Why I Use Twitter
Honestly, I can’t even imagine doing my job without Twitter now, or some form of a personal learning network. Twitter is only as powerful as the people you’re following, and it’s going to be a different experience for everybody. Here’s just a few ways I’ve found Twitter useful:
As I first started following educators, I found there were many sharing tips and techniques for teaching in the classroom. One thing educators on Twitter seem to love doing is sharing links with others. You can watch how they communicate with others, too, and find even more followers this way. Many educators tweet their new blog posts, so Twitter can be a great tool for finding new blogs you may not be reading. There are also sites like Twellow and Mr. Tweet which can you help find many more (for a more exhaustive list created by educators of great Twitter apps, see Twitter Freaks on Diigo).
What I’ve also found useful is when educators attend technology conferences such as NECC (now ISTE) or FETC. Many of them take along their webcams, set them up during presentations they attend, and tweet the Ustream links. As a result, I can watch some great professional development sessions from the comfort of my office or home, without paying a dime.
Twitter is great for learning about emerging technologies. As soon as a teacher catches wind of a great new site that just came out, you can bet it’ll make its rounds on Twitter. Whenever I need help figuring out the best tool for a particular job, or tracking down a video I remembered seeing several months ago, I can always count on my Twitter network to help me. I just ask a question and within a few minutes I may get a dozen responses back. One way to think of Twitter is like a chat room you can take anywhere you want, filled with people you choose (since most people you follow will follow you back). It can turn into quite a vast learning network.
I recommend checking out the following session by Jeff Utecht at the 2007 K-12 Online Conference: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=205 Twitter was still brand new at this time, but there were already teachers flocking to it. During this presentation Jeff has Twitter open and casually uses it to connect with educators and has them share insights. It quite aptly demonstrates just how connected Twitter can make you. It’s what made Twitter click for me, at least.