Personal thoughts on Twitter

February 4, 2009

Personal Thoughts and Reflections on Twitter for Teachers


A great way to engage in collaborative research.  Although I have not done this yet I can envision working with other teachers on a collaborative project to plan out a unit, develop uses for various technology and software, compile websites for a workshop etc.

Sharing of websites and other resources:

After growing my PLN (Personal Learning Network)  I am learning of new websites all the time. It is really especially helpful because other educators share how they use these online resource with their students.  Often times these are ideas that I have not thought of and even lead to other ideas.

Development of community – We are all in this together

Feeling of belonging.  Teaching is hard work.  I often find myself up late at night either grading papers or trying to plan my next lesson.  I have Twitterfox running in Firefox and at 11 at night seeing others share what they are doing – grading assignments, planning a lesson etc makes me feel better some how.

Brainstorming/Asking Questions:

If I am looking for ideas I can simply send out a question and within minutes will usually get a response.  This for me is a huge time saver.  Yes, I know I can go out and Google something but getting responses from real teachers often leads directly to the information I am looking for without having to weed through millions of websites.   TwttrStrm is a good tool for this.

Data collection:

I find that Twitter is a great way to collect data.  I used twtpoll for example to find out how many Document Based Essay questions other social studies teachers give their students in a school year.

Why not just use email?

For me email has become a chore.  I am finding that keeping up with it can be painful.  With Twitter I never have to delete anything and the 140 character limit keeps posts direct and to the point.  Twitter can be overwhelming too but the nice thing is that you can choose to stop following someone if their posts don’t meet your needs.

Why not just use a blog?

Blogging is great but takes time.  Twitter is less formal and it easy easy to blast out a post even in the middle of class without disrupting the flow of the class.  In fact you can even incorporate Twitter into your lesson if you need a quick answer to something.  Most teachers I know (including myself) are usually pulled in 30 different directions, frazzled and strapped for time.  I am not a fast writer – compiling this blog has taken me about an hour and a half. I can zip out a tweet in about 10 seconds.

Follow the experts:

There are people who are at the top of their game:  Bernie Dodge, Mike Wesch, Kathy Schrock who are providing valuable information and insight on a regular basis.


With Twitter I have tons of options of how I want to keep up to date with the people I follow.  I can use the Twitter website, Download a 3rd party application such as Tweetdeck or Twhirl, use a 3rd party web application to sort and group messages.  Currently I like to use PeopleBrowsr for this.  I can choose to send and receive Tweets with my phone and can even get updates through my RSS Reader. I love options!

The down side?:

Information overload.  There is so much great stuff being shared that I can barely keep up.  I admit that at times I get distracted and start reading a post or exploring a new website when I should be grading papers but I think the trade off is that it keeps me informed and it keeps my job “fresh” and exciting as it usually leads to a new idea to try with my students.  It is like informal profesional development.  I wonder if there is a way to document my learnings and explorations so I can get inservice credit through my district?


4 Responses to “Personal thoughts on Twitter”

  1. Beth Still said

    I love reading about people who love Twitter as much as I do! I, too have Twitterfox running on the side at all hours. I enjoy keeping up with what people in my PLN are doing and sharing. I also get distracted with the Twitter stream, but the things I learn are so rewarding.

    One of the most exciting things to see in Twitter is the “rock stars” of the education world interact with regular folks like myself. It is sometimes nice to have a “direct line” to leaders in the educational world!

  2. Angela said

    I so value the people I’m connected to on Twitter. I also find that it helps me in my role as an instructional coach, and I’ve been reflecting on that more and more often lately. Teachers are able to keep in touch with me even when I’m not in their district, and they have immediate access to some of the new things I’m learning and people I’m meeting. I also blog about approaches I use in pd or in the classroom and ask for peer review on Twitter to get added support.

    Information overload is an issue, but I find that if I can at least whip through and favorite tweets each day, I can wait to do bookmarking until later. Using Diigo in combination with Twitter helps me organize new resources, and when I need them, I can return to my bookmarks to revisit.

  3. Nice post, Oswego!

    Twitter has reinvigorated me. Having been active only since just before the Christmas break, I’ve already received more new toys and tricks than I can ever hope to use.

    The other thing I find refreshing is that everybody is so very helpful – from the most experienced to the beginner.

    A final note – and thi blew my mind. Yesterday, I was trying to create a ning for my classes at school. Knowing that @jennyluca (a “rock star” in Beth Still’s beautiful vernacular) has used them in Australia, I tweeted her, never expecting to hear back. Within two minutes, I had three very helpful tips from her that eased my mind. In Twitterland, people care!

  4. Beth Still said

    Still patiently waiting for blog post #4. You are not very good at this blogging thing, are you? I know….I know…. you are too busy.

    In my opinion blogs are all about reflection. I am very curious to know what you think about this topic now eight weeks later after you have experiences working with other teachers online. When you wrote this post you had not done many of the things. A lot of this post was about how you envisioned working with teachers from your PLN. How does what you imagined compare to how it has gone? Is there anything you would change to make it better?

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