As my red eye flight crosses the Mason-Dixon line (at least according to Jet Blu’s in flight TV monitor [note: As a first time flyer of Jet Blu I was excited to be able to watch TV on a continental us flight- Until they informed us that there’s a $2 charge for headphones and $5.99 for a movie- Hence my alternative activity which is more cost effective and lets me actually engage my brain!]) I can’t help but think back to last night when the Washington Post featured an article about educators using Twitter- and listed #Jedchat as one of the Twitter education groups! My first reaction was “o.k. it is a pretty big deal that out of the tens of thousands (millions?) of hashtags in the Twitter-verse the Washington Post included #Jedchat in it’s list.
Then I reviewed the article and thought to myself- this is what the influence of social media is all about. This is what #Jedchat is all about. Yet why does #Jedchat work? Why do Jewish educators and education stakeholders feel comfortable participating in #Jedchat? What makes #Jedchat unique? Does it have to do with pluralism or equality or all persuasions of Judaism coming together in harmony for the perfect educational symphony? Not necessarily- Though these are all offshoots and sub-goals of what #Jedchat provides.
When Akevy, Dov and I had our first Google Hangout our vision was very simple: we wanted to create a platform whose driving question (partial-plug for project based learning) for all genuine professional educators was universal; namely- “How can we provide our students with deep authentic learning experiences.”
That’s ‘all’ it took to launch #Jedchat on Twitter. (And yes Israel- we will eventually have a chat in your time-zone!)
Twitter for edcuators is a unique learning experience. Yes at first it is intimidating because you feel like you are thrown into Midtown-Manhattan where everyone is bumping into you and you don’t know how long to walk, how long to stop, who to ask a question to, who to listen to…(do I sound like I am gearing up for The City!)
Soon you begin to follow a small group of colleagues you recognize and you slowly see the plethora of knowledge flying your way. You click on one the education links and start reading an article on something relevant to what you are doing in your school. You start reading and reflecting other tweets more carefully asking yourself if you agree or disagree or why. You slowly begin honing in and refining your real-time education techniques in ways that you may not have wanted to do before. You are making the learning happen for you without being pushed and it feels good that way. You get into a comfort zone. Then you start tweeting yourself, first by re-tweeting other people’s ideas you like and want to share and finally adding your own original thoughts and links.
Then you want to empower others as you’ve empowered yourself so you start showing your colleagues how Twitter works. At first most of them may not take you seriously. “but isn’t Twitter for celebrities” and all the usual stuff that becomes along with first time Twitter newbies. But be persistent and consistent with them and they will come to thank you the way you have thanked the people who showed you Twitter and #Jedchat. And keep up your great tweeting on #Jedchat!