Sunday, 20 May 2012

Why I Tweet: A Planning 10 Discussion

I've been exploring internet safety with my Planning 10 classes and, of course, they began to Google me.  A number of them wound up on my Twitter account and wanted to know why I was on there (and how their incredibly uncool teacher wound up with more followers than they have).  I explained how I use my Personal Learning Network to contact other educators from around the world.

The tweet above was based on an activity I'd heard about and am eager to try.  It was "retweeted" by a couple of people and generated several responses with helpful links and information from one person I used to work with and several I've never met.  I'm continually impressed by the power of my personal learning network, and often babble to friends (teachers and anybody else who will listen) about the positive influence that my Teacher Tweeps have had on my professional development, this year.  There may not be many educators in the same school or district trying a teaching strategy but, when a message is passed on to a large network of educators, I learn so much!

My students were incredibly open as they discussed their (good, bad, and ugly) experiences on Twitter but, as I suspected, all of them seem to use it for posting entertaining comments and communicating with people they know in real life.  In informal discussions and during lessons, I assume this and tend to emphasize the importance of interacting responsibly online when students see (or are tempted to leave) inappropriate comments, become the target of bullies and trolls, or begin to reveal too much personal information in a very public forum.  While it is important to discuss these things, I realized that I should also give my students examples of other ways to use social media so that they can develop positive online profiles.

I would love to have students use Twitter for research purposes; they could follow, contact, and potentially interview professionals in a particular field as they research for inquiry projects.  Social media is so incredibly powerful yet, while I talk about my love of Twitter with my colleagues, I feel that I missed out by leaving my students out of the discussion.  Has anybody out there used Twitter as a research tool with students?  We're wrapping up the year now but this is definitely something that I will keep in my mind for future years.

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