Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Educator's Stages of Twitter Use

When I first heard about Twitter, my initial reaction was, "I really don't want to read short sentences about what people eat for lunch." I saw Twitter as a way to announce the specific (and sometimes mundane) details about a person's day. I held on to that belief for a year before I saw something that changed my mind. 

In 2008, I saw real conversations happening on Twitter between law professionals. They were linking articles and providing detailed, helpful information to others - all in 140 character bites. And I realized that not only was I wrong about Twitter, but I was also missing out!

Over 6 years I've grown into a regular Twitter user who went through all the stages: 
1. Lurker - I would read and read some more. I did not Tweet but I loved reading what others Tweeted. 
2. Beginner - I started Tweeting slowly and became more comfortable with the format.
3. Addict - I could not read or Tweet enough! 
4. Adopter - It's a part of my regular day. 

But how does that apply to education? 
1. If you're a lurker, that's ok! Follow people and find an edchat that interests you. Read what they talk about. It's ok to lurk just as it's ok to listen to a guest speaker or read an educational blog.
2. If you're just starting out, don't be scared to Tweet your Twitter friends! You can only get better at Twitter by Tweeting. Think of it as getting the chance to talk to the guest speaker or the writer of that educational blog. Think of it as a way to discuss important topics with peers.
3. If you're an addict then you're not reading this; you're on Twitter right now.
4. An adopter is someone who is using Twitter as a professional networking tool, a professional learning community, and a self-paced tutorial for various topics. Those you've connected to on Twitter are your network and together you operate a free, always open, easy place to learn. That's the best part! You learn about the things that interest you at your own pace and at your convenience. Professional learning via Twitter is just a part of your day. 

There was a time when professional learning was confined to a staff meeting or a conference session. There was a time when interacting with peers to ask questions and form a network was limited to those in your campus. Twitter and other forms of social media have blown the walls off that way of life. Now, your learning is daily. Your network is global. Your reach is immeasurable. 

Sure, we talk about what we're having for lunch from time to time, but that's usually when it's something worth sharing! Now go Tweet!!