeavor, whatever it may be!
I am a Special Education teacher currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Information & Learning Technologies (Option: K-12) at CU Denver. I work at Boulder High School in Boulder, CO. Here you will find my thoughts on education.