Just under a year ago, I finally decided to jump on board the Twitter train. It was not inspired by anyone or as a direct result of a great PD session but more to do with that fact that I wanted to develop an online education version of myself and not log onto great new resources, tools, etc…with my Facebook account. No inspiring story here. In fact, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Twitter was in my mind, a place for Ashton Kutcher to find one million people interested in his intellectual banter and for people to share 140 characters of dribble. Don’t get me wrong, there still is plenty of that on Twitter but I am writing here how to say loud and proudly that I am a Twiddict.
Twitter is the driving force behind my personal learning network and it has changed my life as a learner forever. Before joining Twitter last year, I negotiated to use my PD allocation to take a day off a week during Term 3 to spend with my daughter. Although I gave up those PD hours, my learning didn’t falter a step. Spending hours with the best learner on the planet (a toddler) plus the 24/7 professional development that Twitter offers meant that my learning last year was off the charts. I created, conversed, collaborated and shared using Twitter and cannot imagine my learning without it. I had the best learning year in a long time…until this year that is!
Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. I’m still waiting for Sir Ken Robinson to follow me, I may have followed people in the hope that they would follow me as I was sitting on 99 followers and I have found out that people always have funny pictures of me that they want to share. But that aside, Twitter has allowed me to dupe conference organisers into thinking that I have paid for and am attending one session when in fact I am at all of them or that the conference goes for two days when in fact it began three weeks before and is still going strong three weeks after. It has allowed me to forget first names and to only know Twitter handles. It has allowed me to attend great conferences from the comfort of my own home in my pink snuggie. It has sparked a love affair with #hashtags and feeds. It has been my go to for all resources, tools, ideas, research and advice and it continues to evolve. The letter combination “TW” used to be for Twilight Twi-hards but know it is for Tweets, Tweeps, Twitteracy and Tweachers.
My Twitter use has evolved greatly as well. I used to spend ages trying to fit 200 characters of thought into 140 characters of space but now know that less is more and that my contribution is only the beginning or continuation of a great conversation. If I am stuck on something, I need only to send out a tweet and answers/ideas/suggestions come from all over the world. I now check my Twitter account in the morning before I check my work email. In my mind, beginning the day inspired as a learner is the best way to begin a day as a teacher. I am connected to learners all over the world and feel that this network is only going to get richer as I reach out and connect more.
My challenges as a Twitter user also need to be shared. When the river is so rich and vibrant, the call to connect can also be strong and loud. Learning to shut down and be in the moment has been something that I have had to work on. Dealing with the avalanche of the information and feeling inspired and not overwhelmed has also been a hurdle that I have had to overcome. As the Cool Cat – Vicky Davis says, it is all about having the right filters in place when it comes to dealing with the amount of information out there. Thank you Hootsuite for that one!
To finish off, I thought I might pay homage by saying thanks…in 140 characters of course!!!
@twitter Thank you for continuing to ignite a spark in me as a #learner. Thanks for the connections, collaboration and thinking you inspire