We first became aware of Lisa Nielsen when she was hailed as one of the top eleven edtech experts of 2014 by Common Sense Media. Lisa, who is the director of digital literacy and citizenship at the New York City Department of Education, is known for having her finger on the pulse of innovation.
We checked in with Lisa this fall when she stopped by to chat with Jules about to share tips on getting ideas for your blog, getting Twitter followers, and how powerful learning networks can be.
TT: Why did you initially decide to become a teacher?
LN: I found school boring and irrelevant. That ticked me off so I became a public school educator who works to help change that for others.
TT: How did you move from being a classroom teacher to being a writer?
LN: I didn’t move from being a teacher to a writer. I do both. My first inspiration was Teachers College Writing Workshop from Lucy Calkins. I was a literacy coach. The program teaches teachers and coaches that if we are going to teach writing, we should be writers who publish our work. I took that advice to heart and started writing. I launched my blog in 2008 where I began writing articles that received attention. As a result, various outlets and publishers contacted me to write for them.
TT: How have you gained your following on social media do you think? Top tips?
LN: I never tried to gain a following on social media. What I tried to do is share my voice on topics about which I was passionate. It often takes courage to put in writing what others are also thinking, but may be afraid to say. Everything I article I write has an audience of at least one. This means all my writing has at least one follower and usually there are others who are interested.
TT: Why do you think it is important to grow as a teacher / share your ideas with others?
LN: Sharing your ideas helps you develop and articulate them more clearly. This helps you grow. It’s important to grow so we can serve students, staff, and families as effectively as possible. Sharing also enables you to grow your professional learning network. Learning networks are perhaps the most important resource for educators. It provides thousands of experts who are available anytime, anywhere for mutual support.
TT: Which are the top 3-5 pieces of work you'd like us to share in this blog and why?
LN: I think I’d like to focus on some of my work that addresses fear. Educators and parents often have unsubstantiated fear around the use of technology. I’ve written some pieces to address this fear.
Screentime is an issue I write about often. I want readers to stop focusing on limiting screentime and start focusing on the learning that is taking place “behind the screens.” We don’t limit reading time or writing. Similarly we shouldn’t limit screentime. Here is my latest article on the topic.
2) Social Media
We can’t be surprised when young people are not using social media responsibly if adults don’t guide them in responsible use. Here are ten tips for teens using social media.
3) Cell Phones
There’s been some disturbing studies about how banning cell phones increases student achievement. There are several flaws with the study. First, research shows that 20th century assessments seriously underestimate the abilities of 21st century students. Second, schools in the study view cell phones as weapons of mass destruction rather than embracing them as tools of engagement. When we stop fighting and start incorporating the tools of student’s world into learning, everybody wins. Here is an article I wrote on this topic.
4) My books!
I love writing books about ed tech, learning networks, and also books about DIY/school alternatives. You can check them out here.
Which of Lisa’s ideas many ideas for innovation will you put into practice? Let’s hear from you!
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.