I am exceptionally lucky to work with very bright and capable colleagues who are willing to share what they know. Nonetheless, there is still a lot to learn elsewhere and a myriad of ways to do it. All the ed journals talk about growing your Personal Learning Network (PLN) and as a follow up to the NAIS conference, a few teachers in TX put out a webinar for free to teach teachers how to use twitter as a tool to do exactly that. It was a great workshop. I learned a whole lot. For example, you could follow tweets in foreign languages and have it translated instantly. Again, while there is no way to replace face to face interaction, if the online tools are dynamic and useful, one can learn a lot.
I’m fairly new to twitter, and finally got my feet wet to use it as tool to follow the NAIS conference. Social network sites are something I’ve dabbled with a few social network sites, but haven’t always found how they could be useful in my professional life. Besides, not everything about one’s personal life needs to be shared, nor do all the circles of people in my life cross. Myspace was interesting, but it didn’t really stick for me and I’ve long since abandoned it. Facebook is good for sharing photos, keeping an up to date contact list, catching up with old friends and family you haven’t seen in a while, and is not really a professional tool for me. Linked-in is really just a place to share your professional history, there’s some interactivity, but it’s limited. Yammer’s been working well as an in-house way of sharing at our school. Blogging is a nice way to communicate, but following all the blogs you enjoy reading for professional development, let alone the ones you read for pleasure, can sometimes be a daunting task.
Enter Twitter. Where you can ‘follow’ everyone from Bill Gates to Edutopia, or other teachers eager to share resources. You can follow a children’s book author or Daniel Pink. You can even search for tweets or follow certain terms that are of interest to you, like #edtech. Twitter’s been something I’ve been reluctant to get into, but sometimes getting ones feet wet, is all it takes to see its value.
With just 140 characters, you can get through all the people or organizations you follow and only click on the links that interest you, if any. I spend a few minutes on it, click on a few articles I want to read and that’s it. Many of those articles are ones from ed journals that have crowded my inbox, and it’s been nice to unsubscribe and just follow them.
One thing someone mentioned in the webinar is to follow people who have dissenting opinions. People naturally gravitate to like-minded folks, and it’s good to see things from multiple perspectives.
Anyway, I haven’t tweeted much apart from this blog tweeting each post. There’s much to learn and many resources which I’ll look at and share soon. And – I didn’t make up the word in my title.
The webinar was recorded, so if you’re inclined, you can view it here.