I finally created a personal Twitter account a few years ago to follow event activities and to try my hand tweeting about Phoenix ComiCom (#PHXCC). It was an interesting experience. Have you ever tried to express yourself in 140 characters or less? I found that I preferred to be a Twitter Lurker, following others on Twitter and occasionally commenting when something caught my eye. I followed a few celebrities and political figures that I liked, as well as some friends, but that was it. I did get into a fun Twitter argument with Adam Baldwin (Jayne from Firefly, John Casey from Chuck). He actually conceded the win to me. That was a proud day in my Twitter history.
I never though Twitter could really be something useful, especially in education. But that has since changed.
There are several areas that make Twitter an attractive and useful EdTech tool. It is great for your own PLN (Professional Learning Network). It can be used in the classroom to discuss current events. (It is a historical record.) And Twitter can be used to assess a student's understanding of material. Who knew Twitter could be useful?
EdTech advocates are jumping on board the Twitter train for their own edification. The new buzzword in PD is PLN. It means developing your own network of education professionals to collaborate with, learn from, and share resources. Blogs, like mine, are popping up all over. Other teachers who are passionate about EdTech are sharing their knowledge and experience. That is one type of PLN resource, and I love them. But blogs are static. There is rarely any discussion on the blog, just one person's experiences. In today's fast past society, we want lots of information and resources, in one place, in small bites, and with input from others. That is were Twitter comes in. Educators now have the opportunity to participate in weekly Twitter "chats" about education. These are moderated events with a set time, topic, and hashtag.
I was curious, so on Wednesday April 23, I participated in my first Twitter chat. It was quite the experience. I started trying to participate on my phone, but I can't swype fast enough. So I opened Twitter on my computer, but found that the hashtag search wasn't finding ALL of the related Tweets. I finally had my phone and my computer opened at the same time, and that seemed to work best (I have since found that TweetDeck is the BEST way to follow these events!) The conversation was fast paced, invigorating, and full of great ideas. It took me a bit to get the hang of how to properly participate, but soon I was heavily involved in the discussion, retweeting, favoriting, and replying to other educators. It was an interesting hour. A couple of things I learned:
- ALWAYS use the # for your current Tweet chat. I was in the #EdTechBridge chat. I forgot my # a couple of times, and my comments were lost to the rest of the participants.
- When a question is asked by the moderator, they will start it with Q1, Q2, etc. When you respond, don't respond Q1. Respond with A1, A2, etc.
- Even when you go off on a side discussion with a colleague, still use the #, because others actually are interested in what you are saying.