Until this time, I viewed Twitter as a forum for people to post very short comments and descriptions about what they are currently doing, how they are feeling and whatever thoughts came to mind. My familiarity with Twitter was limited to hearing about the tweets of actors/actresses and athletes.
I admit it took a bit of an explanation for me to see how I could benefit from Twitter. Somewhat understanding the possibilities but more so, just choosing to be fearless and dive in, I signed up for a Twitter account and became a Tweep.
Tweep: definition 'Peeps using Twitter'
Upon signing up, I immediately started following other local educators who I am aware of. Initially, I remained a passive Tweep, reading others' tweets, visiting their blogs, and gradually adding to the list of people I chose to follow. After a few weeks, inspired by other Tweeps and Bloggers, I started blogging. I soon saw that I was connecting with others who are equally passionate and interested in education as I am.
Twitter has also facilitated some in-person introductions and meetings with other educators. At a recent B.C. Principals & Vice-Principals Association gathering and Phi Delta Kappan meeting, I had the pleasure of meeting some fellow Tweeps in person. Twitter has also enabled me to connect with a group of local educators that is planning for the upcoming EdCampVancouver 'unconference' in April. It is amazing that the idea for starting this unconference originated through Twitter, resulting in a TweetUp! I look forward to participating in a TweetUp in the future.
Unconference: definition 'a facilitated, participant-driven conference centred on a theme or purpose'
TweetUp: definition 'a meet up of people who us Twitter'
My PLN (Personal Learning Network) continues to grow as I am exposed to the thoughts and perspectives of different people from all over the world. Twitter continues to be a tool through which I can share my ideas with others, read others' ideas and engage in conversations. Regularly, the ideas of others challenge me to reflect on my own beliefs and practice. In particular, I must thank local BC educators @gmbondi, @birklearns, @chrkennedy, @remi_collins, @MrWejr and @terryainge for influencing my thinking.
The beauty of creating my PLN is it is always there, at my convenience for me to tap into whenever I want to. Unlike a workshop or conference I am not forced to attend at a specified time. My PLN has also made my world smaller, allowing me to communicate with like-minded individuals globally who I would not otherwise be able to do so with if I was limited to conversing with them in person. I am not advocating that my PLN replaces face-to-face contact but it is a perfect supplement to the discussions I have with colleagues in my Professional Learning Community.
I have used twitter to:
- establish a PLN
- ask questions
- answer questions
- share resources (teaching & leadership tools, blogs, video clips)
Undoubtedly, I attribute my PLN with broadening and deepening my thinking. It is a form of personal professional development that I envision myself accessing regularly. I recommend that all educators move beyond their hesitations and take the plunge to establish a PLN through Twitter. Once you do, you'll find it hard to turn back!