Personal Thoughts and Reflections on Twitter for Teachers

Research:

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.

Flexibility:

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?

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December 5, 2008

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