I still want so badly to get a Nexus 7 for classroom usage.

In a brand-new review published earlier today, Ars Technica calls the Nexus 7 “cheaper than most, better than all” and states that “the new Nexus 7 … is now much faster, feels more sturdy in the hand, shouldn’t suffer from particularly bad performance degradation over time, and has a gorgeous screen that can go toe-to-toe with any tablet from any manufacturer at any price point… the Nexus 7 has once again set the bar for not just small Android tablets, but all small tablets from all ecosystems.”

First of all, Nexus tablets cost just a fraction of what iPads cost. At $229, the Nexus 7 costs $270 less than the most basic iPad and $100 less than the most basic iPad Mini. You can actually buy two Nexus 7s for the price of one iPad– and still have forty bucks to spare.

However, the old Nexus 7 had a mediocre screen and didn’t have a video-out port, and that really killed its potential for classroom use.

That’s changed now. With the new model, you’ve got an absolutely world-class screen for digital reading and grading, internet connectivity, a camera, about nine hours of battery life, the ability to hook the device up to a projector, and the option of using a full-size physical keyboard and mouse via a Bluetooth connection. What more could you want from a personal device for teaching purposes?

My first Twitter chat: #edchat or #edechochamber?

Last Tuesday, I participated in my first Twitter chat—namely, an #edchat. We had a couple of topics:

For the question about “connected educators,” the responses tended to focus on professional development and expanding one’s horizons.

…But there was a bit of joking around, of course!

The participants sang the praises of being “connected” with other educators over social media:

In particular, they extolled the value of their “Personal Learning Networks” (PLNs):

But they acknowledged that these connections don’t always come easily:

And here was some of the advice for selling other teachers on the idea of networking and connecting over social media:

All in all, I’m still not quite sold on Twitter chats. Maybe #edchat was just too general a group for me. The discussion topic also struck me as an exercise in naval-gazing and self-congratulation: “Why are we all so awesome? How can we convince other teachers how awesome we are and get them to approach personal development and networking the same way we do?”

And maybe they’re right—maybe they are all awesome and do have the best methods for making meaningful, productive professional connections with colleagues. But instead of seeing that awesomeness in action, I really only saw an echo chamber full of meta-talk—a bunch of the converted preaching to the other converted.

I still have at least four more chats to participate in. Hopefully #edtechchat and #ellchat will be more practical and productive!

Twitter for Teachers: Quick and Easy PLN

This guest post by Derrick Waddell was previously published in his blog, Teach the Cloud.

Aspiring and current educators frequently ask me how I keep up with the latest in ed tech. I always reply with the same three things: 1) read and write blogs, 2) join and participate in Twitter, and 3) listen to podcasts.

In part one of this three-part series, I told you about my favorite education and technology podcasts. In my second post, I introduced you to some of my favorite ed tech blogs. Now, I want to share my thoughts on Twitter.

Twitter, as you probably know, is a microblogging site that allows you to post updates of 140 characters or fewer. Think Facebook status updates without all of clutter of a Facebook page. Sure, you’ll find no shortage of people who post what they had for lunch or quote song lyrics. Twitter is crowded with idle celebrity gossip and political diatribes. Still, you choose who to follow and who follows you, so it’s easy to avoid the negatives and focus on the positives. Here are my three favorite uses for Twitter.


Twitter is a great place to learn. Since joining Twitter, I’ve found countless sites to improve my classroom instruction. I’ve seen hundreds of resources and blogs that have taught me more than any professional development workshop that I’ve attended over the years. My suggestion is to find a few educators to follow, look at their followers, find some you like, follow them, and repeat until your feed is full of outstanding educational resources. Another good option is to search for hashtags that may give you a list of potential resources to follow. Here is a list of hashtags that may help.


I am a teacher. I love to share my knowledge with others. While my blog gives me an outlet for more in-depth discussions, Twitter is a way to quickly and easily share with other educators, whether it’s my opinion on a topic, a link to a blog post, a new web tool, or a retweet.


Imagine you’re at a conference. You meet a few people in each session you attend and maybe a few over lunch. You exchange ideas and business cards and learn what you can from each other in the space of a few hours. Now imagine that the conference never ends and those few people are thousands. It becomes a continual networking session where you can meet other like-minded professionals and make lasting professional relationships.

Twitter is an amazing tool, but just as a hammer only works when you swing it, Twitter only works when you use it. Jump in and participate. Search hashtags, find people to follow, ask questions, answer questions, learn, and share. If you do, Twitter will become an invaluable tool.

Here are a few resources that will help you get started on your Twitter journey:

An Educator’s Guide to Twitter – Live Binder by Steven Anderson

Twitter 101: Clarifying the Rules for Newbies – Post by Corvida Raven

Seven Posts from Free Technology for Teachers

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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Twitter for Teachers: Quick and Easy PLN by Derrick Waddell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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Diving into the Sky: Professional Development through Twitter Chats

Photo: William Andrus, CC BY 2.0
Photo: William Andrus, CC BY 2.0

For months, I’ve been a light user of Twitter. I set up announcement tweets for my blog posts in advance, but beyond that, I only check in on the site itself maybe once per week. I’ve always found the Twitter experience to be rather… scattered. And cluttered. Compared to the line-by-line anarchy of Twitter, I much prefer the comfortable experience provided by longer-form texts paired with a nested conversation system– the way most newspapers and blogs are set up.

However, I’m making a resolution: through the month of August, I’m going to participate in at least five live chat sessions related to my interests. I’ve already identified three candidates:

  • #edchat: The classic. It happens every Tuesday at 8 PM Eastern / 5 PM Pacific.
  • #edtechchat: A chat for topics in Educational Technology every Monday at 8 PM Eastern / 5 PM Pacific.
  • #ellchat: A chat for topics related to English Language Learners (ELLs) every Monday at 9 PM Eastern / 6 PM Pacific.

I also plan to look into Twitter clients so that I can set up a dedicated window for each chat.

Steven Anderson has a very informative post about Twitter chats in Education. I also found a list of public Google Calendars listing Twitter chats related to education.

Do you participate in any Twitter chats? If so, what have you gotten out of it? And if not, check out that calendar linked above– you might find something relevant to you!