Social Media – Part II – The Long Tail

(Cross Posted at edSocialMedia)

The Long Tail was first coined by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 Wired magazine article to describe the niche strategy of businesses, such as Amazon.com or Netflix, that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities.” (Wikipedia)

The Long Tail became relevant to me as I connected with education 2-15-2009 11-37-40 PM (WinCE)technologists around the world through my blog and Bloglines RSS blog reader.  We were the sliver on The Long Tail that was interested in education and technology — a small distributed group with a niche interest.  The Internet allowed us to connect to a global network of educators.  I soon found myself listening to a number of educational technology podcasts.

My first podcasts were conference presentations by Alan November and John Palmfrey at the NEIT conference in 2005.  Then, I found Wes Freyer’s blog where he produces some of the most amazing podcasts from conferences around the country.  Next, I found EdTechTalkJeff Lebow and Dave Cormier hosted a weekly live webcast with a text chat room to participate in the back channel where they interviewed people from the EdTech world.  The live broadcasts with a chat room for listeners to participate created real community around their show.  All shows were archived as poscasts with chat transcripts as part of the post.

blue-with-headphones (WinCE) After listening to a number of EdTechTalk podcasts, Jeff and Dave begin speaking about Webcast Academy, a way to learn how to Webcast.  I thought, “this has to be full and I’ll never get a spot”.  Then, “Is this really free?  Who is funding these guys?  Who else is participating in Webcast Academy?” Jeff and Dave answered these questions and more in their Back to Basics episode.  I signed up for Webcast Academy and arvind grover agreed to be my co-host.  We learned to webcast though a series of podcasts and then a series of screencasts.

After 5 webcasts on Webcast Academy, Jeff and Dave asked us to make the jump over the EdTechTalk.  Our first interview on EdTechTalk was Chris Lehmann, during his planning year for Science Leadership Academy. Over the past three years, we produced 95 shows and have grown a great deal as webcasters.  The EdTechTalk network has grown to over 11 weekly and bi-weekly webcasts.  Webcast Academy continues to graduate classes of webcasters to EdTechtalk.

So why tell this story?  Why do I think it is amazing?  As I said in my last post, social media is all about participating in the conversation.  EdTechTalk allowed arvind and me to be part of a global conversation around education and technology.  We found The Long Tail of educators interested in technology.  A few short years ago, this was not possible.  After 95 webcasts, we learn new tools and techniques each week as we continue to build our network of educators who are pushing the boundaries of learning with technology.

Image 1: http://flickr.com/photos/arvindgrover/770886287
Image 2: http://flickr.com/photos/alexragone/3283792900/

Social Networking from Faculty and Student Perspectives

Over the past two weeks arvind and I have discussed Social Networking on our webcast over at EdTechTalk.  The first show consisted of us discussing facebook social networks from the faculty perspective based on the Ohio Education Association’s recommendation that educators delete the social networking  accounts.  Here is the first show: 21st Century Learning #58: A Discussion of the Issues Surrounding Social Networking Between Faculty and Students

The second week we were excited to have four students join in the myspaceconversation.  They mostly agreed that it was a good idea to keep some separation between school and our personal lives but had some great insights into how these different media are merging — including the thought that teachers and students might be blackberry texting each other before long.  Here’s a link to the second show: 21st Century Learning #59: Students Discussing Social Networking between Faculty and Students.

I think that these two pieces are a good orientation to social networking for faculty and administrators around the world.  If you’re interested in this topic, you might also want to check out: EdTechTalk #80 with Tom Wood, cyber safety advocate

What do you think? What would you add or subtract?  What social networking resources do you use?

Nomination for Technology & Learning Leader of the Year : Jeff Lebow

Recommendation for Jeff Lebow

I first met Jeff Lebow while listening to an EdTechTalk podcast that was published in the Winter of 2005. EdTechTalk and Worldbridges were foggy to me back then. I was not sure if it was a few or many people. A huge server farm or just a few.

After listening for a while, I realized that it was only Jeff and Dave Cormier supporting the servers, putting in the time, and creating content for EdTechTalk. Then Jeff offered something called Webcast Academy. A way for the average user to learn how to webcast — to participate and use the EdTechTalk servers to enhance the community that Jeff had created. I thought, “I would never be able to get into that class — There must be so many people signed up by now — and plus — I have three young children and can’t participate live.” I signed up anyway and started listening to the podcast recordings of their Webcast Academy sessions. After a few sessions, I actually learned how to webcast, found a co-host and started to do a weekly show with arvind grover, Director of Technology at Hewitt School.

Fourty episodes later, we’re still webcasting with the support of Jeff Lebow. I’ve never given Jeff a dime, and he has happily funded our servers and training by working at his day job over the past two years.

