If you are not interested in reading the long post, I encourage you to jump to the embedded Pinterest board below.
So here it goes…
As an educator that uses Twitter to connect and to engage in conversations for the purpose of learning through meaningful dialogue, I cannot speak more highly of the use of Twitter as a source for professional development.
What is Twitter?
While there are many people that use Twitter as an open source to receive celebrity gossip, viral Internet memes, current traffic information, and developing new stories, there is another side of Twitter as well. “Twitter is an online social networking and micro-blogging service” that allows users to send and receive texts of 140-characters or less (“Twitter”, 2014 & Grosseck, G. et al. 2008). Twitter enables real-time interactions between users to communicate, to ask questions, to receive advice, and to provide advice (Grosseck et al., 2008).
It is through this networking that educators can build their personal learning network (PLN). Through the use of common educational hashtags, such as #ntchat (New Teacher Chat) or #edtech (Educational Technology), educators are able to find a wealth of information at their fingertips. A lurker, someone who consumes the content, is able to find links to websites with lesson plans and ideas to bring to the classroom without having to attend a structured conference, and from the comfort of their home.
As the confidence level of the educational tweeter grows, so does the amount of networking and learning. Slowly over time, as you begin to recognize frequent tweeters which you determine you have commonalities with, you will follow them. You will learn who to go to for ideas and help in educational tech, in Moodle, in math, in science, in the elementary class, in genius hour, in any thing you are interested in.
To help keep you organized, you may wish to create Twitter lists. By creating a list, you are curating a group of Twitter users with similar interests. You can create your own list, such as I have with UBCMET, or you can subscribe to lists created by other users. A list will allow you to view a timeline of all tweets by only users within it.
Much the same as relationships develop when in person; relationships begin to develop online as well. There are many educators that I follow that I would consider to be more than just acquaintances, I would consider to be friends. They support you in your needs for education discussions and help; but you also begin to share your personal lives with them. Making deeper connections and building stronger ties to a global community of educators. These are the people you seek out to meet in person at conferences, to meet for coffees on the weekend.
As my confidence and my teaching experience grew I felt that I was able to contribute to conversations and to Twitter chats with other educators. Educational chats are often held weekly on a variety of topics. With the use of a hashtag, those wanting to participate in the conversation can follow along and participate in the dialogue without having to follow every participant’s Twitter handle. The benefit of being able to join in the conversation without having to follow every participant is that it provides you the opportunity to meet new people. And after the chat has ended you can choose to expand your PLN by following those that you connected with to keep the conversation going.
I have spent the last year engaging in the weekly @bcedchat on Sunday nights. Here I am able to communicate and to learn through conversational dialogue with other educators from British Columbia (and many from out of province and country), using #bcedchat. It is the diversity of educators, which captured my attention. There are multiple viewpoints that are shared and that are mutually respected. Even if a participant does not agree with your thoughts, they are thoughtful and engage in reflection on their own practices as a result of the diversity. I have enjoyed these chats so much, that this fall I have become a co-moderator of #bcedchat.
Benefits of Twitter as Professional Development
The benefit of Twitter as a tool for professional development is that it has no barriers. I am able to learn along side with educators from all levels of teaching, from the elementary school teacher up to the university professor, from all corners of the globe.
“Twitter helps you create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” (Twitter, 2014)
Goldbach, Bernard. (Creator). (2009). Logo of Twitter. [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/topgold/3341034811/
Grosseck, G. & Carmen, H. (2008). Can we use Twitter for educational activities? Retrieved from http://www.cblt.soton.ac.uk/multimedia/PDFsMM09/Can%20we%20use%20twitter%20for%20educational%20activities.pdf
Marsh, D’Alice. (2014, July 22). Twitter as a PLN & Twitter in the class [Pinterest board]. Retrieved from http://www.pinterest.com/dalicemarsh/twitter-as-a-pln-twitter-in-the-class/pins/
Samuelson, Jon. (Photographer). (nd.) Whiteboard of weekly educational twitter chats. [Digital image]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/ipadSammy/status/369248598535307264/photo/1
Twitter. (2014). About Twitter. Retrieved from https://about.twitter.com/
Twitter. (2014, July 25). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter