Welcome to the Fediverse

Three years ago when I first signed up for a Fosstodon account I really had no comprehension of what a wonderful universe of learning I was getting involved with. Fast forward three years and the impending erosion or collapse of the birdsite and I’m reevaluating my use of social media. I had forgotten how great it was to be with folks who posted interesting content and were more interested and engaged with what I was sharing too. I’m still a neophyte in this federated blogging world but already I can appreciate the richness of what is offered.

I am only beginning to appreciate what it means to be federated and to enjoy what the fediverse has to offer. I spent much of a good deal of my work years in public education and while I was there I worked as a school district technology leader and a classroom teacher who specialized in keyboarding, coding, staff development and digital citizenship. In addition to that I worked as a system administrator for Windows, LInux and LInux servers some of which existed as virtual machines. That unique mix of teacher and technology administrator left me with a broad skill set that I still enjoy today.

The district that I worked didn’t always have robust funding and that sent me looking for innovative solutions for teachers and students. Discussion outside of the classroom and insights from friends led me to consider Linux and open source as viable alternatives for education. I have found in the past almost twenty-five years that open source can provide answers and opportunities not found in proprietary solutions. WordPress is one of those open source gifts. When our school was struggling to afford software for our students and staff that provided a common platform for discussion I saw WordPress as that medium and I continue to believe that WordPress could easily be used in many PK12 classroom and could easily be used in most educational settings to provide an inexpensive and flexible program for home and school interaction.

I see some of those same possibilities with Mastodon and the federated blogging that it supports. At this point Mastodon has not seemed to make as many inroads into PK12 as it has into higher education. I hope that can change. I am recommending it to all of my personal learning network who are still mostly stuck at the birdsite. How can we get the word out to those folks in a way that doesn’t disparage what they are currently using. I think it’s possible to use Twitter and Mastodon. I don’t see it as an either/or but a both/and universe.

Twitter a medium for storytelling and more

I’ve been watching Andrew Fitzgerald’s, “Adventure’s in Twitter Fiction,” another interesting TED talk. I’ve been a Twitter user for almost six years.  I was not sure what Twitter was at first and a bit skeptical and unsure of how this worked. A bit more than four years ago I began to follow sources on Twitter and I found it superior to RSS feeds that I had been reading up until then. Andrew’s talk provides yet another application of Twitter and invites the viewer to consider yet other ways which Twitter empowers its users both active and passive to be part of an international multiple point broadcast network. Virtual Abbey is one such application of Twitter. Virtual Abbey tweets the Liturgy of the Hours each day. It’s a unique application of Twitter. I’ve found that using Twitter for conversation forces me to be more succinct and it also helps me to appreciate the power of just a few words.  Andrew’s talk is an invitation to consider the similarities between Twitter and the early days of radio. I’ve found Twitter a great way to follow sporting events that are not broadcast of blacked out locally. Thanks Andrew for a great talk.

[ted id=1841]

New direction

I recently wrote about fear and doubt and how I was uncertain of my future and how that future might include retirement. I walked all the way to the edge and even jumped off into retirement only to be recalled by one of my supervisors. A week ago I was summoned to the principal’s office for what I thought would be a scolding and lo and behold the man wanted me to return to the classroom. I’m being re-invented and in September I’ll be teaching seventh and eighth grade students how to stay safe on the internet, use tools like Google Docs and use their cell phones as learning tools.

The request and the experience has left me with a beginners mind. I’m reaching out to other teachers who’ve taught at this grade level before and who have had this assignment. For the last several years I’ve been a proponent of the educational uses of cell phones. I’ve been at loggerheads with the administration on this point. I’ve come to believe that cell phones are really the present and future direction of computing. For years we’ve been talking about one to one computing and only an elite few districts could actually pull it off. Most lacked the resources. Adding to the proliferation of cell phones is the emergence of the Net Book platform. The near and far term will see a melding of the two and in a relatively short period of time I think we’ll see an almost total disappearance of the traditional desktop and even laptop computers in favor of net centric devices that connect to both traditional 802.11 wireless networks and cellular networks. Recent events in Iran prove the effectiveness of low bandwidth tools like Twitter and SMS to get the message out.

Of course these tools can be dangerous in the hands of young people who frequently lack good judgement and use them to send inappropriate messages which put them and their futures in jeopardy. My assignment includes helping to change those behaviors. It’s a tall order but it’s one that’s got me excited and energized. I hope that you will continue to pray as I need those prayers and so do the students I’ll be working with.

Death of the news

Has anyone noticed that news is dying?  I don’t mean that there aren’t any stories to be covered. There are more stories now than there ever have been but those stories are being covered more and more by people like you and me. We’re blogging, tweeting, texting and in the process we’ve made the talking heads on cable news and the pundits at newspapers increasingly irrelevant. Newspapers are literally dying in front of our eyes and I believe more and more net generation people get their news from Drudge, Huffington and elsewhere.  What do you think?