Watching EdTechTalk develop over the past two years has been amazing. We now have over 8 weekly webcasts and an environment that supports teachers integrating technology around the world.

With this type of influence, Jeff Lebow, deserves your award. As the world changes, alternative ways of professional development will become more and more common, and I believe that the professional learning community that Jeff Lebow has created is a powerful example of this new world of professional growth.

Thank you for your time.

Skype in Global Ed Program?

Question: I am extremely interested in using Skype in our Global Ed program. Do you give workshops or have good reference materials to pass on to me?

My Response:

Hi,

I webcast weekly at http://www.edtechtalk.com and Skype is the program we use to conference the participants together. I am going to give a workshop in the fall in Baltimore, but I think that with skype and a partner school, you can get this going.

I posted some directions on how we video conferenced with china here: http://www.learning-blog.org/2006/12/05/video-skyping-with-china/

There are so many resources out there. I would check out the Webheads in Action: http://webheadsinaction.org/ for a great group of international teacher where you can create these types of connections. Also, check out http://flatclassroomproject.wikispaces.com/.

I hope this helps.

– Alex

There are tons of other resources… What else am I missing?

EducationBridges.net Elgg

I never thought that the EducationBridges.net Elgg would be such an interesting place to visit. It’s almost become my aggregator since I don’t always have the time to open my Flock Aggregator each day. I get an global perspecive on educational technology, and it’s hard to believe that this space is continuing to grow. Here are some quick examples:

John Patten writes, “A teacher sent me an email this morning asking me to look at the logs for his Moodle site. Yesterday he started a forum on his site for the
very first time. He had almost 2000 hits on his site yesterday, in one
day! Granted some of theses hits are the same students going to
different areas in his Moodle site, but that was still pretty
impressive.”

Felicia George writes, “I was frustrated by the inability to get any sound on my computer. I decided to bite the bullet and do some troubleshooting. I followed the directions under the control panel until I reached a point where I didn’t understand what I was doing. Then, I did what I should have
done first. I switched the speakers from the ones on my computer to the ones that I knew worked. Now I have sound.”

and

Beth Ritter-Guth writes: Today was a really productive day. The students in my Honors College English 1 class exploded mentos and diet coke to demonstrate the writing process. We were going for distance. Our chem professor donated goggles. It was
a lot of fun.

… So, what does this all have to do with learning to write? The best
writers are the ones who care about the world they write in 🙂

So invite your teachers to check it out. Go to EducationBridges.net and register. Click on Read What Other Folks are Saying to see what’s happening in this space.

Happy Browsing.

Blogged with Flock

Back to Blogging…

It’s been a while. I’ve been reading, and writing, and listening, but not here. I’ve been watching the EducationBridges.net Elgg, working on a web site for a friend’s charter school, and Arvind and I have begun webcasting again at EdTechTalk.com.

But what I’ve been working hardest on is the day job. Rolling out 18 new SmartBoard rooms, 30 Tablet PCs, and a new community portal web site. We’ve really pushed the professional development model for faculty, and those Tablet PC ‘Fellows’ are really changing their teaching to create more interesting and effective classrooms. Today I met with two of our Tablet PC fellows, and in both conversations, the fellows were reflecting on their learning, and thus reflecting on the learning of their students. The conversations are so exciting. One fellow said, “I’m really excited to use the Tablet in a way that will speak to some of the students that I don’t teach to during class discussions.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s really not about the technology, but using a tool to enhancing the learning that happens in the classroom. That type of comment is what makes the past four weeks of intense work pay off. I went home with a good feeling today!

Two more things… Tomorrow at 1:00 pm EST, Arvind and I are interviewing Fred Bartels , a most inspirational educator and the creator of the School Computing Wiki. Please join us at http://www.edtechtalk.com/chat.

Lastly, tomorrow afternoon I begin working with our Math Department on Lesson Study. I am very honored and excited to be part of this group of faculty who will be observing a faculty member teach the same lesson multiple times and then work on making it better through conversation. Now that’s collaboration.

Until Next time…

We've Graduated!!!

Arvind Grover and I are moving over the EdTechTalk for our first post-graduation webcast this Friday, June 16, 2006 at 12:00pm EST (16:00 GMT). We’re very excited to be speaking with Chris Lehmann who is the Principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA — Opening this September. We’ll be discussing what a new school in the 21st Century looks like.

I hope that you can all tune in then. You can ask questions of Chris or us in the chat room at EdTechTalk.com.

If you’ve missed the webcast, check out our wiki for archives of past shows.

Last — but certainly not least, thanks to Jeff Lebow and Dave Cormier and the other Webcast Academy Interns for all of their support and amazing work over the past weeks. This has truly been an phenominal year for me, and I owe so much of my growth to this network of learners.