Thursday, April 16, 2015

Twitter: I Think I Figured It Out

Back in the spring of 2009, I was serving as Technology Coordinator for a K-8 private school. That job was daunting, and required me to wear several different hats:
  • I taught "Computers" as a subject for grades 5-8. Keyboarding skills, digital citizenship, research skills, word processing, spreadsheets, multimedia tools, and general computer literacy were all included as parts of the curriculum.
  • I was "the guy" for any and all tech support. I used to say, "If it plugs in, it's my problem." And that is sort of the way it day I came to work and someone had left a boombox on my desk with a note: "This CD player doesn't work." So...yeah...
  • I was supposed to be a sort of technology integration coach for my colleagues. I think this part was probably the aspect I was most passionate about, but also the part I was least likely to be able to do, with the first two on my plate. But this meant I tried to become familiar with as many different technologies as I could, so when people came asking questions, I would have answers.
It was in this way that I first joined Twitter in the spring of 2009; I had heard of Twitter before that, and I had read an article in Wired magazine (yep, I'm that geek...) about the way people were connecting with Twitter. And I had a few friends on Facebook who were talking about how much they liked Twitter.

So I joined up.

It's funny reading those first tweets. Like this one, that showed up in my Timehop today:

If you read this blog with any degree of regularity, you will know the value I place on Twitter as an essential part of my personal learning network (PLN). But it took me awhile...

It took me a while to start connecting with other educators, but once I found a couple to follow, that got me more invested in learning through Twitter.

It took me a while to start using hashtags, but once I learned that dozens (or hundreds!) of teachers connect and have discussions--chats--on Twitter, and that hashtags organize these conversations, that got me more invested in interacting through Twitter.

It took me a while to start sharing things myself on Twitter--I first mostly lurked and enjoyed what other people were sharing, learning from them--but once I learned that people responded with thanks to the things I tweeted and retweeted, that got me more invested in pushing my ideas through Twitter.

I think I figured out how to make Twitter work for me, as a tool for my own learning.

I am finding that different teacher-tweeters actually use Twitter in very different ways.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of capturing ideas and resources.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of collaborating other educational professionals.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of connecting with others they would never have the opportunity to reach otherwise.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of pushing back against the groupthink of current school culture, whether at a local, state, national, or international level.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of promoting themselves.
  • Some use Twitter as a way of sharing ideas and resources they are personally passionate about.
If I'm honest, I have used Twitter in all of these ways over the past six years.

If you are an educator not on Twitter and reading this--because it was shared with you via email or Facebook or printed out and left on the staffroom table--I encourage you to just dip your toe in the water at least.

Join Twitter, and approach it with a growth mindset. Find a colleague who is on Twitter and learn from her/him. Follow a few interesting educators. Eavesdrop on a chat (follow the hashtag), and don't be afraid to get in there with a tweet or two of your own.

You never know who you might be able to learn from, and what you might be able to learn!

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