I've never twittered and don't plan to start but in the last few days I have read the blogs of several 'famous' edubloggers that said they are done with Twitter. What are the rest of you twits thinking of the 'next best thing'?
the "thing" I love at the moment is Evernote...
I can add a note to myself in evernote on my mobile phone, iPod Touch, Macbook, PC, or even a random computer at school, and when I hit the sync button, it doesn't matter where or what I sent it from it will be there in front of me straight away, regardless of which computer I am using.
and Coveritlive - where I often live blog conferences, keynotes and other events
I do tweet, although I go through fits and starts depending on what I am doing.... when researching stuff I will add posts to share with colleagues around the world, or if I have a question, or if at a conference where I know there will be other twitterers so we can catch up.... the great thing about twitter is you don't have to be "on" all the time.... you take what you need, when you need it.
My 13 year old son set up a twitter account recently, not to randomly blurt inane teen guff (although there is some of that, and I do love reading his tweets) but to stay informed with some sites he is involved with. Easier to jump on twitter to see what news is happening than to go to all of the sites.
Twitter to me is good for two things: 1) A diary of sorts I hope will be there to remind me I was watching the tribe with nephew Kyle, visiting Gettysburg, BBQing chicken for a wedding in Kilgore;
2) A way to keep current with my sister and one good friend both of whom live in other cities.
Twitter like all tools are only useful if they work for you but I can't help but feel that giving it a chance might change some points of view. If you follow a personal learning network of educators you will find it does have merit. By the way I use evernote too and one of the ways I use it is to note ideas and new tools that surface on twitter. I also use twitter to get real time information about conferences that are being ustreamed or recorded.
I do not spend all day on twitter, I visit it in the early morning and sometimes in the evening- and somedays not at all- BUT everytime I log in I find useful information and a conversation worth joining.
The fascinating thing I find about Twitter is the "Blank Canvas" effect it has on people (I'm sure most of you teachers have run into this at some point in your classroom).
Imagine you're an art teacher. You bring in 50 lbs of clay, qtips, paint, glitter, sticks and pipe cleaners. As class starts, you give your the instructions to "Make something amazing, unique and useful with everything I provided."
What are most of your students going to do? Make something amazing, unique and useful? Probably not. Most will look at your cross eyed, not do anything, or complain that they don't get what they should be doing. A couple though might take on the challenge and try to make sense of the assignment. And maybe one actually accomplishes it.
This is similar to what Twitter is. It's a cyber art project where no one is given a lot of structure. You are simply asked "What are you doing now?" and given 140 characters to explain it.
Like the hypothetical classroom, most people have a hard time figuring out what to do and how it's useful (myself included).
So why was it created in the first place?
The creators of Twitter intended to foster ambient intimacy . The idea: If I follow people I care about on twitter, I always know what they are up to even if I don't see them for a while. So if we happen to run into each other at the grocery store, we already have something to talk about. A conversation that would normally start "What have you been up to" is now "I saw that your daughter just had a baby. How is the new family?"
And like most blank canvases, the more people that use it, the more uses you are going to get out of it. A few examples.
-People use it to tell the world "what they are doing."
-Self promotion (I have a blog, a website or something to sell).
-Broadcast useful information (I know a lot about something, and I will share what I know with others)
-Businesses use it to monitor what is being said about their company (like Comcast)
- A reminder list (Thanks Kev)
- To find out information on anything (see what hashtags are or use Twitter's advanced search engine).
So how can educators and students use it?
There have been some great suggestions already (following conferences, following experts in fields of interest, reminder lists). But something tells me there are plenty of other uses. We just need to find them.
Could you students use it for help with homework? How do I solve a problem using the Pythagorean Theorem?
Could they (or you) use it to help research new topics in a unit?
Could they (or you) use it to get new ideas on subjects?
For those of you who have the time, I would simply suggest to use it (or keep using it). Start with some of the suggestions above. Come up with a problem and try to solve it with Twitter. If you can't you can't. If you can, for the love of Pete, tell everyone.
Indeed...Ambient intimacy...use two I described above.
But then, I don't get the concept of Personal Learning Networks anyway. Maybe I just didn't read the introductory treatise.
My "Personal Learning NetworK" this past two weeks included:
- Last night's Frontline "Obama's War" and Nova's "Hubble's Amazing Rescue"
- A live brief Tues by General Petraeus
- Circulating through a conference meeting dozens of people
- Several radio broadcasts
- A daily does of policy from the WSJ
- Diane Ravitch and Deb Meier's weekly thoughts, plus their readers'
- A feed of several Rails/Ruby developer forums
- A feed of trail&greenway builders
- The Newshour
- Two old fashioned things by my bed -- books they called them. "Hope and Despair in the American City" and "People of the Book"
- What serves for a pub here, where I stay in tough with community news
- The local paper
- The nearest city paper
- Long War Journal
- The Education Gadfly blog and podcast
- A book on CD in my car.
- A local festival
- Hundreds of email messages, many addressed to me personally.
So where in the day am I to fit the spontaneous 128char half-thoughts of some wonk tossing frisbee to his dog and thinking on pedagogy?
Tell me--I'm trying to be open to something I might be missing. I just feel that one could realistically only use twitter to learn if they restrict their field of interest to some incredibly narrow domain, say Ed Tech or something?
Well for what it is worth, yes I restrict most of my twitter follows to education professionals. I read journals online , I go to meetings and conferences, I do other kinds of things outside of my professional educational field...
I learned to love twitter by first using it at a large tech conference 4 years ago..It helped me to know what was happening there and to meet people I knew from blogs or other virtual contact but had not met in person.
Yesterday I needed a form for students who are bringing their own laptop to school..so I asked on twitter..one short message out to hundreds of educators at once .. and I found what I needed. I also just enjoy talking with educators around the globe.
Twitter is not a necessary tool....it just works for me..... at this time in this place...it is a quick easy way for me to stay connected
When it comes to tech integration we can only master so many things and you have to stick with what works for you.
I remember when I first heard about using twitter to 'back channel' during conference presentations or classroom lectures. I was appalled. I could believe that people didn't think that was horribly rude. After presention for 8 years at the national and state level I think I would have quit if I'd had to deal with texting and twittering while I was presenting (or teaching a class for that matter). Oh well, I'm old. N.
Ok I get where you are coming from...
But let me give it a different spin..
What if your presentation really got me thinking, got me excited and I could see connections and others added to that thinking , clarifying what you were saying, making new and important points,...and I could benefit from their insights as well...plus have a record of what we heard and understood from your presentation..
...not so much...haha! Of course I'm one of the people that think that txting is going to rot the brain of today's youth. There are enough distractions in the classroom and presentation hall as it is without adding more inane chatter. I guess I'd think that jotting yourself a note would be enough!! I'm *smiling*.
Another use of Twitter "back channel" during a conference is broadcasting key points to followers not in attendance. I have on several occasions enjoyed summaries of presentations which I could not attend.