From Tears to a Fave Tech Tool: My Twitter Journey

Roughly one year ago in ECS 300, Katia Hildebrandt forced our class to participate in #saskedchat–a weekly Twitter chat for pre-service and practicing teachers across the province.  For many of us, this was our first introduction to the popular social networking site. Prior to the chat, Katia quickly showed us how to use Twitter; however, the time of our class and the time of the chat overlapped, so much of our learning was trial by fire–that is, we learned by doing.  Now, learning how to use Twitter can be overwhelming under normal circumstances; tweeting, retweeing, using hashtags, replying, following–it’s a lot to take in.  But learning how to use Twitter while simultaneously taking part in a Twitter chat? Now, that’s a whole different experience.  Long story short, there were a few meltdowns on my part.

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My first Twitter experience was off-putting; I thought Twitter was complicated, and I didn’t see how it would benefit me as a future educator.  I also didn’t like the public-ness of Twitter–I felt uncomfortable putting myself out there for the entire digital universe to see. However, I’ve have been a member of the Twitterverse for just over a year now, and my opinions on the social networking site have completely changed.  Now, Twitter is one of my go-to tech tools.

I mainly use Twitter as a professional development tool.  As overwhelming as my first Twitter chat was, I now participate in Twitter chats regularly such as #saskedchat, #canwestchat (a chat for educators across western Canada), and #rpstrtalk (a chat hosted by Regina Public Schools to discuss the TRC report).  One of the benefits of participating in Twitter chats is that doing so allows me to connect with, and learn from, other educators across Saskatchewan, in Canada, and around the world.  Essentially, Twitter helps to me expand my PLN. Another way that I use Twitter for professional development is by following hashtags that interest me as an educator.  For instance, as a chemistry major, I like to follow the hashtags #scichat and #chemchat.  By following these hashtags, I am able to see what other science educators are sharing or doing in their classrooms which in turn allows me to collect ideas for my own future classroom (like this super cool Periodic Table Battleship game!)

Aside from being a beneficial tool for teachers, I think Twitter can also be a useful tool for students.  In fact, I read an article recently that describes 50 ways in which Twitter can be employed in the classroom.  Ideas included anything from starting class Twitter page to keep students (and parents) up-to-date about assignments and class goings-on to asking students to live tweet a book or movie in lieu of the traditional book report.  Though I have never used Twitter in the classroom, I plan to try some of these neat ideas out during my internship in the fall.

Overall, despite my rocky introduction to it, I have become pro-Twitter–I think it has a lot of benefits for educators and students alike. How you do you use Twitter in your classroom? What are the benefits/drawbacks of Twitter? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

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