Happy Steve

Innovation and Learning

Start with clarity of intent.

Now build it out with an evocative vision. Improvise progress by tinkering: with lots of trial and lots of error. The not knowing is the best bit: the mysteries the surprises, and from time to time the windfalls! 

Hello there, I'm Steve Collis! 

Click on "contact", won't you, and wave right back at me?

Filtering by Tag: Twitter

Linguistics of Tweeting/Text Messaging

Below is an interesting talk from a well respected professor of linguistics, born in 1941 mind, on text messaging and tweeting.

I watched it on my iPad while washing up lunch today. (The kitchen window and frame act as a natural amplifier for the sound! #hackthesystem)


I'm a bit late to the party with this video. I stumbled on it by chance but have since realised various others in my PLN have been nattering about it.

It struck a particular chord for me because I've recently re-read 'The Brain that Changes Itself', which is compulsory reading, and finishes with a chapter on how external media rewires the mind. I've heard it said that the human brain is perfect for becoming a cyborg. We don't need bits of wires connected to our actual brain cells to become cyborgs. The input/output comes through our hardwired USB hub: hearing, sight, & all the other senses. I find it perfectly accurate to talk about my iPhone as an extension of myself. Most tech is like this. Ever since clothing.

Our brain USB hub is hardwired but the CPU is softwired. The brain adapts to input.

This is why cochlear implants work. It's also why the vision impaired can get vision-input from their tongue.

I can't help but disagree with the professor on one point! He says near the end that 20 years is not long enough for the brain to be rewired. The revolution in neuroplasticity suggests otherwise. 

How has the media changed our brains? Is 20 years of the internet long enough? Or is 2 months long enough? And how are our brains changing? 

Annnnyway here's the video, kk?

Instant-PLN Surprise Gift: the thrilling conclusion!

If you missed the premise:

24 hours ago my Primary teacher colleague Daniel Wearne had just joined Twitter and had 11 followers + 1 tweet. I became obsessed with the idea of surprising him this morning with a 'ready-made PLN'.

A PLN is an online network of colleagues to share with. Normally you grow one slowly, but hey, who says it ALWAYS has to be that way! Everyone loves a surprise present!! Let's gift this great teacher with a ready-made network! 

So I tweeted out the idea to follow him and spread the word!

And I watched as the message was rebroadcast over and over...

...and Daniel had 36 followers

...and then 45

...then 82

Stoking the Fire:

I stoked the fire by direct messaging about 15 particular tweeters, who I either noticed were online at that very moment, or who I knew had lots of followers, especially in the UK (e.g. @tombarrett and @joedale) and the USA (e.g. @gcouros). They all got on board enthusiastically, and there's a lesson there: if you're keen to get a message out, don't be afraid to ask!

I kept at it:


When I went to bed at 11pm there were 160 fellow educators, all around the world, who had put their hands up to listen to his voice.

And I slept.


When I woke I immediately reached for my faithful iPhone on the bedside table.

Another 100 had joined the party overnight.

Dan's wife, Linda Wearne, also a teacher at NBCS (and also worth the follow!), tweeted this:  

Yayy!! He likes his present!!

I drove to work. (Meanwhile another 20 people on the bandwagon!)

I arrived at school.

I went straight up to Daniel! He looked rather shocked:

You can see from his account that he's keen to engage with his new buddies...


A Warm Welcome:

In the last 24 hours he's received well over 90 welcome messages, including plenty of warm welcomes:






 And some wit: 

And some advice too:

I've copied all of the replies at the bottom of this post. Many thanks to everyone!!

Not Too Late To Join The Free Teacher Conference That Never Sleeps

And as I said in my last post, if you're not on Twitter yet, it's not too late.

These warm welcomes to Dan... it's what's waiting for you if you decide you want to get on board.

You won't get a network of 300 followers overnight like Dan, but you don't need to either. I remember very fondly hovering around 30 or 40 for many weeks... it was plenty enough for a rocking great conversation and genuine connection with like-minded teachers.

Join Twitter, and grow your network slowly, like an indoor plant! 

Thanks for joining in everyone!

Appendix (!) Dan's deluge of welcome tweets:

 Starshine Music 
 welcome to it!

 Ian Barbour 
 Welcome to Twitter - There is a pay if forward in there somewhere maybe write a short blog post reflecting on the process?

