Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's all the HYPE about the Twitterverse?

I have been FaceBooking for several years, so I understand the whole social network phenomenon. I keep track of many personal and some professional contacts there. I upload pictures of things going on in my world. I even played some of the games associated with Facebook. But TWITTER? Isn't that for famous people, rock stars, and pro athletes? I mean, I just felt like I had no use for anything Twitter in my cyber space. I was not "that person." I could not see the benefit of adding another social network to my already busy schedule. Okay, so I suppose I should just openly admit it; It took me a WHOLE YEAR to finally do the "twitter thing" after I was introduced to it as a professional development tool. I guess I'm a slow learner <sigh>.

In the summer of 2012, during the CUE Rock Star Tech Camp-Central Coast, I reluctantly created an account. I used it during the 3 day camp and that was pretty much all for a couple of weeks. Some of the people I followed from Day 1 are very active, but I was still not sold. I didn't like the "Hashtag" thing- it's a pound sign or number sign for goodness' sake! I thought 140 characters was very restrictive- I want to say things in a bigger way. I also wasn't impressed by the pace of the chats I witnessed. It was either way too fast with too many people talking or way to slow. I had moderated for an AOL tutoring chat room and Science Q/A site for several years that seemed more complete and understandable. I didn't like the idea that I could not see the entire conversation unless I was specifically searching the blasted hashtag. None of my face to face colleagues were using Twitter, so I just couldn't see the need.

So I only used the network off and on until I attended my Fellowship at the Siemens/Discovery STEM Institute at the end of the summer. I had made several professional contacts with the other fellows that week.  As a way to help us get to know one another, Discovery made trading cards and posters of our Twitter account profile page and it showed mine with only 11 followers and 15 tweets. <redfaced with shame>. From their posters, I could see that most of the other 50 teachers were far more active on Twitter. I would check my account from time to time, but I still didn't recognize the power of Twitter until several months ago.

Whenever I looked at my Twitter account after that, I read the posts of some of the people I admire professionally (Will Kimbley, Jen Roberts, Hall Davidson, Alice Keeler, Jon Corippo, Ramsey Musallum, Jon Bergmann). I opened some of their links to blogs and articles that seemed interesting. I sometimes added a person who made comments on my favorite people. I generally felt like I had nothing to contribute. I was lurking and observing some of those CUE contacts early last spring (2013), when I noticed them tweeting about a chat that sounded interesting. So the next Sunday night, I checked out #caedchat. This is where my big conversion took place!

Once I learned how to "follow" the chat and the protocols for answering the questions that were being discussed, I really got involved and the hour just flew by. So many great ideas were flying on my screen that night. I bookmarked several great web sites and articles to read. My professional learning network had just gotten much bigger.  That was it! I WAS HOOKED! I finally saw the need in my practice for the Twitterverse!

After that first experience, I have regularly connected with that same chat and got wind of several others that have rocked my world. I found that people who participated in the Twitter discussions for professional purposes were polite, supportive, knowledgeable and positive. The moderators of some of the chats usually create an archive of the discussion and post it to one of their websites, so if it goes too fast or if I miss the chat altogether, I can review what happened. To make it seem more real, you can even send direct messages through Twitter or you can meet with your tweeps. When I went to the CUE 2013 Conference in Palm Springs, I was able to meet several of the people that I follow face to face. There was even a #caedchat "meet up" at a nearby hotel lounge on one of the afternoons during the conference. What a cool bunch of folks!

After a whole year of having a Twitter account, I finally set up a way to read my Twitterfeed in an organized way (using TweetDeck). I have been avidly connecting with and following more and more people in our profession. I attend and participate in several weekly chats. I have been involved in a book study and a couple of virtual conferences. I got to learn about Google Hangouts because I got involved with a chat about Google tools. Several months ago, I watched with baited breath with many of my friends when Google announced the next group of  Google Teacher Academy candidates going to Chicago. I am eagerly awaiting the next opportunity for the next Google Teacher Academy. A couple of months ago, I found out about a UC Curriculum Integration Institute through one of my friends on Twitter. I applied along with my friend and colleague and we were accepted as course developers for a d - level science and engineering course for our school. That's a big deal!

I have included hashtags for some of the best twitter chats that I have participated in below in the post script. I realize that there are fewer hours in my day than the possible chats in which I would like to participate.

PS: My favorite Twitter chats include
#caedchat (Sunday 8 PM Pacific Time)
#tlap (Monday 6 PM Pacific Time)
#flipclass (Tuesday 4 PM Pacific Time)
#profchat (Tuesday 5 PM Pacific Time)
#satchatwc (Saturday 7:30 AM Pacific Time)

Check out this Google Doc with a schedule of MANY Twitter chats organized by day of the week. This list was compiled by @thomascmurray & @cevans5095  with continuous help from @cybraryman1

Twitter Chat List

Summer professional development has always been one of my major goals. Last summer, 2013, my learning was completely under the influence of the Twitterverse. When school started again in August, I had many new resources and applications that I can use in my teaching. I even created a different twitter handle in which I have been tweeting out pictures of class activities and news  from my classroom. I have lots of students, school organizations and parents who follow me there (@mrskdiver)

Even if you are not a big fan of Social Media in general, Twitter has a great place in the professional lives of teachers (and probably many other career pathways). I have found some of my voice as an educator and as a colleague through this powerful medium. The collective resources of my Twitter PLN is so vast, I can hardly begin scratch the surface.

I suggest you give it a real attempt. Look in on a chat or search a book you have been reading to see if others are tweeting about it. Best of all- look up people in the eduverse whom you admire, follow them and see what they are talking about. You may find that you have something to learn and something to share. See you in the #twitterverse @kathleendiver

1 comment:

  1. This was a well done post! If I had read this a while back, I wouldn't have been so reluctant in the beginning. I had those SAME thoughts!! I thought it was just another facebook and I have no use for my account there (I visit it about twice a year). I too have been stalking as a beginner, but enjoy the myriad of ideas I have gotten from others blogs or posts. As someone posted on twitter: I don't have time NOT to be on twitter. I could never think of all the cool ideas that I glean from others, nor have time to research the vast internet universe to find them. Twitter has expanded my professional world so wide, it is indescribable!