I had a teacher in high school who proudly proclaimed on our first day of class, “I don’t have a cell phone. I have never had a cell phone. I have lived this long without a cell phone. I don’t need a cell phone.” You get the picture; he didn’t own stock in Verizon. Some might approach this with, “Well, to each their own!” but we can just as easily say that about the printing press, mp3 players, and even the microwave, which brings me to a hot topic in education: social media—and to narrow it down a bit more specifically, Twitter.
Mind you, I am not comparing Twitter to the printing press. But, I do want to point out the importance of Twitter in our culture and how you can connect with educators and students with 140 characters or less. You can choose not to use Twitter, but before you make such a declarative statement, here is why Twitter matters.
Twitter is everywhere.
I recently came across a Mashable article that pointed out that Twitter often breaks news before mainstream news. Of course, you deal with hoaxes—and more reliable sources often are waiting for fact verification—but the truth of the matter is the people who are there to see the aftermath, or who are there to experience events firsthand, are tweeting about it. Your students know this and are tweeting throughout the day, connected, almost constantly, by this one network.
Twitter is already in many classrooms.
Your students are tweeting in your classroom, under desks or blatantly in front of you, and teachers everywhere are already using it to their advantage. Some have an, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” approach, but others realize this is something they can wield in their classroom because students are already onboard. From using Twitter as a reminder for assignments and a forum for homework help, to actually making Twitter the assignment, this social network can be a great classroom tool. Just read about these two foreign language professors who are incorporating Twitter in their classroom.
Twitter is being used as a professional development tool.
If you live in a state, say Georgia, and you search for “#GAed,” tweets will magically surface with educational conversations! You will find teachers asking advice, discussing blended learning approaches, looking for information about how one-to-one instruction is operating in other districts, etc. A lot of states have scheduled chat sessions as well. Think of it like the open forum after a webinar, sans webinar. You get to jump right in and have a network of educators you might have never been able to connect with, right at your fingertips.
Educational technology is not fleeting, it is here to stay. You may decide that Twitter is not for you or your classroom, but at least now you know what you’re walking away from. And if Twitter does grab your interest, we invite you to follow Edgenuity.