 Pinelopi Zaka 
 Good point

 Pinelopi Zaka 
 Brilliant! Will be even better with students' mobile devices in there ;-)

 welcome! Your friend has set you up nicely. Don't feel obliged to follow back, find tweeps who are relevant to you.

 Brian Neises 
 Glad you're jumping in! It's the best PD tool in my opinion!

 Dr Narelle Lemon 
Ah and this is why  & others like  inspire RT “: is blown away by the twitterverse”. Have a go

 Jeremy Blackman 
 you swallowed the red pill then? ;)

 Steve Box 
 I marvel at it everyday. Hang on and enjoy the ride!
 Paul R Wood 
 welcome to the twitter verse. Jump in and enjoy. Looking forward to learning from and with you.
 Holli Singer 
 Hi Dan I am a 3rd year education student at Southern Cross University. I look forward to following you. Have a great day :)
 Shane Pilkie 
Follow teacher and new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!
 Lauren Forner 
  welcome Dan :) great to have another great mind to draw on in the twitterverse!
 Dr Narelle Lemon 
 Blows your mind :)
 Ms. Solomon 
  What a great gift for a friend!
 Dr Narelle Lemon 
  Thats for sure :) Been an eventful week for many of us on Twitter this week :)
 Sarah Thorneycroft 
  A little bit of Friday awesome :).
 Ron Houtman 
 Welcome to your insta-PLN. Let us know if you ever need anything.
 Julie Hembree 
 Welcome to Twitter and your growing PLN!
 ¡Bienvenidos a Twitter!
 Kim Yeomans 
RT   You should see  smile :-) (Yay!)
 Linda Wearne 
 You should see  smile :-)
 Dr Narelle Lemon 
Did you wake up this morning w a great following ? Twitter is a great way to connect ideas for . Enjoy :)
 Ana Maria de Samper 
  Glad it worked out so well. Congratulations!!!
 Dr Narelle Lemon 
Public  idea RT “ How would this genre of art work in an educational setting?
 Steve Collis 
TOO MUCH FUN!!! Newbie tweeter  went from 11 to 280 followers - a deliberate surprise PLN-gift. See THANKS!
 David Didau 
 Hi Dan - welcome to Twitter. Looking forward to reading your Tweets
 Darcy Moore 
  What a wonderful surprise to see so many connecting so quickly! Enjoy twitter!
 Anna Bring 
 welcome 2 Twitter. Hope u have fun! Greetings from Norway
 Ana Maria de Samper 
 237 followers!!! Not too shabby!!! Congrats!!
 Paula Naugle 
 Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to Twitter. This is a great place to learn and share with the members of your PLN.
 Viv Hall 
 welcome 2 an amazing e-community.
 Bernd Nurnberger 
  followed  as a welcome. Greetings from Japan.
 Kathy Paiml 
 Happy PLN! Like your blog!
 Steve Collis 
Follow teacher and new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!
 Nancy Blair 
 Welcome to Twitter! To find great edus to follow, see &  to begin learning & sharing.
 Nancy Blair 
RT : Follow teacher & new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See )
 Cary Harrod 
Follow teacher and new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!
 Lidija Kralj 
. Welcome aboard and have inspirational PLN :) Greetings from Croatia (See )
 ☆ Lee Kolbert 
Follow teacher and new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!
 Welcome! Love your bio! Me too! Looking forward to PLN-ing with you!
 V Hathaway 
Follow teacher and new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!
 Ana Maria de Samper 
 Dan, welcome to Twitter from Bogota, Colombia. Happy Thanksgiving!!!
 Devon Alderton 
Fun Christmas music video w baby hipsters. Via 
 Devon Alderton 
Twitter fun! RT : ooo let's make this go viral and he'll get a lovely surprise: follow Primary teacher , new tweeter
 Deon Scanlon 
 Katie Neville 
Welcome to Twitter  I've been teaching for 40 years!
 Rebecca Collett 
 Christine Redman 
Gone from 11>138 “: Follow new teacher tweeter. give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! RTplease
 Ben Jones 
 I support Jello Biafra's call for peelable paint so street art can be hung in gallery's next gen idea paint?
 Ben Jones 
   you'll find street art in many schools some planned some not so...
 Ben Jones 
 welcome to twitter & nice blog too, look forward to sharing more
 Michael Graffin 
 Hi from Perth, Western Australia. I think you're going to be pretty busy this morning ;)
