Thursday, December 9, 2010

Professional Learning and Twitter

I recently was reading the December issue on Educational Leadership, December 2010 | Volume 68 | Number 4 
  (Pages 74-93 ) on "What Makes a Great Teacher?".  In this article the authors describe several characteristics of a great teacher.  One quality listed that resonated most with me was the willingness to grow and be reflective.  However, it is this important quality that often gets put on the "back burner" when teachers are busy accomplishing the multitude of task they need to ensure their day is running smoothly.  When faced with the question of whether I should finish marking student reports or read an informative and thought provoking educational blog, most would finish the reports because it is more utilitarian.  How can busy educators grow professionally, stay connected and learn with little time?  My answer came in the form of Twitter.  Although I am a newbie to Twitter, with only a few weeks of usage.  I have learnt more in these few weeks than I have through several years of school professional development.  What makes Twitter so effective as a Professional learning tool?

1.  140 characters-  twitter only allows you to type in 140 characters, which enables people to be concise regarding what they need to say or share.  If someone wants to dig deeper into the topic, most tweets offer a link to an article, blog or video.
2.  Choice- you can follow and search for different "topic/chats" (ex. Elementary Chat, Science Chat, Social Studies Chat)  and you can follow people who tweet based on similar interests all around the world or even local.
3.  Synchronous and Asynchronous Functionality-  twitter can can as an instant tool for immediate discussion or you can post a problem or question and end up checking the result later.
4.  A large Scope of Topics-  Twitter is a smorgasbord of topics whether it be related to education or something else.  You can use the hashtag symbol followed by the topic "#topic" (ex. #elementary, #science, #caned, #assessment) to find people tweeting about and sharing information.

Here is a screen cast on  my experiences using twitter:

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