A librarian once told me that a school’s media center should be the hub of learning in its community.

When I enter a school’s media center today, I see media everywhere, organized by the Dewey Decimal System, or usually a generalized, digital descendant thereof. I see easily-searchable resources and wide-open spaces for exploration. I see unmasked potential for integration, collaboration, and flexible, sustainable longevity.

What I DON’T see? I don’t see learning organized solely by boxes, containers, folders, stacks, grids, drives, codes, logins, or student ID numbers.

#Hashtag180 is a different way to think about how we learn. The Dewey Decimal System of the twenty-first century, #Hashtag180 justifies why twitter is the optimum medium to showcase student learning processes and products.

The archive of student learning has always been there. Whether it be a stack of worksheets in the classroom teacher’s filing cabinet, perfected work samples stuffed in the manila cumulative records file folder year after year, or graded tests that might hang on the fridge or live crumpled in the bottom of a bookbag for at least a week, archiving has its place.

But app-builders and software companies have figured out to profit off of today’s learning spaces. You see, the marketing opportunities aren’t really staked in the archive anymore. The edtech money-maker mechanisms lie in how we share our learning. And kids love to record, be recorded, or have the choice of how to demonstrate their own learning if they don’t want to be on camera. Yet, what most edupreneurs and marketers haven’t totally figured out yet, is how to simultaneously profit from learners telling their learning journey to the world–Over a lifetime. And therein lies the gold.

I’m passionate about archiving and sharing resources for education. For the last five years, I’ve been tweeting examples from learning spaces and real life experiences, and hashtagging them with curriculum objectives. Doing this multiple times a day has been foundational in building my teacher philosophy and portfolio. I have literally memorized the North Carolina K-5 science curriculum, and I can easily see how concepts connect, apply, and extend. That’s so powerful to ME–But for a long time, I’ve also wondered:

Why aren’t our students doing this, too? And why can’t they archive, share, and tell their learning journey through their own student portfolios?

Why Twitter Should Be The Student Portfolio

Twitter is:

  • Free.
  • Real social media.
  • Hashtag-Connecting.
  • Spiderweb learning.
  • Easily transferred grade-to-grade
  • For LIFE.
  • Forever.
  • A digital path for learning PK-Life.
  • A way colleges, employers, and networking partners can evaluate, connect, and grow together.
  • A way to practice digital citizenship–As if it’s a part of real life and real learning.

Twitter Is NOT:

  • Limited to one school.
  • Limited to school campus.
  • Limited to school calendars.
  • Limited to a few grade levels.
  • Limited to subjects.
  • Limited to folders, grids, drives, codes, etc.

We Must Send The Message:

  • Learning can happen anywhere–Not just at school.
  • Learning can happen anytime–Not just at school.
  • Learning can be a fun experience–Not just a required event.
  • Learning can be student-driven–Not just teacher-directed.
  • Learning must be student-owned–Not just teacher-prompted.
  • Learning can be student-instigated–Not just legally-mandated.
  • Learning is actively living life aware of environment and opportunities–Not just partitioned by school walls or confined to rooms or containers of sorts.

How Twitter Should Be The Student Portfolio

Students transform into authentic, lifelong learners when THEY tweet examples from their learning spaces and real life experiences, and hashtag them with curriculum objectives. Doing this multiple times a day will be foundational in building THEIR student portfolio.

Some Advantages To Student Tweeting

  • The more students tweet their learning with hashtagged curriculum objectives, the more transparent learning opportunities in everyday life becomes!
  • When students are constantly returning to their curriculum to match a hashtagged objective to a lesson, they make connections and intentionally lead their learning.
  • Educators facilitate learning opportunities by moderating twitter activity, and providing feedback and comments from life and classroom experiences, as opposed to grades only. Also, educators not only learn exact curriculum, but related activities, too.
  • Both educators and students eventually recognize vertical alignment spiraling through curriculum. What if a seventh grade activity directly builds upon learning in grades 1, 3, and 5? I’ve already seen this happen, but it would be waaay more valuable if students not only have lived it, but could access their own archived experiences to build upon prior knowledge.

Flipping Our Learning Conversations:

  • From: “Look at my (one-time) cool ecosystems project!”
  • TO: “Look at this food chain I found in my backyard or on the school playground!”
  • From: “I did the #HourOfCode for one week at school.”
  • TO: “I just developed a sequence of steps to solve a problem when I baked that cake or got ready for school in the morning!”
  • From: “What I Did Over My Summer Vacation (while at school).”
  • TO: “(while on summer vacation) I felt a sea breeze, saw erosion examples in a sandbox, or felt inertia on a roller-coaster. And I hashtagged the objective to share with my fellow learning community!”
  • From: “What a cool movie!”
  • TO: “I saw and heard so many examples of weather in the movie Frozen! I’m going to share them with class thru hashtags.”
  • From: Striving to apply canned lessons to the “real world.”
  • TO: Living our learning in a 24/7 world, applying everyday resources in life back to required classroom curriculum. Why is learning only going in one direction?
  • From: Competencies or curriculum inspires students.
  • TO: Students and their life/learning experiences inspire and inform curriculum connections.
  • From: Making edtech, vendor, and other publisher products–The process.
  • TO: Making the student learning process–The product.
  • From: Educators traveling the world to go to conferences and vendors.
  • TO: Vendors and businesses coming in to classrooms and learning spaces asking: “How can we design products to better suit student learning needs?”
  • From: Stuffing scripted, learning products into folders.
  • TO: Seeing how learning objectives are embroidered together throughout life.
  • From: Stagnant student portfolios confined by time, space, and products.
  • TO: Open-Ended, timeless, ongoing, universal, personalized, easily-transferrable, connecting learning processes.
  • From: Simply not knowing our curriculum.
  • TO: Seeing learning opportunities in our everyday lives and the real world that highlight our learning.
  • From: Not being intentional in our learning.
  • TO: Celebrating learning, like everyday is a holiday. What if we saw “The Best Lesson” on the nightly news, or the “#TopTenLesson of the Week” on ESPN’s SportCenter?

It Will NEVER Work

I’m blessed to be surrounded by several, brilliant edtech minds. And they’ve already told me a few [hundred] reasons why this will never work. But I’d much rather have THAT conversation than to become complacent, like traffic-jam-minded drivers accepting the status quo. Yet, we are not stuck–We have opportunities to #becomebetter every day.

The Next Steps

  • Twitter creates The Twitter Student Portfolio, with built-in options for: layers of privacy, student-teacher-parent interactions, and feedback/assessement.
  • Curriculum writers will have to compose standards and objectives that are kid-friendly in language, not requiring separate documents to explain expectations for learning.
  • How to make device access at home and school equitable?
  • How to encourage educators to model what’s expected?
  • How to inspire culture to celebrate education?

The Risk

  • In a changing, perfect world, this could happen.
  • In a better world, educators keep coming up with ideas like these to get better for our students.
  • In a failing world, we continue accepting what’s always been done to become what we’ve always been.

It’s Time

It’s time that we start leveraging our resources through the lens of magnifying student learning needs, processes, and successes IN REAL TIME. It’s time we start embracing a different way to think about how we learn.