There is no doubt that Twitter provides an excellent, on-going form of personalized professional development. The moment that you want to learn something, you just go about doing it. The whole experience takes on greater value when you gather a group of like minded educators and share a common focus. On Wednesday evening, Ontario Educators had not one but two opportunities to participate in a Twitter Chat. I was there for both and it was a terrific opportunity. After all, as @pmcash notes:
I don’t know how many folks were involved – I had set a goal to try and do a tally but got so engaged with the conversations that I completely forgot. My bad.
People wanted to make it work and so were checking in where they could.
We had people teaching online classes chiming in and others who were doing school activities but most of us were snuggled in to do some learning in our homes.
The evening started with the Critical Thinking Chat. Hashtag for this was #CTChat. Sadly, a search of that hashtag really doesn’t do the chat justice – Twitter seems to have lost some of the content. But, if you were live, you were in for a great discussion. The ringleader for the evening was @taniasterling who I had the distinct pleasure to meet at the ECOO Conference. It was interesting to see her role in the process – she started with a couple of leading probes and we were off. As a skilled facilitator, her presence was barely noticeable except to redirect the conversation when it was necessary.
As could be predicted since we were all at computers, parts of the conversation zeroed in tactics and resources for helping students to think critically about what they’re reading on the internet. The chat has also started a space to share resources and ideas for what critical thinking might look like in a classroom. I really liked the tie-in to literacy and the discussions that took off in that direction.
In a heartbeat, it seemed that the chat was over until next week. I think most people headed off to the…
Now, this one had my interest when Shannon Smith had originally let us know about it. It wasn’t necessarily the topic, it was trying to picture all these Ontario Connected Leaders squeezed into one room. But, somehow it worked. From the simple question “What do Educational Leaders Tweet about”, the conversation was off and into very interesting areas.
There was one area of leadership that I wanted to know about and so tweeted out a message “how many times have you sent a plea for help out on twitter at home and picked up the answer at school” (or something like that). It was an interesting bit of conversation that I like to call JITL (Just In Time Learning) Once you’ve cultivated a good support group, it’s amazing how unselfishly people step forward to assist. Of course, @shannoninottawa had to one up me – indicating that she’s sent out a message and walked down the hall at school and got her answer there!
Equally as quickly, this chat was over.
In both cases, I think that people could have gone on for much longer but just like Twitter works best in small amounts, so does a Twitter chat. Keep ’em coming back for more. #CTChat is scheduled weekly on Wednesday evenings and @ONTCL seemed like an experiment and it will be interesting to see what timeslot it falls in to.
From the discussion, there were some new people added to the Twitter Ontario Educator list. If you’re an Ontario Educator reading this post and want to get added to the list, head over to this link and add your co-ordinates.
It’s interesting to follow the tips from those who participated. There were some that were using the Twitter website to participate; some used a separate column in Tweetdeck; I used a separate column in Seesmic Web to capture the conversation but used TweetChat for the actual tweeting (Without it, I often forget to key the hashtag); some were using Flipboard and following the feed there. It should come as no surprise that all these connected leaders couldn’t agree on one best way!
Once you get the mechanics down, it’s all conversation and great conversation. There was agreement that face-to-face meetings at PD events cannot be replaced but this was the next best thing. We can’t all get together in one conference room somewhere, but we sure can meet virtually like we did Wednesday.
I hope that the word of both of these chats spreads. It is a magnificent forum to devote some time for JITL.