Teaching with Twitter — #EdChat Summary: 3/20/12

Topic: As an educator, what are the best Twitter strategies you have discovered that help you use Twitter as a professional tool?

This week’s conversation sort of boiled down to a love-fest for Twitter, but perhaps it’s good to pay homage to that which makes it all possible once in a while. It’s not like educators wouldn’t have other options if Twitter didn’t exist, but since it does, and since it’s such a good sharing mechanism, why not sing its praises once in a while?

I was slightly disappointed that this didn’t turn into a discussion of how teachers are using Twitter in their classroom with some examples from hands-on experience. But perhaps that’s because not many teachers are actually using it with their students during class time. I did see some folks discussing how to properly use hashtags to allow for discussion on classroom topics after the fact. That’s interesting to me, because it encourages kids to think when they’re not seated in front of someone telling them to do so. And I think that’s something we need to encourage.

Another big topic for today was how we need to get more educators using Twitter and participating in chats like #edchat (or the specific discussion for their discipline). That’s definitely something that has come up more than once in #edchat. Remember that these educators are the 1%. They’re the connected ones; the self-motivated ones. And they need to stop being such a rarity.

Well, if you want to volunteer to be a Twitter missionary to the other educators at your school, I think a good place to start would be the archive of this discussion. I’ve never seen so many excited comments singing the praises of Twitter for education as I did this week. Hopefully that’ll win you some converts.

Main themes from the discussion:

  • Professional development is number one. Of course, the number one thing that everyone said in praise of Twitter was its incredible potential for professional development. That boils down to two elements…
    • Motivation. A good Twitter discussion with another committed educator (possibly from the other side of the planet) is a wonderful motivator. Teaching is a tough and sometimes thankless career, and getting a weekly or daily dose of motivation is very important.
    • Inspiration. If you aren’t getting out to conferences or keeping up with all the latest developments in education and edtech, it can be easy to keep doing things the same way you’ve always been doing them. Twitter is a fast (and sometimes frantic) way of learning about all of them right away. And knowing is half the battle!
  • Most important element is engagement (not just broadcasting). A lot of folks dislike Twitter because they see it as merely a broadcast medium that limits you to 140 characters. It certainly can be. And perhaps most of the time it is. But to really unlock the potential of Twitter, you need to make good use of its engagement potential. You need to participate in chats, use @mentions and #hashtags, and encourage your students to do the same. It’s possible (and remarkably easy) to make some very valuable connections on Twitter. All you have to do is reach out.
  • Following/participating in chats can point you towards great resources. This is something that I have experienced firsthand. I can’t tell you how much my Twitter experience changed (for the better!) once I took the plunge and got involved in #edchat. I’ve met some amazing educators, found some awesome resources, and gotten involved in a cause that I find absolutely fascinating. And it’s not like #edchat is the only chat out there. Find one that fits your niche and throw yourself into it! It can only lead to good things.

My favorite tweets from the discussion:

jlubinsky It goes without saying, but Twitter chats have been an invaluable resource for professional growth.

vpigreenie As professional tool, I find the links alone give me insights, resources and information on education.

RobertBorgersen I have used twitter to get ideas to ENGAGE my students. Engagement is probably the top thing I have learned.

mcfaddenkk Following great educators, trying new things that others share, and participating in twitter chats has changed everything I do in the class.

mattbergholt I have found that Twitter allows me to set up interactions between classrooms and enhance virtual collaboration.

MsDittmar Go to a conference and use Twitter. Admin was amazed at how I was able to gain so much from sessions I wasn’t in!

tomwhitby #Edchat, or any of the chat discussions are great places to discover thoughtful educators to follow on Twitter. Build from there.

DrThomasHo Biggest problem with those who don’t use social media for PD or learning is folks “don’t know what they don’t know.”

CTuckerEnglish Plus- if I’m on twitter & SM then I can teach my students how to get connected to cont. their learning.

Resources shared during the discussion:

daveandcori A-Z Dictionary of Educational Twitter hashtags http://t.co/ohwtPrY0

drdouggreen Check the Social Media in Education archives at http://t.co/DMYqOAZP for ideas on parent workshop.

davidwees Before we can teach teachers to use Twitter, we need to ensure that its purpose is clear. http://t.co/yeOU9tMP

cybraryman1 My teaching with Twitter links: http://t.co/LXq2A1mZ

cybraryman1 My PLN Stars page: http://t.co/uFhdpsfU

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To follow the complete discussion, look for the full archive here.  They’re usually posted up by the end of the week.

Looking to discuss #edtech in depth? Check out the LinkedIn group: Edutech Trends, Visions, Passions.

New to #EdChat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter.  Over 400 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts:

More Edchat

Challenge:

If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.

What do you think? Leave a comment! We would love to hear from you.

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