 Nic B 
 Welcome to twitter! Grab a cuppa & enjoy this lil bit of inspiration: 
 Janelle Wilson 
 Welcome to Twitter ! It's a great place to learn from & be inspired by fellow educators.
 Christine Redman 
U2 can“: Follow new teacher tweeter  - give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!”
 Kim Flintoff 
Follow teacher and new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!
 Kim Flintoff 
 Hey - welcome to Twitter... Do I reward studnets for sitting still? Not directly... but there is secondary gain to consider...
 Andrew Williamson 
Follow teacher and new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!
 Andrew Williamson 
 Welcome to twitter!
 Tim Harding 
Hey ! Great to see you on twitter!
 Steve Collis 
UPDATE unsuspecting teacher  has gone from 11 to 91 followers in 2 hrs. It's a secret surprise! Keep them coming! Spread the word!
 Kim Yeomans 
 Would love to see the look on  's face when he opens twitter tomorrow :)
 Welcome to the staffroom where there's a buzz 24 hours a day! Hope you get as much out of it as I do :)
 Nigel Holloway 
 welcome to the best PLN you could hope for! Look forward to sharing / conversing!
 Chris Woldhuis 
": ooo let's make this go viral & he'll get a lovely surprise tomorrow: follow new tweeter, Primary teacher" Go Dan!
 Jo McLeay 
 welcome to the twitterverse. It will be a joy learning with such a great bunch of people
 Summer Charlesworth 
 Jo McLeay 
Follow teacher and new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!
   Excellent idea - welcome, Dan! Looking forward to hearing yr thoughts. :)
 Andrew Blackwell 
 Welcome dude to the educators world
 Suzanne Whitlow 
 Welcome to the world of Twitter educators!
RT : Follow teacher + new tweeter  The idea is 2 giv him big surprise whn he wakes up! (See ) Pls RT
 Chris Betcher 
Follow teacher and new tweeter . The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Please RT!!
 Cathie Howe 
 Welcome to twitter :)
 Paul Gray 
   does that make me one of the cool kids?
 Dr Narelle Lemon 
Welcome teacher + new tweeter  The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See )
 Marie O'Sullivan 
RT : Follow teacher + new tweeter  The idea is to give him big surprise when he wakes up!! () Pls RT
Follow teacher + new tweeter  The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See ) Pls RT
 Summer Charlesworth 
   all the cool kid hang here
 Paul Gray 
  hi and welcome. Great place for learning, this twitter thing.
 Mark Liddell 
RT : ooo let's make this go viral & he'll get a lovely surprise tomorrow: follow new tweeter, Primary teacher 
 A Allmark 
RT : ooo let's make this go viral and he'll get a lovely surprise tomorrow: follow new tweeter, Primary teacher 
 Debbie Pope 
 Welcome to twitter from Mount Annan Christian College. Twitter is a great learning adventure!
 Shani Hartley 
RT : ooo let's make this go viral and he'll get a lovely surprise tomorrow: follow new tweeter, Primary teacher 
 Steve Collis 
So excited by this plan!! Everyone follow , say hi, and retweet! He'll wake up with this wonderful surprise! He SO deserves it!
 Old dog new tricks 
 Hey Dan, Mal Green here ... welcome to the Twitter-verse ... your life has changed forever!
 Meagan Rodda 
  welcome Dan. You'll find twitter invaluable to your teaching!
   morning from a autumnal UK
 hello and welcome to twitter. You will learn a great deal here and connect with many wise, witty & winsome educators.
 Steve Collis 
ooo let's make this go viral and he'll get a lovely surprise tomorrow: follow new tweeter, Primary teacher  PLEASE RT
 Alice Leung 
 welcome  :)
 Jacqueline Woodley 
 another one from your school? wow. welcome you are in good company1
 Steve Collis 
please can you give a warm welcome to my colleague , innovative teacher of younglings at . He is keen to get a PLN happening!
 Basti Hirsch ッ 
 Hearty welcome on twitter from Berlin, dear unbeknowst  teacher !










Help me create a surprise-PLN gift!

You know the excitement of GIVING a present to someone? I got this idea in my head tonight that we could team up to give a Primary teacher a really nice big surprise - a ready-made PLN on Twitter - OVERNIGHT!!!

