Friday, February 28, 2014

Tweet potato chips

If you'll pardon the unintended double entendre, there's a point to be made here. Seriously.  There is a plethora of research (trust me...or Google it) suggesting that the brain's response to foods high in fat and carbohydrates is to keep eating those foods even when we are full, not hungry, or know we shouldn't.  Thus, we are likely to have difficulty eating just one potato chip, regardless of who manufactures it.

Ditto with tweets.

I am again checking in with Twitter, trying to be open minded, and willing to embrace this tool if I can figure out how to manage (or ignore?) the barrage that seems part and parcel of the Twitter-verse.  There are individuals whose lives seem limited to the interstices of their tweets. How much of that can possibly be worth my time?

On the scale of technology comfort and expertise (assuming one exists; if not, it should), Twitter is at the not-all-that-comfortable and wow-I-feel-silly end of the continuum for me. The good news is that it reminds me how it feels to be a learner, a novice, a student.  The bad news is that I'm not climbing this particular learning curve very gracefully.

In discussions of Twitter as a teaching tool, there are teachers who use it to hone foreign language skills (the premise being that a 140-characters limit removes some of the anxiety of writing in a second language), encourage in-class debate at a speed and increased participation not offered by the traditional raising of the hand, and craft narrative stories 140 characters at a time.  (Some of the best resources I've found are at the end of this post.)

But without a strategy or focus for Twitter, it quickly becomes an exercise in trying not to eat the entire bag of chips, with a key difference being that the bag of tweets never empties, despite the rate of consumption.

Perhaps my Achilles tendency is Twitter-specific.

Teaching with Twitter: 5 Resources for Getting Started
A Primer for EdTech: Tools for K-12 and Higher Ed. Teachers
Inside Higher Ed: Teaching with Twitter
The Guardian: Can Twitter Open Up a New Space for Learning, Teaching and Thinking?
A Point of View: Why I Don't Tweet

And for the really adventurous: Twitter Vs. Zombies: New Media Literacy and the Virtual Flash Mob

Monday, February 17, 2014

A million pounds of scrap metal

The conversation went something like this:
"We found close to 80 tires on 140 acres. And the scrap metal?  At the most recent price of eleven cents per pound....let's just say that's a whole lot of Coke cans."   
"Four old truck trailers--and another two in a separate location made of aluminum (which were used to store feed for cattle)--plus a silo full of corn (even mildewed) was $10,000 worth of corn."
"It's extraordinary to see someone's life come down to scrap metal"
How often do our lives amount to scrap metal? The things we didn't prize, didn't take the time to count, or assumed weren't worth the effort may be of more value than we realize.

A million pounds of scrap metal make a difference, even though it may not be the difference we intended.