There are few questions that I get from teachers about social media, or sources that I haven’t gotten in some form before over the last three or four years. Two similar questions that I get with frequency are: How do you know all that stuff? And where do you get the time to get all this stuff? My immediate response is that Twitter is my guide to relevant education sources. Those educators who are “unconnected” should know that many “connected educators” consider Twitter an indispensable source for all things education. Twitter if properly connected to thoughtful and collaborative educators is a virtual cornucopia of endless links for: Posts, Videos, Articles, Podcasts, Webinars, Websites, Lessons, Announcements, Original thoughts, Chats, and all else Education that the internet has to offer.
That being said; Where do all those “connected educators” find things to send out on Twitter? Many educators contribute their links to the Twitter Stream based on what they are personally doing within their field of expertise. Some of us are more generalists in education, or we are using Social Media to reform or, as I like to think of it, advance Education. My life in retirement from public education has become one big sharing fest with educators. It has gotten to a point where I am now reading about stuff not to use it personally, but to consider its value in sharing with other educators who may benefit from it. I am forever advancing links and ideas in math, and I have never been able to legitimately balance a check book.
Where does one find the time to locate all of these sources? This is a commonly asked question since lack of time to do anything is always on an educator’s list of shortcomings. In additions to tweets of other educators, I depend on two sources for keeping up with the huge amount of stuff flowing through the internet. One delivers posts to my email and the other delivers to my iPad. Delivery is an important element for me. I have an extensive amount of blogs feeding into Google Reader, but since I don’t open it up that often, I hesitate to open it at all for fear of facing the mountain of unread blogs. Dumb as it sounds, I often open Google Reader up just to mark all the blogs as read (without reading them) so the pile goes away.
The two sources that I count on most for collecting blog posts and delivering them to me in a brief form are SmartBrief and Zite. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but in tandem, I seem to be able to accomplish a great deal in surveying and sharing on the topic of education as it is delivered over the internet.
SmartBrief is a free service that offers a subscription delivered directly to me by email. It curates the very best education blog posts, and newspaper and journal articles dealing with education. It comes in a capsulated form that I can expand if I want to read the entire post. SmartBrief does this for other industries as well, but in the area of Education there are twelve separate SmartBriefs that deal with offerings from specific education organizations. Probably the best known to educators is ASCD SmartBrief. This is a link to all the Education SmartBriefs http://www.smartbrief.com/news/education. Again these are all free subscriptions that can be dropped, hassle-free at any time. The advantage is that it is delivered by email accessed by any device. It also has an iPad app.
My other source strategy is ZITE. I originally started off with Flipboard on my iPad, but after I discovered Zite, I have spent little time on Flipboard. I start the day with Zite and coffee. Like SmartBrief, Zite also provides a capsulated form of posts and articles that can be expanded on demand. Most, but not all articles are easily tweeted out using a tweet icon. The tweets pop up for easy edits before you actually seal the deal with a send button. Zite is a free app that one personalizes to desired topics that are delivered to your Zite site. There is a constant turnover with posts being added hourly. A week seems to be the longest any post will last. The posts are time-stamped by hours/days on Zite.
SmartBrief and Zite are both source providers that get me the latest and greatest in Education to share with others. Being a “connected educator” does give me the ability to take what others are sharing and pass it along to even more educators. Taking what is shared comes with a responsibility to give back as well. How much we give back varies with every individual. In order to maximize any of this, a strategy should be in place. Smart, and convenient sources like SmartBrief and Zite take us a long way into utilizing what little time we have to affect the most amount of positive collaboration.