Daniel Wearne is one of those wonderful souls that drip kindness in every direction. It's like there is a kindness-field that spreads out from him for 5 metres in every direction. I temporarily become a kinder person for a few seconds every time he walks past me! Sometimes I know he's walked past me out of my field of vision, because I suddenly get a kind impulse! ha ha!

Now, he has JUST discovered Twitter, and is champing at the bit about it!

So about an hour ago, I tweeted:

If you read no further, please follow him - www.twitter.com/d_wearne, and say hello to him, and pass word around on Twitter for others follow him too! Ask them to retweet you. Direct them to this blog post by way of explanation.

Tweet something like this: 

Follow teacher and new tweeter @d_wearne. The idea is to give him a big surprise when he wakes up!! (See www.happysteve.com/blog/help-me-create-a-surprise-pln-gift.html)  Please RT!! 

Then, tomorrow morning, it will be like Christmas day when he checks his account! He'll find he has a ready-made cyber-PLN (personal learning network) who he can chat with, share with, collaborate with!

An hour ago Dan had 11 followers. How many will we have tomorrow when he checks Twitter again?

How will it make him feel if he suddenly has 50 colleagues in his PLN? Or 100?

How will that make him feel when he begins tweeting about what he's trying to achieve for his students? 

I know he'll thrive on Twitter. 

He teaches Year 1, and his heart is absolutely set on innovating, adapting, rethinking, tinkering, renovating, to help the younglings in his care engage and learn and flourish. This included a recent total-makeover of the learning space he works in.

And he's really open to new ideas, and to conversation about learning.

Now, we all know it takes time to build a PLN. You CAN'T do it over night. I know that. It takes time to get to know people, and connect properly. Twitter was never about having heaps of followers. 

None of that changes this one core idea: a Primary teacher, genuinely keen to connect, wakes up tomorrow and finds that he is part of a GLOBAL STAFFROOM!

A whole world full of colleagues, happy to welcome him into the conversation!! Spread the word, let's make it happen! 

* * *

POSTSCRIPT: If you're not on Twitter and don't know what a PLN is.

I imagine some readers don't know about Twitter or PLNs! If that's you, don't worry, it's not at all too late, but I do have to inform you that you are missing out on what is simultaneously the best PD process ever, a top quality education conference that is free, fun, and runs 24/7, and on top of all that, a joyous party! PLN stands for 'personal learning network', and it means a network of fellow educators who you can genuinely connect to, exchange ideas with and learn from. Simultaneously they benefit from your thoughts, insights, ideas. Go to Twitter, get an account, and follow @d_wearne, ha ha!! You can start from there and enjoy the journey!

A PLN is a community. It's real people sharing. I can't wait to talk to Dan tomorrow and see the look on his face!

Edward de Bono VS Social Media

I read this article today where Edward de Bono identifies a danger of social media:

"(Social media causes) laziness – that we just feel we’ll just get more information and we don’t need to have ideas ourselves – we’ll get ideas from someone else, we don’t need to look at the data we’ll just see what someone else has said and so on."

My immediate response was: "hang on a tick, Socrates already said that!" because the same discussion comes up in a book I'm reading (listening to, actually) by James Gleick on the history of information, but Socrates is speaking about writing, not social media.

In The Phaedrus. Socrates quotes the god Thamus speaking to the Egyptian god of writing, Theuth:

"you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality." (read more here)

I must confess to giggling, even LOLing at Socrates. He does appear to be describing Facebook, and if Plato had included a 'Like' button I'd be the first to press it.

"they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality."

Heh heh! Fair call, Socrates, fair call.

Now, Socrates' concern about writing seems quite silly 2,381 years later, and is not going to get traction in the media, but de Bono's concern about social media will get plenty of attention.

Why? Because, because, because, us human beings are beset by perils, everywhere we look, but we're most conscious of new ones. De Bono's observation is of a new peril. Socrates' concern is no less valid, but it's an old observation about a well-known technology. 

Of course social media can drown us in information but strip us of wisdom and deep understanding. Well done de Bono. Writing can too - props to you, Socrates. 

When was the last time someone at a party said "You know, I hear a lot about writing, and I've been thinking of taking it up myself, but don't you feel that writing can make us lazy, because, you know, no one has to remember anything anymore, or internalise, you know? The information is just there on the page, ready for any half wit to consume and chalk up to understanding... <sigh> I don't know..."

