Twitter has kind of become ‘my thing’. The other day, my ECMP 455 classmates deemed me a Twitter champ, which is a title that I will gladly accept but really do not deserve. I wasn’t always so comfortable using Twitter, though. My first experience with Twitter was two years ago in ECS 300 when my professor at the time, Katia, forced us to take part in #saskedchat — a Twitter chat for educators across the province. It was a trial-by-fire experience, and long story short, I had a few meltdowns.
After that scarring experience, I started to explore Twitter more, and now, almost two years later, it has become one of my favourite tools. I‘ve written about my thoughts on Twitter before, so for the purposes of this post, I thought I would review my thoughts, discussing how they maybe have changed, as well as any new thoughts that I have.
I still think that Twitter is an awesome professional development tool — that’s one of my thoughts that has not changed. One 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. These hashtags allow me to see other science teachers are sharing or doing in their classrooms, which in turn allows me to collect ideas for my own future classroom. For instance, this past spring, someone tweeted about this super cool Periodic Table Battleship game to the #chemchat hashtag. I ended up saving the link, and in the fall during my internship, I actually used the activity in my Science 10 classroom.
Something that I have recently come to learn is that hashtags are also a great way to follow live professional development events. For example, last weekend, UR S.T.A.R.S., the on-campus group that I am a part of, collaborated with UR Pride and Camp fYrefly to host GSD Camp — an Edcamp that focused on teaching and learning about gender and sexual diversity. During the event, people were live-tweeting to the hashtag #GSDCamp from the sessions they were attending. Not only did this allow participants to see what was going on in other sessions, but it allowed people who could not attend to follow the event.
Aside from using it as a professional development tool, I have recently expanded on the ways that I use Twitter. For instance, during my internship, I used Twitter as a way to document and share about what was going on in my classes:
By sharing about the learning that was going on in my classroom, it added a level of transparency to my teaching. It also allowed me to share ideas of different learning activities with others on Twitter. I have also come to use Twitter as a platform to share about, and speak out against, social and political issues. Lately I’ve noticed a trend. Many of my peers are hesitant to post about personal, social, political, and controversial topics because they don’t want it to impact their careers — they want to remain ‘neutral’. However, the way I see it, when it comes to social justice issues and oppression, if we stay silent in order to protect our image (or whatever the reason), our silence can be deemed as complicity or approval. I think advocacy is important, and Twitter is a tool that allows me to do that.
In some ways, my thoughts about Twitter have changed since my last post. For example, I used to think that Twitter would be a great tool to use in the classroom with my students. Not so much anymore. I still think that there are a lot of cool ways that students can use Twitter for educational purposes, but as my classmate Sarah points out in her blog post, it’s not a platform commonly used by teenagers these days — it’s outdated to them. I think it’s important to try to incorporate students’ interests, and frankly Twitter is not something students are interested in. At least my students during internship weren’t. In fact, my Physical Science 20 class called me “old” when I told them that I’m on Twitter. So, my question is: should we be pushing tools on students that they aren’t interested in?
How do you use Twitter as a tool for teaching and learning? What do you think are some of the benefits/drawbacks of Twitter? Share your thoughts with me in the comments — I’d love to hear from you!