There has been an explosion of Twitter users the past six months or so, which is interesting. There’s talk of the next big thing, how it is taking over for Facebook and changing the social interaction online and communication. I have used Twitter myself now for three years or so and in the beginning it was a community of three in my sphere and we kept each other updated on trivial details of our lives.

Using Twhirl from my desktop to update.

Using Twhirl from my desktop to update.

It became really useful when I set up a blog for a particular journey in the Caucasus and wanted to add a more realtime update to it other than the weekly blog entry. I embedded my tweets and my blog “came alive” with answers to the ubiquitous question “What are you doing now?” from the road.

Twitter really becomes more valuable the more interesting people you follow. I follow teachers and educators, but also journalists and musicians as well as people within the tech-industry and a nice selection of friends. Arne Krokan coined “thin tweets” and “thick tweets”, which I thought was interesting. It is actually more interesting to answer the Why? than What? in many instances. I particularly enjoy using Tweetsville for finding interesting resources and links, and hopefully share some of my own discoveries.

Twitter is constantly working on improving the expanding population of tweeters.

Twitter is constantly working on improving the expanding population of tweeters.

Surfing and reading up on edublogs across the net I realize that teachers have tried to use Twitter in their teaching, and I am intrigued by it. Nevertheless, I cannot quite see how it can be implemented in my class of ninegraders. I am familiar with Twitter Parties and Events like displayed in the screencast beneath, but I am not sure if I want to pursue it myself in my lessons.

What is true though is that I really benefit personally from the fantastic source of information, knowledge and competence which exists out there in Tweetsville. I have tried to convince others, but many shrug their head and don’t quite see the beauty of it. Personally I find that Facebook has become a dusty old interactive yearbook, whilst Twitter has taken a leap forward and keeps growing in importance to my online life.

Keep tweeting.

Useful guides for meaningful tweeting:
Art of the Tweet
Twitter is Messy

My Twitter name: mortenoddvik

In the recent week I have had the pleasure of taking part  in a social network for Norwegian teachers and educators called del&bruk. Formed by Ingunn and other entrepeneurs it has seen a mushrooming of new members by the day. One of the main issues predominant in discussions are the fear of sharing. The idea is to share your ideas on implementing ICT in your lessons and hopefully find useful ideas that others have posted. I have to admit that I haven’t been good at sharing specific lesson plans yet, but I am however engaged in discussions regarding past or ongoing projects in my own work. This network has given me an ample opportunity to share concerns and enthusiasm about my efforts to implement ICT in my lessons.
Top View
An interesting article at Betchablog addresses the issue with The New Digital Divide and points out the sad fact that the ones who usually find themselves in networks like del&bruk are already into the whole Web 2.0 community and are active in an array of networks from Flickr to Twitter and bookmark using del.icou.us and attend courses in Second Life. There is a distinction between the “will’s” and “will-nots”, and the latter have many excuses why they don’t want to take the plunge. Where does the responsibility lie?

The sole responsibility relies on the individual teacher and his/her willingness to try out new digital applications and technologies in the classroom. This is the case in most schools in Norway and beyond I dare say. Personally I do feel overwhelmed myself with all the possibilities and having actually taken the plunge myself with a trusted colleague we’ve now started blogging, making digital stories and films, producing music and taking advantage of Quizlet in language classes, Tutpup in Maths and Dipity in Social Studies. It does create a lot of extra work, but the experiences we make are valuable lessons to us as teachers and it is very rewarding discussing them with others attempting to do the same in communities like del&bruk.

Life itself is in fact lived in beta, and the most important thing is to take the plunge and try new things. Teachers are often being accused of being conservative, but del&bruk is yet another example of how we do take responsibility and try to change the status of the classroom and bring us into the 21st century. It will be interesting to see how things develop and I hope I will continue to share and participate fervently.

This blog of mine has been up and running, on and off, for nearly three years. I have written in both English and Norwegian – and I keep asking myself why I write English as Norwegian is my native tongue.

Since 2005 I have become quite an avid user of online content, social networks such as Flickr (my first one), last.fm (+ hypemachine this past week – fantastic combo), beloved Twitter, love-to-hate-but-a-necessity Facebook and in recent months iPhone compatible sites/apps such as Brightkite, Nearby, Evernote, Aroundme and others which I have soon forgot. Some a bare necessity for an active online life and others not so much.
Elements
Language of preference in all of these places are naturally; English. I don’t mind that, and considering 1 follower and perhaps the occasional friend or stranger swinging by, it does not really matter if I write English, Norwegian or Italian.

I teach and work with English everyday, but yet Norwegian is greatly dear to my heart and tongue. This blog has developed into a digital tools/education blog, but I hope to increase the posting frequency by allowing myself to post Norwegian scribbles as well in the near future.

The main reason for this is an increasing intellectual, if you can call it that, urge to express and explore different aspects of my own life and what surrounds it. We’ll see how it will turn out. One thing is for sure, Norwegian won’t die just yet here.

I fought the hopeless war for many years. Not until 2001, when I realised I had survived the omnious Y2K and found myself in Tokyo, I bought my first mobile. I cannot say I haven’t looked back since, because I have. Mobiles have been bought with various user experiences. My very first phone was a Japanese KDDI black clamshell phone with color screen and the thrill of receiving my first text is a bit embarrasing today. The vivid memory of a vibrating phone on my desk in that student’s dorm still rings true to a lost soul of modern communication technology.

Sony Ericcson has been my preferred choice of mobiles after returning to Norway and the 21st century. Even though I did not keep a mobile in my expat year in Italy which brought misery to my employer. Enter iPhone last month.

