Increasingly, I am discovering the benefits of Twitter as a professional learning tool: Depending on who I choose to follow and how much time I spend clicking links in my feed, I am exposed to a wide range of personal perspectives and professional articles on a host of topics from assessment to digital learning to educational leadership and Indigenous issues, to equity and well-being in education.
And today, I participated in my first ever Twitter Chat!
As all four of us had varying degrees of familiarity and experience with Twitter, we were also able to support one another’s learning in real time as we navigated this relatively new (to us) professional learning format.
A more seasoned tweeter in our little group suggested the use of "tweet deck", which allows a user to see activity in multiple customizable columns. This meant I could follow the hashtag for the Twitter chat while simultaneously monitoring likes and/or responses to any comments I posted.
As it turned out, the organizers/hosts of this particular Twitter chat appeared also to be new to the genre, and so they did not follow this format, which resulted in some confusion. It was a good reminder for those of us who organize (or who are considering organizing) Twitter chats of how much participants rely on you as a host for setting the tone of the chat in terms of professionalism and organization.
Beginner anxiety aside, I enjoyed participating in this chat, both for the content (I was actually able to draw links to said content in a subsequent meeting this afternoon!), and for the exposure to a new professional learning format.
I was struck with how accessible the forum is, in terms of who can participate, and how much airtime everyone has access to -- one can participate as much or as little as one desires, and the opportunity to engage in more focused “chatter”, based on any participant’s response to a particular question, is made available in a way that does not interfere with the main theme of the chat, which can continue seamlessly regardless of whether some people are still engaged in another sub-conversation or not.
Self directed and differentiated professional learning at its best!
Another thing to consider is the speed with which participants respond. While you are posting your response to any given question, others are, too, and what they say -- should you read it -- may influence your thinking. I felt in constant conflict of wanting to share my responses to a question, while wanting to also read what others had to say. For newcomers to twitter chats, or for slower thinkers, it may be prudent to spend one’s first few chats reading and thinking more than typing!
Overall, I would definitely participate in this sort of professional learning in the future: The pace suited my personal style, and I appreciated that several participants posted links to additional relevant resources for further reading, should I have the time and inclination at a later date. I also expanded my professional learning network, following three new educators in three different countries, and gaining several new followers myself as a result of our interactions over lunch today.
Here’s to my new favourite professional learning format: Twitter chats!