Spreading the Ed Tech Word 140 Characters at a Time
T wo years ago, Beth Still was preparing for her new role teaching and developing online
courses for the Nebraska Educational
Virtual Academy when she decided to
“I wanted to join an organization
that offered me a way to keep up
on the latest trends in technology as well as network with like-minded educators,” Still recalls.
Who could have guessed that
a short time later she would
become the consummate ISTE
member, rallying those around
her to embrace educational technology and using her blog to prod
strangers to give new tools a try.
Still is perhaps best known for her
Send a Newbie to NECC campaign.
On April 5, 2009, Still embarked
on a quest to send a fellow teacher to
NECC using her professional learning
network (PLN). It was an experiment
to see if she could harness the power
of Twitter to find enough people willing to cough up $1 or more to send
someone to NECC who had never
“Within a few hours of posting the
details of the project on my blog, it
took off like crazy!” Still says. “It was
being retweeted over and over on
Twitter. Donations started coming in
almost immediately, which was very
surprising. I am not sure how many
people read about the project, but I
am sure it was thousands of people.”
Exactly two weeks after she announced the effort on her blog,
Nebraska Change Agent (bethstill.
edublogs.org), three dozen people
had donated a total of $750, enough
to cover conference registration and
airfare. Still was aiming to raise $1,500
to cover food and lodging as well.
That’s when Voice Thread stepped up
and donated $700.
Still says she learned so much from
NECC 2008 in San Antonio, and she
wanted to make sure others got to experience the wealth of learning at the
Still was thrilled the project was
such a success, but she wasn’t all that
surprised by the power of PLNs. She’s
been a fan of Twitter ever since she returned from NECC in 2008, and she’s
been promoting it ever since.
“I tried for months to get my coworkers to try Twitter,” she says. “They
fought me all year, but finally toward
the end of the year, each one of them
started using it and seeing how it al-
lows knowledge to come to them.
It has been incredibly rewarding
watching them form their own
PLNs as they discover the value
of this amazing tool.”
Twitter is not Still’s only passion. She is also enthusiastic
about online learning.
“I see more and more schools
offering online classes, which will help
students develop skills that can be
useful in all areas of their lives,” Still
says. “Online classes help students
learn how to problem solve, manage
their time wisely, and work collaboratively with their peers. In the future,
as more educators begin to see how
engaged students can be when they
are collaborating with their peers, they
will begin to embrace Web 2.0 tools.”
Still has one foot in the virtual
teaching world and the other in the
traditional-school world. She teaches
social studies half-days at Valley
Alternative Learning Transitioning
School in Nebraska.
She doesn’t think that physical
school buildings will go away any time
soon, but she does see radical changes
ahead in education.
“The idea of where knowledge comes
from and how it is constructed is going
to change dramatically,” she says.