One hundred forty characters, times 100 people, times 10 posts per day, and multiplied by the number of pages on the internet (at least 7), equals Unlimited Possibilities for professional development at best and mundane hyperactivity bordering on incoherence at worst. Twitter can be both and neither.
The truth is, on the surface, Twitter sounds pretty lame: update your status over and over and over and over with 140 characters (or less) day after day. Do I really want to know that JRHogan is sitting at the longest red light, ever? Not really. Am I curious if AMorse just finished her second peanut butter and jelly sandwich? No. I don’t care. In fact, I don’t want to know.
A tweetdeck full of such drivel could lead to a violent, systemic social-networking allergic reaction. Quick, someone hit me with an epi-pen and send me outside.
However, after discovering the potential of Twitter as a professional development tool during the ASCD annual conference this year, I’m officially in the first stage of falling in love: enamored high. (I know they’ll be other stages, but for now, ahhh, sweet delight).
Back in the stone ages I took notes with paper and pen during conferences and visited one session at a time. Twitter introduced me to conferencing on Crack. With a simple keyword search I could follow three, four, or five sessions at once, making connections between ideas, themes, and concepts. Plus, professionally minded twitter-ites tended to embed url’s in their posts, which lead to numerous new ancillary avenues to investigate.
Tweeting, when used as such, becomes a professional development exploration-on-steroids, amped with a shot of espresso, and blended together with a frothy mix of succinct wit and valued collaboration. For idea junkies, it quickly becomes addictive.
Here is a small smattering of sites I’ve been introduced to thanks to tweets from twitterers:
- Using Wordle in the classroom
- NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library
- Web 2.0 Write
- Metaphors for Teaching and Learning
- Generational Differences for On-line Activities
- Top 50 iPhone apps for Educators
- World Language Map
- K to 2 Resources
- Techy Tips for Not So Techy Teachers
- The Networked Teacher
- MIT’s International Journal of Learning and Media
- Education — Change.org: Bevy of 21st C. Blogs
- AP Lit Teacher Wiki
- Recognizing the Habits and Attitudes of Great Teachers
- Teacher LED
- Students Against Testing
- Creative Tweeters to Follow
- Kid Economic Glossary
- Twitter Tips for Teachers
- Professional Learning Network Wiki
- 25 Days to Make a Difference
- World Wide Workshop
Thats just a small sample culled from about 4 days in tweet-time, and I only follow about 30 tweet-meisters.
Are all the sites helpful? Heck no. Are some of them? Heck yeah! Is it possible to end up following a dead-end lot of self-absorbed drivel distributors? Sure, if you collect haphazardly. No, if you’re selective.
The bottom line is that Twitter has the potential to open new doors to research, resources, and collaborative relationships, doors that might have otherwise remain hidden behind the mysterious veils of you’re-using-the-wrong-key-words-in-your-google-search or how-could-you-know-it-was-there-if-you-didn’t-know-it-was-there sort of conundrum.
As with any tool, it is one that can be used, misused, or abused depending on the user, but if utilized well it has the potential to be a very powerful — as a search engine, source of ideas, or simply a place to meet and collaborate with other like-minded professionals.
The funny thing is that I find I’m becoming attached to my merry band of tweet-sters. I look forward to the questions, reflections, and suggestions of people I only know by their bite-size bits of beta.
Photo source: Saituri