Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Twitter Journey So Far: Using Twitter as a Personal Educational Resource

Like many of you I started hearing buzz about Twitter this year. Everyone was on it. The local news station. The radio station. Technology gurus. Celebrities. But I didn't see any use for Twitter for me, an ed tech specialist with nothing to sell or promote. I signed on in April of 2009, but didn't do much with it.  I thought it was a mini-Facebook, with people constantly updating what they were doing, no matter how mundane. I really didn't need that much information about people I know, let alone strangers. I was getting that info from the people I wanted on Facebook already. The little I did explore led me to view Twitter pretty much like this.

Then, a couple of things happened. A friend of mine started getting into social media and using Twitter in the tourism and to a small extent the personal realm, and I heard her mention it once or twice. So, I followed her on Twitter. Interesting, but still not my thing, I didn't think. I logged on once a month, if that.

Next I attended a TCEA workshop on 21st Century learners in June. And they encouraged us to use Twitter to share brief thoughts on what we were learning that day. Then my previously mentioned friend sent me a link to a blog post on educational uses of Twitter. (And we made a bet about "if you'll try Twitter, I'll try this...." I won't out her on what she had to try, but it's innocent and fun!)

And before I knew it, I was hooked! The main way I am using Twitter is to find edtech resources. Organizations I trust, like TCEA and ISTE tweet (that's a Twitter post) resources all the time. And sometimes they RT (re-tweet or re-post; kind of like a quote) someone else's Twitter posts. So I started seeing who other good edtech resources were based on re-tweets and learning how to do Twitter searches for other edtech posters and followed them.

Eventually I got brave and did a couple of RTs. I even found resources independently and posted them. It's pretty exciting when someone re-tweets you for the first means they found value in your resource. I'm a sucker for positive feedback and reinforcement!!!! I've even gained a few followers, which is fun and reinforcing as well.

So Twitter has become part of my toolkit for furthering my knowledge of my profession and sharing resources I find to be valuable. I'm tracking some folks who work with Moodle like Mary Cooch and Moodlerific as that is an initiative our district is just starting. I also looked for ed tech gurus I already knew about like Wes Fryer, David Warlick, and Miguel Guhlin. And I've discovered more ed tech leaders I personally hadn't heard of like David Ligon and John Evans. The people I also highly value are the folks who are classroom teachers and on-site K-12 practitioners of teaching and technology integration. There are too many to list and I wouldn't want to leave anyone out. They pass along the practical things that I know can be immediately useful to my colleagues.

And, just so I'm not all work and no play, I did stumble over a celeb I like to follow, becuase he posts pretty authentic stuff. You might recgonize Nathan Fillion from Firefly or Castle.

My latest Twitterventure has been experimenting with a couple of third party solutions for making Twitter more manageable. I am trying TweetDeck and HootSuite. You can see evidence of my HootSuite experiment in the right-hand column of this blog, where I've embedded code to track my latest Twitter posts as well as posts mentioning me.

I'll close this post with a list of websites that have been helpful for me in figuring out how Twitter works when I have questions. (As an aside, I found most, if not all, of these sites via posts on Twitter...)
Hope this is helpful and you enjoy your own journey on Twitter, wherever you may be in the journey. Feel free to check me out on Twitter as well!