The State of Now in Education #140conf

My personal mantra comes from Miguel De Cervantes’ novel, Don Quixote of La Mancha, when the protagonist reflects, “maddest of all- to see life as it is and not as it should be.” Like the quirky protagonist, Twitterers are often misunderstood, because of their passion for this social medium. This past week, I participated in the 140 Character Conference with several passionate Twitterers who were also passionate about their fields. Jeff Pulver did an incredible job of choosing people not necessarily based on their follower count, but who were passionate! Aparna Vishnet, Tom Whitby, Steven Anderson, Eric Sheninger, and I represented education. My fellow panelists and I are passionate about Twitter and you’ll see us tweet daily, however, we are more passionate about education. Like Don Quixote, we see education as it should be and work towards this goal.

What Should Education Be?

A quality education should be available to all.

I have worked with homeless children, at risk students, immigrants, alternative students, and those with learning disabilities to find schools that lack paint on the wall, air condition, basic supplies, training for teachers, new textbooks, and technology. While doing research for my Masters, I became depressed at the statistics of how many of these students have slipped through the system. For decades, education policy has failed to have any significant impact on decreasing the wide achievement gap that exists. The cycle of poverty prevails, because students are not provided an equal education.

How Do We Revolutionize the System?

Don Quixote had two characteristics every stakeholder in education should have, vision and passion. The speakers at the conference who made the most impact were passionate about Twitter and had a vision of what Twitter does to enhance their fields. The beauty of Twitter is that this is a medium in which passionate people in an area, such as education, are able to collaborate together. Passionate people are contagious. They spread their vision and energy to others who become inflamed as well!

Vision for Education

Through my years working in various low-income school districts the prevalent problem was the lack of passion. Educators are growing weary, because educational policy tries to punish them. This is where Twitter comes into play. The theme for the conference was the State of Now.

My vision for education is to see educators collaborate with each other over dire problems, mentor each other, provide professional development for each other, and to spread the passion so the weary become strong. On Twitter and other social media I have realized this is not visionary, but actually the state of now. Daily, I see educators:

  • sharing resources on Twitter and other forums
  • deliberating solutions to problems in their schools through Nings, LinkedIn, and Twitter
  • collaborating on global projects through Nings, wikis, Voicethread, and blogs
  • providing professional development to each other either through Skyping, Second Life, blogs, and video tutorials

I felt fortunate to have spoken alongside, such passionate and visionary people and will be highlighting the differences they have made in their communities in future posts. At the conference.

A special thanks goes to Aparna of Parentella who had the vision and passion to propose and organize the educational panel.

A special thanks goes to Jeff Pulver who is the organizer of the 140 Conference and a passionate individual of how social media transforms the world. Thank you, Jeff Pulver, for allowing us to share how Twitter continues to transform education!

Thank you for voting for Steven Anderson to receive a NOW award. Your vote made the difference. This was an incredible achievement to have an educator win one of these prestigious awards! Thank you for your supportive tweets, participating in Edchat discussions, interacting with us on Twitter, being part of the EduPLN ning, and for spreading your passion to your schools.

Please enjoy this video of some of my favorite 140 Conference moments!

Enjoy this video of our panel discussion by Beth Still:

Twitter & Education – #140conf LA from RealPlayer SP on Vimeo.

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


  1. Hi Shelly!

    Thanks for sharing your views on education and sections from the conference.
    What I’ve noticed since I started this Twitter experience is that there are situations that are universal, that go beyond a country’s borders. I enjoy your comparison of educators to Don Quixote. I’m convinced that to be able to educate successfully you need passion for doing so, among other qualities. I believe that education is what brings about equality among human beings and in a world where values are missing it’s in our hands, as educators, to c0nvince our students that education is a powerful force that will shape their personality and help them achieve their goals in life.
    As “Imagine” by John Lennon says:

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Regards from Argentina,

    • Lovely post about passion and commitment to quality education, Shell.

      Join the dreamers’ club, nay, brigade, of people who take positive steps to bring about educational change in places big and small!

    • Marisa,

      I find it amazing to be able to have constant conversations with an educator as passionate as you and you are in Argentina. Thank you for sharing the lyrics. I think people might cast us as idealists, but as you pointed out educators should have a passion for educating. We have an immediate and lasting impact on the future and if we aren’t passionate about what we teach and about learning, then can we really expect students to be?

      I will join you Marisa in your passion!

  2. Amazing indeed. Quality education should be given to all and sundry and no one should be left behind. Administration should take care of all. Teachers should strive hard to impart quality education. You have worked with under privileged students without any facilities and tried your best to provide them education, is really an achievement on your part.

    It should be the duty of all teachers to have a vision and passion like the character Don Quixote and i am very happy that you have that.

    Thanks for your vision and passion.

    • Sudam,

      From reading your blog I know you have that vision as well for India. I find it amazing to meet passionate educators from all over the world. It makes me happy to know educators everywhere are passionate!

    • activ_educator,

      I believe a teacher’s mood and behavior have serious impacts on students like you mentioned. If a teacher thinks the material is boring and treats it like a task, then students will too! However, if a teacher is passionate then the students will at least be curious to why.

  3. Hi Sheely,
    great vision here. I’m with you . It’s true democracy in education in the making and what is great is it’s driven by teachers. I’ve been thinking/blogging about Education and where it is going too!

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