Thursday, February 23, 2012

Connecting Virtually: Differentiating Twitter

I'm typically private and reserved when interacting with others. That's who I am. I'm always listening keenly and I quietly admire those that stand up speak what's on their mind - no matter the audience. But that's not me and I'm comfortable with that, comfortable with being in my shoes. This article floated through Twitter earlier in the week and caught my attention. I connected with it immediately.  The 21st Century Learning landscape requires collaboration, sharing and discussion. How can these introverts fit into this?

Recently attending the 21st Century Learning Conference at HKIS, I saw many people I follow on Twitter in person for the first time. Some of these Tweeps have known each other through Twitter for quite a while and many consider themselves personal friends. It was quite impressive to see people who really only know each other virtually interact so effortlessly face to face. For me, being more the introvert that I am, the face-to-face part doesn't come so easily. However, reading the Twitter chat at the conference, tweeting my own thoughts and sharing resources that others so graciously shared with me throughout the conference sustained my involvement, challenged my current understandings and allowed me to question my current practice. In short, Twitter kept me in the conversation and engaged me ... and I engaged it.

When asked by some of my colleagues why I bother with Twitter, my response is that it can become what you want it to become. For some, it becomes a personal connection. For me, it has become one of the most valuable resources informing my practice.

Jabiz Raisdana mentioned in a panel discussion about social networking and its impact on learning that he's learned more through Twitter these past few years than he did in Teacher's College. When I think of the cutting and pasting activities I did in Teacher's College that really seemed irrelevant to what I needed to know as a teacher, Jabiz's statement should be considered valid.

Like all best practices in our 21st Century approach to learning and teaching, all students learn differently and the approach we as educators take to engage our students need to reflect this. Twitter is the ultimate tool in differentiating our own professional learning.


  1. Right on! How fitting. I just did a PD session on Twitter at school and people were doubtful at best. I liken it to a party and said you gotta get out there and mingle...which is odd for me, because contrary to what most people think I am a bit of an introvert myself.

    But these tools have allowed be to open up and share and find like minded people who make being social easier.

    I think you are right, that it takes time and exposure. Maybe people will not jump on board after an hour session. We need follow up and patience to get it. Thanks for that.

    On a personal note, it has been a pleasure to have known you first in "real" life and online. Sorry we didn;t get to "hang" more in HK. Next time, let's make sure to set something up...f2f or through Twitter.

    1. Thanks Jabiz, in many ways I thought you nailed Twitter on the head in that panel discussion. It's turned out to be a part of my everyday learning. The way some "Tweeps" like Dana Watts or Robin Treyvaud share amazing resources (and a vast amount of them at that) just exemplifies the collaboration/sharing that should be taking place in our schools everyday. Even better, the sharing goes beyond our school walls and the connections/conversations are happening globally.

      Re: HK - it was a busy weekend and with so many participants it wasn't as easy to have long chats like the ADE; besides, I spent my evenings at home with my family.

      It was great connecting again anyway!

  2. Your post struck a chord with me. I'm pretty shy when meeting new people (though my friends IRL may be surprised to hear me say that!). Twitter has become something of a social lubricant for me.

    Nowadays, when I meet someone I've been corresponding with on Twitter for the first time face-to-face, I'm much more relaxed, much more myself. After all, they aren't strangers to me. I 'know' them, we just haven't met yet.

    I'm glad you're enjoying Twitter as much as I am. The Ed Tech community is pretty spectacular, isn't it?!

    1. Thanks for your comment Keri-Lee. I am indeed loving how Twitter lets us share ideas/resources and how it acts as a support system for my practice. In fact, you yourself have formed part of this system as my grade level explores how to use Minecraft in school and how we can approach our admin for support. The Ed Tech community is indeed spectacular because of its selflessness!

  3. I agree with absolutely EVERYTHING in this post. Like many, I was extremely skeptical about how Twitter could benefit me as an educator. Now I cannot live/work without it. I am not one to speak up in face to face meetings, but am a strong believer in collaboration.

    Even though I didn't attend the conference, I felt 'connected' through reading snippets on Twitter. During Robyn Trevyaud's keynote, someone tweeted this: "50% of children say they find it easier to be themselves online". I can believe that, because it is also true for me. I can definitely see the benefits of using social media in education. I read somewhere the other day that students who interact on Facebook and the like are actually more confident when they come face-to-face with the 'friends' they have.

    Hard to believe how valuable a resource Twitter is given that it was launched less than 6 years ago. I wonder where we will be with regards to technology in education six years from now?!

  4. Thanks Sarah ... I'm clicking my virtual "like" button now!