When many of us think of Twitter, @justinbieber may be the first thing that comes to mind, or possibly the role that Twitter played in keeping people engaged and connected during the Arab Spring. We generally don’t think of Twitter in terms of its role in education. By not tapping in to Twitter, however, teachers are missing out on an opportunity to connect with colleagues, local and international educators, education experts and learning networks.
I thought Twitter was just another social media blackhole… I began to see Twitter as an excellent resource for educators and an invaluable tool for professional development – one of the best out there. So, for you teachers wondering about all the hype…I promise, Twitter is worth it (Scavitto 2015).
Twitter has grown from a small niche microblogging site to a news channel, where you can get news from anyone – big or small, unfiltered, directly from the source, and in real-time… A truly useful Web resource for educators. Educators on Twitter share what works for them and discuss everything from education reform to the nitty-gritty of using tech in the classroom (Education World).
At first glance, Twitter doesn’t appear to hold much value. Who cares about Justin Bieber’s haircuts! In fact, we both saw it as a waste and quit using it two or three times until we truly understood the organizational structure of information within this tool. Learning how to filter through tweets, organized using hashtags, will bring clarity and meaning to Twitter and will get you past the mosh pit of random thoughts and lackluster chitchat.(Educational Leadership, 2010)
Twitter has been harnessed by educators and education experts around the world to build networks, stay connected and share resources about every possible topic one could imagine related to education.
Twitter is definitely one of the most popular tools for teachers’ professional development. Education communities are filling the tweeting space #edchat, #edtech #sschat are but some examples. It might be because of its simplicity and ease of use that teachers flock to it , others attribute it to the brevity of its messages. No matter what the reasons are, Twitter has become not only an effective communication platform for teachers and educators from all around the globe, but also an affinity space where these people get to meet each other, talk and discuss current issues in education and most important of all share and learn from each other’s expertise.
The TDSB has a significant presence on Twitter, including many Elementary and Secondary Schools, John Malloy, Peter Singh, Early Years, STEM, Language and Literacy, the Tippett Profesional Library, Speech and Language and most departments, Instructional Leaders and coaches. Edugains, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Child and Youth, and leading experts in the field of education also have an active presence. Twitter is one of the most useful ways to publish, or get access to useful current information on education topics in a timely manner.
For educators who use this tool to build a network of people whose Twitter messages connect to their work, Twitter becomes a constant source of new ideas to explore. Some people have one account as an educator, another for classroom activities, and another as an individual. You have to decide what works best for you – and what works in terms of your school’s policies and your own level of comfort with what you share online (Scavitto 2015).
How schools and teachers use Twitter:
- Allow parents and the community to stay connected to the school by informing them about initiatives, events going on in the school or classroom, and to alert parents instantly to school closures, problems, or emergencies in the school.
- Communicate with students regarding assignments, tests, quizzes, events, goals, expectations etc.
- Share ideas and resources with learning communities in the school, school board or around the world
- Connect with others interested in the same topics, such as STEM, Special Education, Kindergarten, Literacy and Numeracy, Social Studies, Autism, The Arts, Sports, etc
- Get access to professional development, policy changes, new resources, new educational content. Hear from experts who provide links to useful information
Many Section 23 teachers already have Twitter accounts. It would be great if we could establish a broader and more cohesive system to communicate regularly with each other instead of just at staff meetings. If you do not have a Twitter account and would like to get one, just click on the link, enter your email and a password to set up an account and you ‘re ready to get started. For those teachers who are leery about signing on to Twitter, some things that might change your thinking:
- When you sign on, you can use a “handle” instead of your own name. A few teacher handles I’ve come across on Twitter are @1GRTeacher and @8M7 so you can be creative if you don’t want to use your name
- Don’t feel pressured to tweet, retweet or have followers if you don’t want to.
- You don’t need to upload a picture nor include any info about yourself
- If you don’t add any personal info, this is how you will appear.
By just signing on, you can still reap the benefits of Twitter by simply following Section23, organizations, experts or TDSB instructional leaders. Even though the body of the tweet may be brief, most organizations provide links within the tweet to articles or resources. Tweets from those you follow will show up on your timeline and you can choose to read what you are interested in and retweet if you want to.
Creating an account on Twitter is easy, just go to: https://twitter.com/
I’ve created a hashtag, #TDSS23, which I add to tweets and retweets that I feel might be useful for Section 23 staff. If you become actively involved with Twitter, and would like to tweet, retweet and share info with Section 23 colleagues, add the #TDSS23 and tweets will be easy to find in one place when anyone searches that hashtag.
Recommended Article: Teachers: Embrace Twitter for Professional Development
Follow Section 23 Library on Twitter: https://twitter.com/23Library
FOR MORE INFO ON TWITTER FOR EDUCATORS VISIT:
- http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/top-15-educators-on-twitter.shtml twitter.shtml#sthash.H5QUMNqI.dpuf