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#Pencilchat - 10,000 Tweets and counting

When my friend John posted some tweets using pencils as an allegory for educational technology, he didn't expect the #pencilchat hashtag he used to go viral. He's suggested some reasons why the topic went viral, and he's probably right. The one addition to his list that occured to me is that the idea of critiquing some of the arguments against educational technology is timely, given many teachers' current struggles with the use of technology in their classrooms.

There are reasonable arguments against the use of technology in schools, or at least in being critical about our use. Unfortunately, these are not the arguments people use to attack the use of technology in schools.

#Pencilchat highlights the issues educators face in their use of technology. If you want to see what these issues are for yourself, you can download this archive of 10,000 of the tweets (which unfortunately, include some spam from when the discussion was trending) from the viral discussion.

It could make an interesting research project to go through the tweets and find all of the various arguments people outline for and against the use of educational technology. While some of the tweets are quite funny, and there's a fair bit of repetition, there are also some insights into issues facing schools today.

About David

David is a Formative Assessment Specialist for Mathematics at New Visions for Public Schools in NYC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver before moving back to the United States. He has his Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC, and is the co-author of a mathematics textbook. He has been published in ISTE's Leading and Learning, Educational Technology Solutions, The Software Developers Journal, The Bangkok Post and Edutopia. He blogs with the Cooperative Catalyst, and is the Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia. He has also helped organize the first Edcamp in Canada, and TEDxKIDS@BC.


Mr. Wees,
I am currently taking Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. For one of the assignments I, along with my classmates, had to read John Spencer's post, Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home. Sadly, many of my classmates did not catch on that Mr. Spencer was not literally talking about pencils; it was a metaphor for technology. I believe that many people are just not ready to see technology in that light. Pencils are something we are comfortable with; technology is scary to those who have not used much of it. I hope this changes soon.
I thought Mr. Spencer's post was such an interesting post though. I had no clue that it had caused such tag, #pencilchat, on Twitter!
Thanks for the other links to look at!

-Kathleen Wilhelm

David Wees's picture

People sometimes miss subtle metaphors. It happens, and I've done it myself (many times). Your reasoning about people being comfortable with pencils is interesting. I hadn't thought that could be a reason that people would get confused over the analogy, but you are probably right.

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