Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On Becoming a Tweep!

Back in October @terryainge introduced me to Twitter and the idea of starting a blog.
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)
The following video "Twitter for Teachers " is from the Learning Blog. It describes simple ways that educators can use Twitter as part of their own personal professional development as well as to directly support their students' learning.

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!


  1. Glad to be a part of your PLN, Aaron! Like you, I have learned a great deal from the educators that you mention in your post. The collection of knowledge and experience that we are able to tap into almost instantaneously through Twitter is amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I have become a tweep recruiter.

    You are right, once you get started, it is hard to stop. But the question is, why turn away from such an incredible resource.

    Great post, and I am sure that more tweeps are coming!

  2. It has been an excellent fall for connecting with others in B.C. on Twitter. What is also true of all the people you mentioned in your post is that they are not just on Twitter they all also have a blog. I spent a couple years on Twitter before starting blogging and I am really seeing how they work together. Twitter allows you to connect with ideas in short bursts, and your blog gives you a place to reflect on what you are learning and engage in the deeper conversations that take more than 140 characters. I am finding my blog to be my basecamp.

    It is also great to know there are others out there wrestling with the same things that you are wrestling with. Sometimes I worry that we are drinking the kool-aid on Twitter as many of us who regularly connect see the world in a similar way - but we are challenged at many other times in our professions around these beliefs (whether they be about awards, assessment, technology, future of secondary education) it is nice to have a place where we have a largely supportive community.

    It is also interesting how many of us use Twitter to reconnect on pesonal relationships - as we move around - many that I am connected with like you and Terry I knew from Richmond and others like Remi from my time in Coquitlam. We are increasingly moving around (more than the previous generation) in our administrative roles, and social media allows us to stay connected.

    It was also interesting how natural it felt at the PDK event to pick up in the face-to-face world our conversations we were having online. Twitter clearly added value and power to our face-to-face relationships.

    Great to connect here with you Aaron - happy blogging and tweeting for the new year!

    Chris Kennedy

  3. Aaron,
    Quite happy to be a fellow Tweep! (It's much better than being a twit!)
    I believe that Twitter has been a catalyst for starting, extending and deepening our thinking, and our face to face conversations. I'm enthusiastic about its potential for supporting collaboration in our school and beyond. Thanks for jumping in ... your PLN (including me) is richer for it!

  4. Thanks for the comment and being a part of my PLN. I am amazed at the richness of resources and people that we have in BC. There are so many talented people in our province and we are just at the tip of the iceberg of making great connections. I am looking forward to some of the projects that the BCPVPA are starting and looking for better ways to collaborate. Thanks for the tweets, RTs and comments as well as your blogging.

  5. Well said! I love how Twitter has , especially recently, introduced me to so many passionate educators within BC. I look forward to extending these relationships to Skype calls and tweetups in the near future. Thanks for the learning an I look forward to more great conversations!

  6. I loved your post. Twitter is such a powerful tool. I joined twitter in 2007, but I couldn't figure it out. It wasn't until May this year that I slowly started getting involved in edu related stuff and built my PLN too.
    My PLN has made such a difference for me. Not only has my teaching changed, but I have grown so much thanks to them. My PLN keeps inspiring to do great things all the time. I started my own blog, I started using tech tools with my students and I even had the chance to present on online conferences. I couldn't ask for more. Twitter has helped me connect with wonderful, passionate educators.
    I'm glad you're on this journey too. Jumping into this adventure will definitely make a difference for you too.