“Educators really can’t afford to NOT be on Twitter. Our educational landscape is changing very rapidly. Our students are using this technology every day, and as educators we must continually be growing and finding new ways to learn and to reach our students. Is Twitter perfect? By no means. But used correctly, Twitter can really become a catalyst in transforming your classroom, your school, and your teaching.”
~ Texas Principal
Having discovered Twitter only recently, I’m a few years behind the curve (6.5, actually). Of course I’ve heard of the tool: who hasn’t? But I’m a recent convert to truly seeing it in action and feeling its power. I’ll draw from my years as a self-proclaimed “Mac Missionary” to paint a comparison.
Several conversations with friends, co-workers, and neighbors start with them asking me, “I need a new computer. I don’t really want a Mac, but can you tell me again why you like them so much?” Seeds are planted. Before long that friend has bought a brand-new MacBook Pro, iPad, iMac, or iPhone. I wait for what I know is bound to follow: the phone calls, emails, or silent exclamations of “Why did I wait so long?” “Do you know this can do…?” “Can you believe this…? and “I will never go back.” They discover something that has greatly enriched their digital life and shout praises to the choir: me. It’s OK, really. I love this stuff.
Back to Twitter. If you have a front row choir seat on this technology, then I give you permission to doze off now. Perhaps no one will notice. Do the rest of you know what a powerful tool Twitter is? Can be? Should be? I am really enjoying my learning curve.
This week’s assignment for EdTech 543 was to follow at least five new hashtags, organize them using a Twitter client (I chose Tweetdeck), and post at least three new ideas or resources I gained in the process. I wish all of my homework were as much fun!
After viewing The 2012 A-Z List Of Educational Twitter Hashtags and a bit of exploration, I chose to follow (at least for now) these hashtags: #edchat, #edtech, #futureofed, #edutopia, #mlearning, #edapp, and #slide2learn. I’m also following several EdTech professionals and groups. We’ll see which ones prove most valuable.
I have been asked to lead a professional development discussion next week on Personal Learning Networks. I will also be giving a beginner and intermediate training on SMART Boards. I have so many new resources at my fingertips I barely know where to begin.
Here are a few great things I’ll immediately draw from:
- PBS Learning Media: a huge repository of “digital-ready” interactives, lesson plans, and resources. Why haven’t I found this before?
- Edutopia’s 50 Educational Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know About: This was a great list, and I found myself clicking around on many new sites I hadn’t seen before. My favorites? Educreations iPad video creation app, MentorMob that helps students organize websites, photos, and videos into a playlist, and Socrative student response system.
- #futureofed live webinar on aligning curriculum standards called, “What Students Should Learn in the 21st Century” and their corresponding website. I’ve been tasked with establishing and implementing grade-level NETS PK-5 standards and this is a wonderful resource.
- Visible Tweets easily and beautifully creates a live Twitter feed to show during a class or workshop.
I’m the first to admit that it’s a big and overwhelming digital world out there. It can drain our time and resources if we let it. The flip side, fortunately, is that it can also save time and increase our resources.
I doubt I’ll use Twitter much on a personal level, but already it has greatly enriched me professionally. Twitter’s own site states, “Whether you tweet 100 times a day or never, you still have access to the voices and information surrounding all that interests you. You can contribute, or just listen in and retrieve up-to-the-second information.” Wherever we may fall on the spectrum, we ought to be on it somewhere.
I’ve learned again this week that until we as individuals or as educators have a reason to use a new tool or technology it will not have an impact. The relative advantage of any such technology needs to be assessed. We need to look at what things are already part of our everyday lives and see if there is a way to apply them educationally in a classroom setting. We can’t afford not to.
P.S. Watch how this college professor uses Twitter brilliantly: