Over the last few years many people have become disgusted and disenchanted with the platform of Twitter. I agree that it can be an echo chamber for those who like to hear their own voice. However, I also know that it can be an effective Professional Learning tool. I have created an entire Professional Learning Network on Twitter because of the people that I chose to follow and I am diligent about blocking people who are spreading unworthy tweets. My Twitter account posts nothing personal. It is about my own professional learning. With Twitter colleagues challenge my thinking regularly. Questions that I have for my educational colleagues are answered immediately and without judgment. Global connections are made easily and then I use these connections to learn with my students.
Let me give you a few examples of how I’ve used Twitter in the classroom. One of my students brought in a rock with a fossil on it from his backyard. We took a photo and tweeted it out to find out if anyone could tell us what it was and the approximate age. Within an hour we heard back from a scientist at the ROM. He had an answer for us and was happy to help. In fact, he told us that corresponding on social media at the ROM as a scientist IS his job! One of the students brought in a mushroom from the woods near their house. We tweeted out to our PLN because they wanted to know whether or not it was edible. We were answered immediately and there were many links to other sites for information that sent us on a further journey into the wonderful world of fungi. Consequently, the advice from our Twitter contact was to never eat anything you find in the woods unless you are a scientist. In music, we were learning the words to a song by the Alternate Routes band and the students asked to tweet the band. They tweeted us back thanking us for the support and encouraging us to keep singing. We found some great classes across Canada to Skype with through Twitter and did mystery number finds with other grade 1 and 2 classes. You get out of Twitter what you are willing to put into it.
I have gotten more out of 15 minute Twitter education chats than I have out of some day long workshops. The educators on Twitter chats are there by choice and they are passionate about education. The questions are specific and the answers are in 140 characters. The best part is, you don’t even have to comment if you don’t feel comfortable. You can just sit back and learn. I have also met these Tweeters in person at IT conferences and taken their workshops. Knowing the presenters ahead of time and having a connection is like going to a concert when you already know the newest album really well; it makes the experience richer and deeper.
Here are a few EDUTweeters that I suggest you follow to get started:
Here are a few #hashtags to follow