I often feel that Twitter is the most underused and under-appreciated tool in education these days. Twitter has broadened my horizons as an educator, connected me with other educators around the world, and become my go-to resource when I’m looking for ideas or solutions to problems. I don’t know how I taught without it before!
I used to be very ambivalent towards Twitter. I just couldn’t see the appeal in sending and reading 140 character blurbs about what my friends were doing at the moment (Facebook gives me more than enough of that), or mindless celebrity and sports gossip. I had a personal account for a while, but rarely used it. Twitter had no usefulness for me and I blew it off as a waste of my time.
All of that changed in 2009 when I created my professional Twitter account – @geekyteach. I had been attending more and more conferences on edtech, and the buzz about Twitter was getting louder. I soon discovered that Twitter was a goldmine of resources for all types of teachers! I had never before realized that there were ‘backchannels’ flying fast and furious at the conferences I attended, providing even more information and resources than I could ever begin to soak up during one or two sessions.
Very quickly, I discovered the vast network of educators around the globe who shared information and helped each other out on Twitter. It made connecting with other teachers a breeze. At a conference, I would follow the backchannel discussion and follow people who made relevant, interesting tweets. We’d start discussions about something mentioned in a session that would then spill over into face to face meetings over lunch or dinner after the conference. Suddenly, I’d discover that a problem I thought unique to my classroom or experience was shared by others.
Over the past few years, my Twitter network has grown. I avidly watch my feed and hashtag searches for new and exciting ideas to use in my classroom. I share my experiences and problems, and know that I have a huge source of knowledge just a tweet for help away. Twitter has become the ultimate Personal Learning Network for me. I encourage all educators (administration included!) to join the Twitter community and add to its shared knowledge base. If you’re new to Twitter, or just to the educational aspects of it, I highly recommend checking out Cybraryman’s Twitter page for tons of resources.