A New Digital Age of Celebration

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Yesterday, I aged another year! Yes, it was my birthday and what made it really special was my personal learning network (PLN)!

Some people may think that choosing to spend time online for a birthday is insane, weird, antisocial, or geeky. They rather disconnect and that’s okay because every person should be allowed to spend a birthday the way they wish. For me, I have enjoyed exploring the ways to celebrate digitally. I moved to Germany 4 years ago and during that time I have been away from family and friends. However, digital technology continues to amaze me in the way it affords me to spend time developing close friendships and relationships and keep in contact with my friends and students across the globe.

Second Life

This is my second year spending my birthday with my online community. Last year I had a great celebration with close friends on Second Life, all who I met face to face later in the year at conferences. We went to a poetry reading that day, exchanged virtual gifts, danced, and enjoyed a Pearl Jam live concert on Second Life. In the past year, I attend edone of their weddings in Istanbul, met another’s newborn baby at a conference in the UK, and spent the summer in Greece with another one. The first time I met each of them face to face felt like I knew them for years because we had spent time together chatting and getting to know about each other.

Ways to Celebrate Digitally

Through technology we can show are appreciation in so many ways. We can send e-cards, share videos, exchange photos, leave a message on social networks, and so much more. This year my PLN created a birthday Wallwisher for me which was incredible. With Wallwisher, friends can leave a 160 character message accompanied by a video, image, or audio. Thanks to everyone who left a birthday message on the Wallwisher, Facebook, or Twitter!

Special thanks to Greta’s (@gret) wonderful 5th graders from Argentina who left me the video message below.

More Ideas

  • Try sending a flash card through Care 2 Cards and support a cause at the same time! This is a free service!
  • Send them a thank you video!
  • Manipulate images so that you create a magazine, newspaper, or other image for them!
  • Create a comic for them with many of the ones listed in David Kapular’s blog.
  • Send them an Animoto music and image video! Thanks to Lisa Dabbs who sent me one of these!
  • Create a talking photo with Blabblerize!
  • Create a slideshow with music, pictures, audio, and more! Larry Ferlazzo has a great list of these on his blog.
  • Send them a birthday audio message with an image through Fotobabble! Thanks to Ana Maria Menezes for this birthday Fotobabble!
  • Send them their own Twitter Parade!
  • Throw a party for them on Second Life!
  • Dedicate a song to them on Twitter or Facebook through Blip FM or on many online radio stations!
  • Make them a birthday Wordle or use another word cloud tool! Thanks to Marisa Constantinides who made me a very cool one that was in the shape of my profile!
  • Find another very creative way to show your appreciation or celebrate with your friends digitally!


Celebrate with someone digitally using one of these tools!

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What has been your most special digital celebration or gift?

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Facebook.com/shellyterrell. Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.


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