Or for that matter, any technology, "I'm just not convinced about automobiles. Have you stopped to think how dangerous they are? Also, by travelling further to our work places, I really wonder whether it might dislocate us from our sense of local, village-like community..." Which again is of course quite a valid point.

I get that all the time about social media: It shortens our attention spans, it floods us with noise, it promotes mindless trivia, it distorts our identity with a constant quest for shallow online kudos, it makes us lazy. 

I take such comments as a sign that someone has not sat down and done a full analysis of the technology to point of being comfortable with it. They are clearly still coming at it as an outsider, as a rookie. They're still awkwardly getting a shape for the new thing. I mean if Socrates had joined up for a writing.com account and not left it for Plato I doubt he would have been so touchy about it. Imagine the irony Plato himself felt as he wrote down Socrates' words? De Bono has been plenty a tweeted, too. 

People who criticise Twitter are invariably not on Twitter, or they 'tried it once but got sick of hearing about people enjoying a coffee or buying some new shoes'. That can't possibly be a full analysis of Twitter. If it were, why would anyone be on it?

It's like they stopped half way through a thought and couldn't get any further.

To Socrates, de Bono, and social media worriers, I can only respond: you're better off to dive into the new technology and find wisdom and balance within it, and then share that wisdom with others once you've reached a mature, stable and sophisticated understanding of it.

Otherwise if you have a dig at it as an outsider you just end up sounding like an old codger. Verrrry old. 


ACEC Presentation: Professional Development and the Web

This is my post for a conference presentation at the ACEC conference in Melbourne. If there is a video stream you can watch it here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/technology-in-education-show

Below you will find the 'main bits', an embedded chat system for use during the session, a link to an 'etherpad' where you can add your own links and other insights, and hopefully even a video transmission of the presentation itself.


Explore the links at the bottom of this post, text chat with attendees & virtual attendees.

Leave a comment on this blog post giving your perspective or story, or introducing yourself.

Connect with me! Subscribe to my blog using the link in the right margin, or send me a twitter message to @steve_collis, or come visit my school: http://scil.nsw.edu.au/pd/ Also I am running a free online seminar myself in a few days. Please email me at scollis then the @ sign, then nbcs.nsw.edu.au to get an invite.

Click here and add to the resources contributed by others related to this presentation: etherpad

Get a Twitter account, then go to: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=acec2010 and click on people's names and click "follow" to connect to other ACEC attendees. Send a tweet to them and say "hello, I am at ACEC too!" 

Go to http://edublogs.org/ and start your own blog now!

Go to www.secondlife.com and join up, install Second Life software. enter the virtual world, then go to the educators spaces: Jokaydia or RezEd

The Live Chat System: (sent tweets including the text #acecpd and they will be included)

The Main Bits:


Explanation: http://www.commoncraft.com/Twitter

How to get started: there are heaps of tutorial videos, e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0xbjIE8cPM (google "Twitter Tutorial")

Twitter Etiquette: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/a-brief-and-informal-twitter-etiquette-guide/ and plenty of others (google "Twitter Etiquette")

I recommend using Tweetdeck (download here: http://www.tweetdeck.com/download/)


Explanation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN2I1pWXjXI 

Start a blog by going to:http://edublogs.org/, www.blogger.com, www.wordpress.com, or www.typepad.com - they're all free.

Some Teacher Social Networks:

http://oznzeducators.ning.com/ - especially for Australian and New Zealand teachers

http://www.classroom20.com/ - big worldwide network with a lot of activity!

http://acec2010.ning.com/ - for ACEC attendees (and anyone else too, I think!)

http://rezedhub.ning.com/ - focussing on virtual worlds for learning

http://technolanguages.ning.com/  focussing on language teaching and learning.

Live Webinars:

Past meetings of the OZ/NZ Teachers Network: http://edhouse.wikispaces.com/Meeting+topics

Classroom 2.0 Events: http://live.classroom20.com/archive-and-resources.html

The Educators PLN: http://edupln.ning.com 

Meetings/Communities in 3D Virtual Worlds:

Jokaydia - http://jokaydia.com/ (a community that spans various 3D environments, with lots of Australian teachers)

http://www.rezed.org/ - a thriving international community of educators with regular get togethers in 'Second Life' - scroll down to the bottom of their page for lots of useful links.

To travel to these spaces, log into Second Life and then search for "Jokaydia" and "RezEd" locations and teleport there.