Well this is Embarrassing

Cross posted at TechLearning

Global education, diversity and multi-cultural appreciation are ideas that I believe are essential for our student's success. I also believe as educators we need to model this for them.  So when I used this tool to see where the folks that I follow reside, it was a little embarrassing.

Twitter friends

A little North American centric ya think? While this tool only allows a sampling of 100 of your followers, (I currently follow about 700) it's likely a pretty reasonable indicator of who's got my attention.  Ewan's concerned about this as well. He blames time zones and short attention spans and he's got a point. Christian Long argues:



And perhaps — no matter how much Friedman and well-intentioned educators may want — the world defaults to hyper-local (scaled accordingly) rather than global when it comes to conversation over time.

While that offers some explanation I can't quite take myself off the hook. Add to the fact that a number of those outside North American are ex-pats I have to hang my head in shame. Clarence Fisher is doing wonderful things to help his students experience a global education all the way from northern Manitoba. He requires his student to have a diverse global network of students to learn with. 

So to appease my guilt and practice what I preach, I need to do some different things. By the end of the year, I'm going to find 50 new followers from outside North America. I may even look for random people as it could improve my creativity. I'm going to find 10 new bloggers from overseas and 5 new flickr contacts.  Okay, maybe there's more to do but that's a start. What about you? Happy with who you're learning with? Feel a need to expand? Have any tips or suggestions? Speak now and leave some great recommendations for new global blogs to follow.

Update: I should add the Jennifer Wagner wrote a very similar post last month which I did read and perhaps by osmosis, I've pretty much covered the same ground. I'd like to say "great minds…" but I'm not in that category. Go read Jen's post too.

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  • I’m worried about #32- are they on a boat?

  • I like that it’s a live map so you can see their actual Twitter IDs.


  • Ed Webb

    The tool is a little hit or miss – it placed Shetland Library (actually in the Shetland Islands, Scotland) somewhere on the eastern seaboard of the US.

    Worth considering also is that global may be a state of mind/connection as much as geographical location. I’m a Brit in the US, on a very internationally-connected campus. I’m in regular touch with Mike Bogle, who is a US citizen working in Australia. Mike would show up on your map as non-North American, and I wouldn’t. Capturing how we are positioned socially etc, though, would probably put us both in that 32 slot off Africa or somewhere, not firmly anchored in any continent.

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  • Debbie

    I think you ought to follow me, North American though I may be.

    I always am looking to expand who I follow. A good friend has called me a brain slut. Perhaps it’s not as important to have geographic diversity, as it is to have knowledge diversity. Or, more precisely, idea diversity. There are so many innovative things going on in the world. I find it really exciting to follow the ideas. That is what takes me places and ignites my imagination. I don’t understand everything, but I appreciate the brilliance. I am more cheerleader than thought leader. I work as a connector or try to.

    When the internet was brand new, I used to do a lot of cold surfing. Just plug in a word plus .com or .org and see where it would take me. I check out a lot of people. Some I follow. Some I don’t. But I read a lot of profiles and catch a lot of conversations. I keep an open mind and an open heart. I experience such joy when I discover people expressing ideas I had never considered before. I love it when I get ideas. I am a tortoiselike explorer and learner. Slow and steady. And then, eureka! I get it. Some things I never quite get an idea except to know that an idea or a concept is important to share with others. And then I am off again to search for people to connect to one another. I don’t get this, but I tend to intuit who will. That is, what, an odd ability or perhaps it’s an odd deficit. “Here. I have no idea what this guy is talking about, but I know you will.” And that excites me.

    You are a brilliant man and academic, but I think you are a bit parochial in terms of who you choose to learn from. And I think that is true of other academics. I may be way off on that, but that has been my impression. Has nothing to do with geography and more to do with being open to others who are outside of academic circles.

    • Debbie,
      Diversity certainly isn’t restricted to geography but the point of this post was to recognized my own geo-centricity. I recognize the need to look outside academia and I do, perhaps a more detailed examination of that might be an upcoming post. Maybe there’s a nice little tool that can analyze my friends based on their professions.

  • Debbie

    Most of us are guilty of that, Dean. I also got that this was, in part, about demonstrating a tool. I don’t find that as interesting as finding out about a person’s life, regardless of location. It’s the writer in me. Or perhaps the historian. Where do they come from? Why did they or their predecessors leave? I am only a second generation American. I know very little about my grandparents, especially on my father’s side. I have a lot of questions that will probably likely go unanswered. It’s not so much about accomplishments as it’s about what caused a person to go a certain direction. How did they end up where they are in life? That is why life stories fascinate me. I am more interested in internals than externals. More so the emotional than the psychological. That is harder to pinpoint. A mind map more so than a geographical one. Random things happen to people which affect many decisions.

    A map based on professions might be very telling. I would guess that my map currently would show a huge grouping of educators, but I have connected with many different people because of social justice issues, that I’d like to see who I follow more of: educators or activists. I look forward to your next post.

