Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's Not Twitter, It's People...Why my Sports in Society Class will Skype Interview Jay Bilas

This was the tweet Jay Bilas sent out at about 7:30 last night while I was riding home on the commuter rail from Cambridge, MA to lovely Plymouth, MA.  Jay has been quite outspoken on twitter about the NCAA and college institutions, with their ability to create enormous revenue streams through endorsement deals, sponsors and television contracts, yet the college athlete receives no monetary compensation while essentially providing the labor and talent to draw in the corporate dollars.

I like to tell other teachers that I have the best job in the world.  At the end of the school year I was given the opportunity to become a technology integration specialist...I am far from a specialist.  I enjoy using technology in my classroom and I constantly want to learn about and try new things with my students to make their learning experience relevant, engaging and exciting.  Along with my new role, I still get to teach one class, Sports in American Society.  The course examines social issues through the lens of sports.  We cover topics such as: Social Media, Race, Violence, Drug Abuse, Gener Equity, Economics and Law.

I have sent @messages to Jay before, requesting that he do a Skype interview with my class.  With his consistent involvement on twitter. I thought he would be a perfect fit for our unit on the impact of social media on sports.  We also have a unit on the NCAA that examines the issue of paying amateur student-athletes, another common theme of his tweets.  Here is the message I sent:

However, this time instead of going at it alone and having my one @message request buried in a sea of twitter messages, I asked my PLN and more specifically the unbelievably supportive crew behind #sschat to retweet my request to Jay.

I owe a huge thank you to the following members of my PLN for helping out with my request:

Now, to address the title of the post.  Although Twitter was the platform that allowed me to have access to Jay, twitter had very little to do with why he accepted my request.  It was all about people and relationships that I have been able to build that made this happen.

@Cybraryman1 Jerry has been helping out with #sschat (Social Studies Chat that I created with @Ron_Peck last summer) from its inception and was the first to retweet my request.  

@rmbyrne I taught a workshop with Richard last week for EdTechTeacher.

@Becky_Ellis_ Becky is the single reason why #sschat is still growing.  She has Skyped into a conference presentation I did about PLN development and I will be presenting with her at NCSS in December about #sschat.

@kyteacher I was finally able to meet Angela a few weeks ago when we were both instructing at an EdTechTeacher workshop.  

@ShawnMcCusker Shawn has become an integral part of #sschat and we also collaborated on a Holocaust Responsibility project this year, where out classes (IL & MA) posted to a common project blog and had a Skype discussion for an entire day. 

@Dontworryteach Although I haven't met Jamie yet, she has also become a major part of #sschat and we will be presenting together at NCSS in December. 

If it weren't for these relationships, no one would have retweeted my request and my students wouldn't have a September interview with the best men's basketball analyst on ESPN.  There has been a great deal of talk lately about Google Plus and Twitter, which one will be the platform that educators use to continue to collaborate, share and improve their practice.  Ultimately, it doesn't matter which platform is used.  What truly matters are the relationships and connections that can be created through the platform.  Relationships that are bigger than Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook or any other platform that comes along when those three no longer exist (I know, I know). 

Once again, I would like to thank everyone who helped last night.  When the actual interview takes place I will be sure to capture video and pictures for a follow up post.  Who would have thought I would be able to tweet this last night:


  1. Congrats on the get, Greg. I am sure that Jay will be awesome with your kids. And congrats for your work with #sschat. Having just celebrated a "birthday," I am sure that you are very proud of what you have created. I know that I am happy that you decided to.

  2. Congratulations on landing the interview for your students. I can't wait to see how it goes.