I just recently joined Twitter and am in the process of building my online PLN (Professional Learning Network). Twitter had never really appealed to me before teaching. The 140 character count limit seemed to suggest that nothing important was being said. Now that I am a working professional, I see that the character limit simply makes important discussions more direct and to-the-point. There is no “extra” – just what needs to be said. As someone with a lot on his plate professionally, and an ongoing/constant list of 100 things I should be doing, this brief and succinct form of PD is actually really appreciated.
I was lucky enough to join the discussions in Saskedchat on Thursday night. In one of my tweets from Thursday, I compared myself to Katniss Everdeen as she is about to be launched into the Hunger Games. I went into it knowing that the chat would be a bit overwhelming and that lots of people would be contributing, however, I quickly realized that you just pick and choose what you wish to engage with. It’s a personalized form of PD that reminds me of our school PLCs (Professional Learning Community) where teachers get together once a week to talk about practice, student engagement, literacy, numeracy and basically anything that helps us as individuals become better educators. It’s about engaging in important dialogue that helps you reflect on your practice. The difference is that you can engage with anyone in the world. Just because the character count is limited does not mean that your scope of people to engage with is. Quite the opposite, actually.
For me, Twitter is currently my professional social media platform. This might be because of how public my profile is. Facebook is great for posting pictures of what I did over the weekend or catching up with my grandmother through the chat features. Instagram is great for looking at hundreds of cute dog pictures or sunsets. These accounts are both set to private for me. However, Twitter seems different. It’s more focused and allows you to use it in very specific ways, partly because of the hashtags. I look at it as a professional platform and do not want to remove myself from people who aren’t currently in my inner circle. I want to bring them in and see what they have to offer. The amount of resources and articles that are shared under educational hashtags is perfect for teachers and keeps me from deviating from educational material. I don’t feel distracted or the need to explore other topics just yet, as I’m still consuming the plethora of educational resources.
For your Twitter experience to be successful, however, you must contribute as well as consume. It is a give and take relationship and you must also offer something to others. I think that Twitter is a useful tool for modern classrooms (sharing pictures, posting homework). I am not yet a fan of the chat feature, simply because Facebook and Instagram offer the exact same thing, however, I could see myself using it for professional dialogue only.
As I continue to navigate through ECMP 355 with the University of Regina, I will continue to build my PLN and will hopefully have built something that I can return to when the course is over. For now, my primary reason for engaging with Twitter is simply to explore an online professional world that I previously did not know existed. I look forward to seeing how that evolves as I spend more time on the social media platform. The Hunger Games continue.
For more information about Twitter, check out this page by David Truss.