Twitter: More Than Reading What Your Favorite Celebrity is Thinking

When I first created a Twitter account I wasn’t sure why I was doing it. Since I am a “technology junkie,” for lack of a better term, I wanted to see what Twitter was all about. For a long time I just followed the rich and famous I had interest in and a bunch of sports reporters, both local and national.

For a long time I didn’t have any followers, other than accounts that were essentially advertisements. Every now and then I would follow someone who felt it necessary to follow every one of their followers. But realistically I had no followers and didn’t care since I was a Twitter lurker, not a real tweeter.

As a self professed, “technology junkie,” I was very excited when I started to see Twitter make its way into education. Various NYSCATE conferences exposed me to the various weekly and monthly education focused discussions. Still, for whatever reason, I was not an active participant in these discussions. Sure, I read a lot of interesting things and ideas, but never contributed or asked any of my own questions.

Recently a colleague and I have become very interested in the whole blended/flipped classroom “movement.” At the beginning of our discussions I didn’t really consider Twitter to be a tool that could be overly valuable. However, after the most recent NYSCATE conference, a Blended Learning Summit, I saw the light.

Dr. Alex Couros spoke about personal learning networks and how teachers and more importantly students can create a learning network unlike anything they could have created in the past. Now students studying physics could almost instantly have access to physics professors from universities around the world. Students learning about art can go on a virtual tour of museums and chat online with the curators when they had questions. Students struggling with homework can get help from teachers and peers from across the country and sometimes across the world.

Twitter is a natural way for students to interact with experts from around the world and add to their personal learning network. Simply following experts on Twitter can lead to learning in the same way articles did in the past. The difference is now authors, or in this case tweeters, are only a tweet away if students have a question. No longer do students need find addresses and write letters and the need to find an email address has even been eliminated. Twitter is a great way for students to receive information, but it is also a great way for students to interact and expand their personal learning network.

I still have a ways to go before I become a professional tweeter like some of the celebrities who have hundreds of thousands of tweets, but I am constantly trying to add to my network and really working on being more than just a Twitter lurker.

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