  • Debbie

    Final thought. Geography is an artificial construct, at least to some extent. Have you examined a break down by culture? By worldview? That’s a more critical aspect than geography. You may want to ask yourself what takes you out of your comfort zone? That’s a question for all of us in this “room.”

  • Certainly some thoughts worth consideration.

    – I don’t buy the ‘time zone’ argument, even for a minute. There are all kinds of ways to get time-shifted Twitter posts, even if you don’t do anything online outside of office hours.

    – Geographical distribution isn’t everything – there’s a bunch of people I follow who depict themselves as “international” but who are basically based in American schools around the world, and talk only to each other. My major criticism of Global Voices is similar – many of the feeds are Americans living overseas or expatriates living in the U.S., neither of which counts as “global”

    – I do like Debbie’s comment about a map based on professions. I don’t follow people on Twitter. But I have an extensive RSS list, which is well-divided between education, media, ideas, news and science. Even within education, I have taken care to have a good balance of K12, corporate, higher ed, and technology.

    – BTW I would look at Debbie’s blog, if she had one, but she provides no contact information whatsoever – pretty hard to follow without a url

    – I also totally agree with her about cold surfing. I rarely typed URLs at random, but I would visit random Geocities pages, blog posts, etc. Today my cold surfing happens mostly when I’m writing an article – blogging for Huffington has really helped me here because it increases my cold surfing. Blogging without looking stuff up and linking is lazy and leads to closed-group thinking.

    – I make use of the ‘translate into my language’ feature in Google reader to extend my range, but even so, language is a challenge. Looking at my follows geographically, I find them heavily weighted toward the English speaking world. I follow some Spanish and French language blogs but that’s it. This is a barrier I’d like to cross and should attend to.

    – But all of that said, I don’t worry overly about it. “Think globally, act locally.” There’s going to be a regional cluster to my work.

    • Debbie


      I don’t list my blog URLs because I am self-conscious about them. I am intimidated by people in academe, although I came this close to going for a PhD. I am in awe of people who can write academic articles and such because I sweat blood just going for my Master’s.

      My blogs are http://educollab.blogspot.com and http://fumblingaboutinthedark.blogspot.com/ I have a third, also, but it’s been inactive for a very long time. I use it for experimental writing.

      I am also MissShuganah on Twitter. I am Debra S. Gleason. I prefer to think of myself as Debbie, despite being a middle aged woman. I only use the more formal Debra when I mean business. I live in Chicago. If you ever are in O’Hare, I am twenty minutes away.

  • A map of english-speaking people interested in educational technology and reform is centred over north america and europe? hardly surprising. If you spoke a few more languages, the distribution would be a bit more global.

  • Hey Dean,

    I was poking around in Google Analytics yesterday and noticed another interesting trend: The VAST majority of my page views come from North America. While it’s true that visitors from something like 90 countries stopped by my blog, the disparity between North American visitors and visitors from more international destinations was amazing.

    Seems like your geocentric network is a common pattern internationally, too.

    I’m with you, though—and I’m always more likely to follow international Twits than domestic ones. My biggest problem is finding a nice balance in a small number of people to follow. I feel completely disconnected when my network grows simply because I miss posts in my stream.

    Maybe the key is looking through my followers and creating one geographically and professionally balanced Twitter/Tweetdeck list. While it would be only a small sample of the people that I’m following, it would at least be a manageable first step.


  • Tom Fullerton

    Well said Dean
    I’ve made a conscious effort to reach out to educators outside Canada. Our friends in the US actually bring quite a different perspective to educational issues. I guess I’m fortunate that I speak French and a bit of German, so that makes reaching out easier.
    Lately I’ve been enjoying some great conversations with educators in New Zealand, Australia and the UK through twitter, blogs and google groups. I’d suggest that a first step outside Canada might be to the rest of the Commonwealth.

  • Schools today represent students from diverse racial, linguistic, and other cultural backgrounds. Teacher-preparation institutions have the responsibility of providing prospective teachers with the skills necessary to meet the intellectual, social, and personal needs of these diverse learners. This article examines the rationale for a multicultural curricular transformation in Teacher Education programs.


  • Hey Dean,

    Great TED talk on the importance of diversifying our social presence: http://www.ted.com/talks/ethan_zuckerman.html

    Very much connects to your thoughts in this post.

    Its funny, even though I have the tools to very easily create a more diverse social stream, I still elect to follow mostly white american people. Since watching zuckerman’s talk I’ve been inspired to diversify my stream to change this…something I need to keep working on for sure.


  • D’Arcy Norman

    Geographic distance isn’t really a good measure of diversity. I could find lots of intellectual diversity within a few minutes of my house, or I could find likeminded individuals scattered across the farthest corners of the globe. This is a false and misleading measurement of diversity.

  • i agree with Matt… this is so Ethan Zuckerman-ish.
    i love it.

    keep leading man.
    global voices.

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