Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Should Everyone Tweet?

Image courtesy James G. Milles - CC BY 2.0

Just read a great piece from George Couros (@gcouros--and thanks to my Twitterfriend, @ptaylorsjr, for passing this along) about whether everyone should tweet.

Interesting to me, because I've spent the last month or so pushing Twitter as a great PD resource. Now I'm thinking more about this...

Twitter has been a tremendous personal professional development tool for me over the past year or so. I'm very excited about the potential for other teachers to have that same experience--developing their own personal learning network via Twitter. I'm on the agenda for our next department meeting to talk about how I use Twitter and help get interested colleagues started.

But is Twitter for everyone?

In the piece I linked at the top of the post, Couros raises this key point: "[I]nstead of saying to people that, 'My effective use of Twitter makes me a better (teacher, leader, learner, etc.)', maybe I should be asking, 'What makes you a better (teacher, leader, learner)?'" He indicates that Twitter is one such tool for him (I agree!), but also reminds us that we have many other sources of learning within our PLN besides social media sources. I agree with this too--Twitter is just one part of my PLN.

That said, I think that my interactions via Twitter over the past year or so have definitely shaped my thinking about teaching and learning. Some of my preconceived ideas have been challenged and sharpened by Twitterchats. I'm finding all sorts of great resources that are informative to say the least and potentially transformative. Yes, there is a lot of ridiculousness out there. (@SteveMartinToGo keeps things light for me.) But there is also a lot of value.

Does every educator need to tweet? I guess I'm rethinking my initial position on this.

But will using Twitter as part of your PLN make you a better educator? Very possibly.


  1. Great post, Dave!
    As someone who does social media for faculty members and academic societies, I usually advocate that every educator get on Twitter to listen. As you mention, there's a lot of news, tips, and conversations on Twitter that are of value to educators. It's a community. Do you want to be part of and contribute to a global community of educators that's active in real time, 24 hours a day? Seems like an easy answer to me, though I'll admit it's not everyone's preferred speed.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Jim! Sounds like we are of one mind on this. It took me about two years after joining Twitter to figure out how to use it as part of my PLN. Then for about 6 months, I just listened in. But the interactions are the key, in my mind! Of course you can eavesdrop on a conversation and learn, but how much better to raise questions and share your insights in the conversation as well?

    2. I find that everyone has something to say after six months or so. Someone will ask a question, and the user goes "Hey, I know something about that" or more likely, "@X is wrong on the internet!"

      It's like a conference. If you're at a big conference and don't know anyone, it can be tough to get involved, especially if you're not the super-extroverted type. When you hear people talking about your field, maybe you approach them, maybe you don't. The difference with Twitter is that it's a public forum. The fact that it's being discussed there itself constitutes an invitation to join in. This can cause problems, but I think the net result is definitely beneficial.

    3. I love the conference analogy. That's the closest face-to-face example I can think of to how Twitter works. And similarly, it allows you to interact with thought-leaders and colleagues equally. :-)

  2. I am looking forward of having a conversation with educators in Manitoba at the upcoming BYTE Conference this month regarding the power of a PLN/PLC

    I was one of those folks who initially thought Twitter would be a waste of time. With the right tools for me to filter the content, Twitter has become my greatest single source of professional development.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Phil! I think that conference would be a very valuable opportunity for participants. Let us know how it goes, okay?

      I joined Twitter sort of on a whim when I was Tech Coordinator at my last school. (It seemed like the sort of thing I should do as Tech Coordinator.) Boy am I glad I did! Took me a bit to figure out how to use it, but I agree--a powerful resource for personal PD!