Find the author on Twitter @JessebAdam
Go ahead, answer the question for yourself.
Right now, personally, how do you define or describe Twitter?
Twitter, like any other technology, is whatever you make of it. Since 2013 Twitter has been one of my primary professional development tools. It has been an instructional tool, a wealth of resources, a place for curating strategies and ideas, an avenue for expressing opinions, sharing successes and failures, and the meeting place for deep and impactful conversations.
Twitter, used well, is not just another social media site.
Twitter is who you follow.
If you are concerned that Twitter will be a time sucking bag of gossip, preempt that fear: don’t follow time sucking gossip bags. Your Twitter stream will be filled with the posts from the people you follow. If you want to utilize Twitter to develop as an educator, follow professional educators, journals, and colleagues. Then unfollow the colleagues that are unabashed gossip bags.
- Start local: Colleagues? School? District? College?
- Is your state active? Commissioners? Teacher organizations? State or regional conferences?
- Think educationally: researchers? University programs? National conferences, presenters, leaders? Authors you love? Publishers? Educational technology companies?
- Consider your content! Other teachers? Archives? Museums? Researches? Writers? Mathematicians? Historians? Science groups? Math groups? History groups?
- Think globally: teaching and learning happens around the world… Often it is very different in different places. What could you learn by following someone from Japan? United Kingdom? Australia? Egypt?
Here are a few of my favorites to get started:
Twitter is resource curation.
I have been complimented many times for an idea, a new classroom strategy, or a tip to a colleague and had to redirect the compliment, “Actually, I found that on Twitter.”
Because of the forced brevity of Twitter posts, many posts act as a hook or headline to linked material. Educational journals, blogs, websites, and books are quoted, tweeted, retweeted, and discussed every moment of every day. The latest research, innovative strategies, and new instructional technologies find support and are established globally due to educational communities on Twitter.
Why not have new publications, blog posts, tools, and ideas all sent to the same place? You can review the ones you are interested in, share the ones you think are of valuable, and like those you would like to be able to find later.
Twitter is a professional learning network.
If you have a solid educational community that you follow on Twitter, why not make them your first stop when looking for ideas?
George Couros, author of Innovators Mindset, often posts teachers questions at his professional development sessions on Twitter.
I love it.
The threads (the original tweet and subsequent responses) are some of the best discussions you will see on a topic and create exponentially more learning than if he had simply answered, or, alternatively, not answered because he didn’t know. Twitter should be a great resource for those moments when we aren’t sure how to answer or what to do.
Couros also has said that, “Isolation is now a choice educators make.” We need to collaborate to create the learning experiences that will be best for our students.
My former school district introduced me to Twitter (S/O to @USD443!). Many colleagues were on Twitter and the district began using Twitter to host conversations for PLC’s and PD’s throughout the year.
While it began locally for me, it is now global: I have followers and follow educators across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, and more. These people are researchers, teachers, writers, and professionals who have broadened my understanding of teaching and learning in amazing ways simply through the variety of material they share.
The power of Twitter for dialogue is often found in the hashtag (#). Hashtags are used to link material into a single stream creating a sort of conversation forum. They can be used to:
- Host an hour long Twitter chat about the implications of current cognitive research on teaching and learning (#lrnscichat)
- Facilitate discussions on educational leadership (#EdLeadership, #edpolicy, #EdLead)
- Extend discussions at conferences, in-service sessions, or meetings (#ISTE18)
- Host book discussions (#leadlap, #TLAPchat, #innovatorsmindset, #IMMOOC)
- Curate, manage, and access learning materials, as well as share news and happenings from schools, colleges, or districts (#USD443, #ChacePD)
- Be a forum for change: the state of Kansas has hosted state-wide chats (#ksedchat) and promoted changes coming for teaching in Kansas (#KansasCan, #KStothemoon)
Teach Thought has assembled what I would call a “semi-comprehensive” list of education hashtags on Twitter:
Twitter is a teaching tool.
I have not only found strategies, technologies, sources, and tools on Twitter, but I have used it in the classroom.
If I can have a chat with colleagues on Twitter, why not with my class? I have seen Twitter used in the classroom in a variety of ways:
- Classroom Twitter accounts to provide a glimpse into the classroom for parents, as well as a place to promote student performances
- Summarize key content: explaining a key term, describing a key character, or summarizing the impact of an historical event in 140 characters takes a fair amount of thinking.
- Book chats: many literature, ELA, or reading teachers have used a hashtag for their class or a specific book to facilitate classroom conversations over topics
- Debates: students can debate a hot topic via Twitter chat
- Connect with community members or professionals and invite them into classroom discussions via Twitter
- Live Tweeting field trips, projects, guest speakers, etc.
What if platforms like Twitter revolutionized information sharing the same way as Gutenberg’s printing press? Chris Anderson, of TEDx fame, has termed this Crowd Accelerated Innovation. Digital platforms have revolutionized information sharing and learning – as in the way video has revolutionized the sharing of TED Talks.
Consider the following challenge George Couros often issues to schools:
“What if every teacher tweeted one thing a day that they did in their classroom to a school hashtag, and they took five minutes out of their day to read each other’s tweets? What impact would that have on learning and school culture?”
What if NJC had a culture of teachers sharing and collaborating daily on Twitter with the same hashtag?
What if the Colorado Community College System used a hashtag system-wide to collaborate?
What if CCCS faculty from the same discipline could collaborate across the state with others teaching the same courses?
What if we used twitter as if it were the most powerful professional development tool in history: a global network of educators?
Twitter is what you make it.
If you use it, Twitter can be whatever you make it. A platform for change. A forum for political perspectives. A source of inspiration; where you turn when your mind is spinning in an endless cycle of writers block. It can be for work or play; learning or lazing. Twitter can be an outlet for your students’ creativity, or a distraction from your lecture. A source of spiritual replenishment, or a distraction from the daily malaise.
Or it can be just another social media site you avoid.