When I first read about the iPhone first generation when it was released in the States I wasn’t truly convinced. I felt skeptical of having my iPod turned into a mobile and having all my stuff in one place. I’m not too forgetful, but I’m skeptical – that’s all. My SE k810i almost had it all, it didn’t take the place of my iPod, but there was no real reason why it couldn’t even though the interface was a bit cumbersome.

Nevertheless, I received my much anticipated iPhone 3G one month ago and now I feel I can review it properly. First of all, it’s a good telephone. Calling works fine. But there are so much more. Rave reviews aside, my disappointments are few and far between and they add to the list already mentioned by others.

Copy-and-paste
Forwarding and sending SMS to more than one recipient
MMS (not a big deal really)
Video (my SE k810i was fabulous at this and I can no longer produce my documentaries)
Battery time (greatly improved with the latest update)
Add telephone numbers from 1881 directly to the Address book.
Play music using Airport wirelessly to my home stereo (very strange…)

That’s about it, and as others have pointed out and which has been proved to some extent with the battery issue, all of the issues can be fixed with an update.

So, what good about it?

App Store and all the apps (Shazam, Evernote, Nearby, 1881 etc.)
Interface and usability
Safari in my hand – fast online experience
Accelerometer
Photo viewer – slick and extremely userfriendly
iPod (especially Cover Flow and Genius playlists)
Drag-and-drop desktop items
GPS – not state of the art, but great for my treks where I live
Mobile Me synchronization – no more trouble syncing mobile/laptop/web

All the different apps are both very useful and fun. The main thing is that it does not feel like a mobile, but rather a pocket browser with mobile and iPod capabilities. I can definitly live with that, and it’s hard to think that I would ever return to a different phone anytime soon.

I have used Twitter for a while, and it’s a neat little net app. Only a few of my friends use it, so it’s a limited social networking device for me personally. It bears resemblance to the status field in Facebook, and what is fascinating is how ‘short is the new loud’. Twitter restricts its answers to the 1000 $ question to 140 characters, 20 less than a conventional SMS.

So the idea is to tell your social network what you are doing, keep updated on what they are doing and do it short. It’s useful for giving links and top-of-the-head whims to your friends in an easy interactive way, either using your mobile or the net.

Nonetheless, the question to be answered reminds me of my mother calling me on the phone and asking me what I’m up to and how my life is going. Of course, she does not have Twitter updates nor Facebook account, but she does swing by my Flickr photostream once in a while.

So why this need to egocast my life ongoings to my friends (and the world in principle) when I find the question rather haunting when posted by my parents? One thing which does ring true though would be if Twitter was around in the eighties – that would have saved my parents the question.


The Norwegian daily Aftenposten writes that the Norwegian school is catching up on the digital revolution. Exemplified by VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) like It’s Learning and Fronter (along with minor platforms (in Norway) such as Moodle, PedIT and Microsoft Learning Gateway) teachers, students and parents alike can keep up to date on assignments, projects, events, grades and feedback. Still, VLEs are mostly common in high schools and middle schools. In elementary schools communication still finds its way home to parents through the students’ backpacks.

When I taught at Horten VGS a couple of years back we used It’s Learning in a very easy and meaningful fashion. Assigments were turned in, corrected and returned within the digital learning environment. Communication with students was supplemented with the digital arena where other information like upcoming tests, teaching material, my lecture notes (available for downloading) as well as attendance records for students were available.

Now I teach at a small private school and we do not use any VLEs, but maybe in the future? I have previously blogged using blog as a teaching tool for the students and the teacher’s communication through Yahoo Groups. We’re still adapting as a team to find the best way to keep up to date on information, and personally I find that Yahoo Groups suffice, but it would be beneficial for our future students and teachers to facilitate a VLE in our working environment.

However, it does not eliminate the need for human interaction in the classroom or staff room of course, but helps with the workflow for students and teachers as well as giving the school a digital fundament for communication in a thriving learning environment.

Last semester I experimented with digital learning tools in my Norwegian lessons and made some interesting discoveries. I set out to spur a greater initiative in the students’ writing abilities and I sought out Blogger for this purpose. As of 2007 Kunnskapsløftet, a recent school reform (one of many in recent decades I might add…), five basic skills are embodied within all subjects. Writing, reading, listening, speaking are all obvious ones, but two new skills for the 21st century have been added: mathematical skills (in all subjects) and digital.

Being able to use digital tools in the Norwegian subject curriculum is necessary to master new text forms and ways of expressing oneself. This opens up new learning arenas and allows new possibilities in teaching reading and writing, as well as the production, composition and editing of texts. In this context it is vital to develop the ability to critically assess and use sources. Using digital tools may support and develop the pupils’ communication and presentation skills.

Kunnskapsløftet, Norwegian curriculum

Most of the students thrived in the blogging environment, or web-publishing. Within a secured and closed network we opened for creative writing in a totally new and interactive way. And it gave me, as a teacher, a genuine access to their writing process and development of their writing skills. And not to forget, the students acquired new digital skills in simple html and blog editing through links and photo publishing.

Enter January and I embarked upon yet a digital challenge. By the means of digital cameras, multi-purpose mobile phones, Macs and PCs alike, iMovie and Movie Maker, Bluetooth and a small amount of paper and scissors the students made their own commercials. What the students ended up making was quite impressive. Through the process they had to learn one of the many unused programs on their shiny Macs like simple iMovie in the iLife suite and also use the curricular knowledge of denotations and connotations in order to explain their train of thought when planning an advertisement campaign.

With the kind permission from two of the students I have posted one of the commercials for Coca Cola Zero.

For Norwegian readers, or any possible readers at all, I’d like to recommend the eminent blog tenketing.net on interaction, peer-powered content, design and technology.