It has been just over a year since I have been actively engaged in utilizing Twitter as a professional development tool. In talking to other school administrators and teachers, it is apparent that there are still many misconceptions about Twitter and what it can offer educators. Obviously, there have been many posts dedicated to the benefits of social media in education, but I have decided to add my two cents. Here are 5 reasons I value Twitter as a personal learning tool:
- Connections: we all know that education, teaching in particular, can be an isolated profession. It shouldn’t be that way. Twitter is an exceptional way to build a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and make connections to other educators all over the world.
- Personalization: by selecting individuals to follow, your PLN can be highly personalized to specific areas–i.e. school administration, science teaching, special education, math teaching, educational technology, etc. This allows you to monitor a constant stream of information that is tailored to your interests.
- Immediacy: there is not a faster way to receive news and information than Twitter. Professional organizations and media outlets have increasingly begun to rely on Twitter as a tool for disseminating information. By following these groups, you can gain access to important news in the education field (as well as others), as it happens.
- Information: I have done more professional reading in the past year than at any point in my career. Much of this is due to the links, book and blog references passed along in the Twitter stream. Twitter also enhances individual efficiency–acting as a filter (based on individualization) for the vast amounts of information generated on a daily basis.
- Reflection: interactions with my PLN keep me in a near constant state of reflection. Frequently, tweets cause me to question some of my current practices and serve to validate others. As we know, frequent reflection is an absolutely critical component of school improvement and innovation. Twitter interactions foster this type of reflection and conversation–healthy for educators at any level.
Bottom line: if you are not currently on Twitter, I would encourage you to create an account and get started. If you need help, just attach the hashtag #edchat to your first tweet and ask–I guarantee you will receive a positive response. Tweet on!