As Diana Forbes mentions in her research article, “Professional Online Presence and Learning Networks: Educating for Ethical Use of Social Media”,
“In teacher education, uses of social media include the production and sharing of content, discussion, and interaction with content, and collaborative connection with other social media users” (Forbes, 2017).
Twitter is becoming an avenue for professionals to share their learning, ask questions, and develop a social network in their field of interest. Users are encouraged to use social media to understand and communicate ideas which promotes openness by making research and resources available to anybody who is interested. It is now rare to attend a workshop or conference where there isn’t a hashtag where participants can share their experiences and moments of learning. In addition to being a place where groups can congregate and share ideas, it also allows as a ‘backchannel’ of communication with or between people (Forbes, 2017).
Although it is great being able to connect with the local educators in my relatively small school district, I have now built connections with people outside my district through various professional development opportunities. Therefore, it is great to scroll through and get inspired by what others are doing in their classrooms in their school. So often as teachers, I feel like we get stuck inside our classrooms doing the same things. Being on Twitter and other education based social media sites allows for educators to get a glimpse of what is going on in other peoples classrooms.
I hesitantly joined Twitter in November 2012 and have been using it for a variety of purposes throughout my teaching and learning journey. As I scroll back, I notice that I started using the platform as a way to view what was happening in the field of education in my district. I liked posts, retweeted some, and commented on others – hoping to make connections in the district I was just starting my teaching journey in. As I have progressed in my teaching, Twitter has grown right alongside me. I started sharing more of my own content such as field trips I was going on, inquiry lessons I had tried in class, hands on activities that my students enjoyed. Through these posts, I was able to garner support and feedback from the people around me. In addition, I was able to connect with teachers, admin, and special guests coming in and out of our district. Through following special guests, such as Janice Novakowski, I was then able to connect with people in her PLN that are interested in the same things I am doing. Something that has grown in Twitter over the last few years has been the use of weekly chats to connect with educators across the province/country/world (e.g. #edchat, #kinderchat, #edtech, etc.).
I have even noticed a difference in my use of Twitter over the last week and a half. Being a remote learner in this program was difficult at first as I am a very social person and need to connect with my peers in order to create an effective learning space for myself. Therefore, having our cohort hashtag (#tiegrad) has been amazing as it has allowed me to connect with guest speakers and my fellow classmates, see what is going on in their specific contexts, and see how they are connecting their class learning to their areas of interest. I appreciated everyone’s feedback on Saturday morning when I was feeling especially tired and stuck in a ‘world of procrastination’.
— Emily Miller (@MsEmilyMiller) July 13, 2019
As much as I value and appreciate Twitter for it’s sharing and community building capabilities, I am hesitant as it becomes another time sucker as I scroll through on a Sunday morning before I get out of bed. I am learning to prioritize the ways in which I want to communicate with people around me.
In addition, it adds to the confusion of developing boundaries between peoples personal and professional lives. My district administrators have seemed to find that boundary. On their Twitter accounts they are only sharing out the amazing things that educators and other administrators are doing in their buildings. A few of them have Instagram accounts where they share more personal family and life moments. As I move into this new administration role, I appreciate seeing the balance of both – and building in boundaries in their professional and personal sharing.
The ethics of Twitter use becomes more of an issue if you are using it as an educator and are in communication with your students. As an adult, I appreciate the communication and connectivity of Twitter, especially in this program. However, if I were going to use Twitter as a way to teach students about the respectful use of social media, I would use some of the items suggested by Alec Couros and Jesse Miller – mentioned in my blog posts (hyperlinked to their names).
What about students developing personal learning networks (PLN) online? Check out this podcast episode by InnovatED called ‘Surprise: what happened when my student created her own personal learning network’ to hear first hand the student experience with developing a digital PLN. Click the podcast icon to listen and let me know your thoughts!
Finally, something that was new to me this week was Tweetdeck! I love being able to curate specific people, groups, and tweets in order to follow what is going on in that area of interest. It allows me to see a quick snapshot of what is going on in my specific areas of interest, so I am not taking up so much personal time scrolling through content. See a screenshot of mine below (10/07/2019).
However, it then spiraled me into a deep dive of Twitter to see who else is out there and grow my own PLN. Below I have curated a list of people, hashtags, and personal blogs that are constantly adding to my professional practice as a BC elementary educator and leader. Here is just a snapshot, but there are so many more! (*And sorry I have not directly linked them all there, there are just too many!*)
@_valeriei, @technolandy, @ChristineYH, @BreneBrown, @IE_UBC, @SELearningEDU, @courosa, @ereid38, @TomSchimmer, @SteveWyborney, @EdCampBCCC, @BCnumeracy, @LearningForward, @WabKinew, @FNESC, @IndigenousEdBC, @bradleyrbaker, @noiie_bc, @jhalbert8, @kaser_linda, @OpalSchool, @strong_nations, @trev_Mackenzie, @Usingtechbetter, @tweetsomemoore, @fayebrownlie, @TIE_BC, @akijae, @shareski, @anniekinders, jnovakowski38, @MediatedReality, @cdnedchat, @makerspaces_com, @bcedchat, @LFee17, @gcouros, @rbathursthunt, @ltnpbs (Lynne Tomlinson), @SLShortall, @JanetMHicks, @UBCmfenton, @DiscoveryEd, @chrkennedy
#edchat, #bcedchat, #kinderchat, #edtech, #EdLeaders, #FormativeAssessment, #SEL, #classroomdesign, #PLN, #inquiry
Culture of Yes by Chris Kennedy
The Principal of Change by George Couros
Inquiry Mindset by Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt
I hope that this list of inspiring educators allows you to spiral into developing your own Personal Learning Network!