I first joined Twitter in October 2012. I didn’t use it much at all other than to post a daily quote from my website. I didn’t engage with anyone. I didn’t see any reason for Twitter. I was too “in love” with Facebook. But over the last year I have begun to not enjoy Facebok as much as I once did. I don’t know why, but I gave Twitter another try in June, 2014. But this time, I somehow found and jumped into a Twitter education hashtag chat. And I have seen my time on Twitter increase and my Facebook time decrease.
There are many advantages to using Twitter: links to resources, normally quick responses from others when you have a question, thought provoking discussions on any number of educational subjects, advice and suggestions for various challenges that arise in the classroom, encouragement when needed, and even accountability if wanted. Additionally, on Twitter you can engage with other educators quicker than you can on Facebook. Your network is larger on Twitter than on Facebook as well.
The disadvantages of Twitter can include: discussions that are shallow or echo chambers (“preaching to the choir”), groups that are circular in their logic, chats that are void of dissenting voices, and explanations that leave out much because of the 140 character limit.
But the disadvantages can be mitigated if you are careful to avoid them and take time in answering questions and posting. I think it’s a good thing to have someone you disagree with politically in your PLN. It can provide balance. It’s also a good thing to have a blog or some other resource to help you expound on things you talked about during a hashtag chat, reflect on the chat, or as a repository for links that you gain from Twitter.
It can be a bit overwhelming at first when you don’t feel like you’re making any connections and you don’t seem to be engaging with others. But that will pass quickly.
Twitter is made up of millions of people who are either using Twitter or not using twitter. There are fake accounts and “dead” accounts. There are people with millions of followers (many of whom are fake or “dead” accounts) or people with single digit followers. In my opinion, it’s not about the quantity of followers or who you are following, it’s about the quality of the relationships you build with those you are following and with those who are following you. It’s about the contribution you make and the accountability to being a good teacher. It’s about being humble enough to admit that you do not know everything about education and that you can learn from those younger or older than yourself and the confidence that you have something to offer to others.
Twitter is one of the best things to happen to education in a long time.