Saturday, April 21, 2012

Twitter and Teacher Professional Development

A while ago I was in an online PD session with a group of educators talking about teacher professional development. I made the comment (which I will still stand by) that the majority of my professional development now comes from Twitter. A fellow educator made the comment in the meeting that there is not much teacher PD that can take place within 140 characters. I realized that this educator may not realize the full potential of Twitter. So let me see if I can clarify my use of Twitter for teacher PD for this educator.

First of all, Twitter will never be an effective personal PD resource if you simply follow all the same people that you work with. Ideas within an organization often tend to be recycled. In fact keeping PD internal to an organization can tend to make ideas and an organization quite insular. Besides... Facebook can be used to keep up with friends and co-workers. So my first piece of advice is to expand who you follow on Twitter to those outside of those people that you know.

The next question is how to find those that you should follow that will provide you with the professional development that you need. It is here that you probably should start looking at applications like TweetDeck and HootSuite. These applications will help you follow hashtags like #elearning, #flippedclassroom or #tinspire. They will also allow you to easily search criteria without hashtags. It is here that a teacher will be presented with a treasure trove of information. This is where an initial investment in time is needed to see who is posting what. There are a lot of tweets that promote products. There are people that tweet to promote themselves. Then there are those companies and people that tweet some really good and useful information. They will also retweet good information from others too. Those are the ones to look for... the ones to follow.

The next issue is how to sort through all the tweets. From a PD perspective, the tweets that contain the best information are the ones that contain hyperlinks. Remember Twitter only allows for a maximum of 140 characters. It is hard to articulate an opinion, present research or an evaluation of a technology in that limited amount of text. However, the tweet will contain a brief indication or introduction of what the hyperlink will contain. This is what allows twitter users to sift through enormous amounts of information quite quickly and get to the things that they are interested in or are meaningful to them.

After a period of time you will accumulate a list of companies, organizations and people that you follow and will willingly provide to you, and daily I might add, more material that you can read. This is where you start storing and organizing this collection. You can do this in a number of ways.
1)Bookmarking sites
2)E-Mail tweets to yourself
3)Bookmark a tweet as a favorite
4)Following Blogs
5)For me I use Twitter on my iPad. I have an app called Read it Later(called Pocket now I believe) where I save or forward the tweets I like when I do not have time to read them. It is a great way to organize PD material.
6)Save PDF's in iBooks. I do this as well.

I follow lots of people, organizations and companies. Some even follow me. The PD that I have been able to avail of has been invaluable. The PD that I have been able to share has been quite significant. So how much teacher PD can you get out of 140 characters. It turns out... quite a bit.

No comments: