Using Twitter for Professional Development
It’s not just for sharing your dinner!
When I ask fellow educators or colleagues (and I ask this a lot), whether they use Twitter for their own CPD, I am usually met with either blank faces or a torrent of abuse for even considering such a heinous crime. OK, maybe a slight exaggeration there, but lots of people just don’t get it. At the last count, there were an average of 317 million monthly active users on Twitter. That’s a lot of people tweeting what they had for dinner and following their favourite celebrities isn’t it?
Well here is a fact for you. Over 4 million tweets per day are related to education. That’s over 4 MILLION microblogs from other experts in your profession, sharing ideas and inspiration about the thing we love. Education. Teaching. Resources. New ideas. Over 4 million per day. Educators love to share. We can’t help ourselves! So why not use Twitter as a platform to find ideas, resources and even to connect and collaborate with other educators just like you?
If it is lack of confidence with using Twitter itself that is stopping some giving it a try, I absolutely get that. That’s why I wrote a training workshop on it. It’s scary. It’s digital and that can be a barrier for some, but that can be easily solved.
Why use Twitter for your CPD?
I think I benefit from the fact that I can remember the days of working without the internet. The days when we had to go on a training course run by people we had no idea about (no reviews back then either) or read a book (imagine!)
- It is quick: Because of the nature of Twitter, with each post being limited to 140 characters, it’s a quick way of getting your views or ideas published. Tweets are brief and immediate. That’s why so many people use it, but because of this it is very fast moving.
- It is cheap: I can’t think of another alternative that is basically free apart from your internet charges, that gives you access to resources all over the world this quickly.
- It is easily accessible: In this day and age with the advent of smartphones, you can access Twitter from the bus stop, during lunch breaks, anywhere in fact (depending on the wifi signal!)
- It is flexible: If you follow the people that are only relevant to what you want to know, your Twitter feed becomes completely personalised to you. If someone you follow starts sharing things that aren’t relevant to you, unfollow and find someone else that will inspire you.
- It is a great bookmarking tool: By ‘liking (clicking the heart symbol underneath a tweet), you are saving posts that you can return to again and again.
- You get connected: Twitter is a great way of connecting with other people in your field to get industry and sector updates that come straight to you, so you don’t have to search. It’s like having your very own newspaper, or magazine, with all the things you want to know about, that can help you with your own work
Recent research suggests that many educators feel Twitter is a good tool for collaboration.
“Respondents described positive and collaborative professional activity facilitated by Twitter, and many noted how it helped them combat various forms of isolation”. Carpenter, J.P & Krutka, D.G (2014)
There are so many fantastic expert educators out there, willing to share and collaborate. And who knows, maybe you could inspire someone else?
How do you start?
So, start with the basics. Get an account and ‘lurk’. By that I mean just follow a few key people and look at what they post for a while. You don’t have to contribute if you don’t want to. When you feel a bit more confident, start following an educational twitter chat. #UKedchat happens every Thursday at 8pm (GMT) and covers a variety of topics such as classroom behaviour, feedback, pedagogy…the list goes on and on. There are literally hundreds of chats you can watch or join. Here’s a good list I found via @edublogs (See what I did there?).
So basically, it’s all there at your fingertips, you just have to get the confidence to give it a go.