SJC Professor Participates in 140 Character Conference

May 02, 2010

PATCHOGUE, NY May 3, 2010 Professor Thomas Whitby, English lecturer in the Department of Secondary Education at St. Josephs College, has once again participated in the 140 Characters Conference (#140conf) in New York City on April 21. Mr. Whitby, who represented the College by sitting on the Educators Panel, discussed the role of Twitter in schools and its impact on the education system. He attended a previous #140conf in October 2009, in Los Angeles, California.

The Educators Panel included Mr. Whitby along with three other members: Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in New Jersey; Kyle Pace, an instructional technology specialist in Kansas City, Missouri; and Steven W. Anderson, an educator in South Carolina. In keeping with the brevity of Twitter, the discussion was only 20 minutes, during which time panelists addressed the benefits of incorporating social networking tools into the classroom. Panelists all agreed that embracing Twitter and other social media sites would improve student learning.

"There is a generational gap here, said Mr. Whitby. "Older teachers had a choice to use or not use technology because, when they were growing up, technology was still developing. Kids today dont have that choice. We have to teach them what is going to be relevant for them, and if they are not competent using technology, they are not going to be successful.

The first #140conf was held in New York City in June 2009. Since its launch, conferences have taken place in New York City, Los Angeles, London and Tel Aviv. The original focus of the Conference was to explore the effects of Twitter on celebrity, particularly the media, advertising and politics, but the topics quickly expanded to include sports, music, the arts, sciences and more. Two upcoming Conferences will be held in Washington D.C. on June 17 and Tel Aviv on July 6.

Mr. Whitby began utilizing Twitter in 2008, and he now has a personal following of more than 3,000 educators. He enlisted the help of several other teachers to develop an educator chat group, called #Edchat. Each week, hundreds of educators from around the world participate in two discussions on various topics relating to education. Mr. Whitby has since created a separate website, The Educator's PLN: The Personal Learning Network for Educators, to post useful comments and resources, which has become a source for more than 1,600 educators worldwide. Mr. Whitby requires his SJC students to use Twitter and other various social media sites to connect with other experienced educators.

To view the #140conf educators panel discussion or for more information on The Educators PLN: The Personal Learning Network for Educators, visit