What Does Twitter for PD Mean – Thank you Google

Doug’s Note:  This is a repost of a post I sent on August 6.  Somehow, it got deleted from the blog.  But not from Google!  I checked for the cached version and am reposting it for those who are looking for it.  My apologies for it going missing in action.



Twitter for PD?  What does this mean?  (Old radio listeners from Detroit will recognize Dick the Bruiser format)

I referenced a couple of blog posts yesterday in my post about hurting yourself with social media.  There doesn’t pass a day when I see reference to using Twitter (or other social media for that matter) for professional development.

I often wonder about this.  I agree with some of the assumptions made but not all of the examples given actually work for me.  I think the joy of it is that it can work at so many levels.  Here are some thoughts about mine.

Twitter Chats
Inevitabily, any discussion about Twitter for Professional Development includes reference to Twitter Chats.  I’ve bookmarked a number of references to my Diigo account and probably the reference to start with is this one. I know that people swear by these online sessions.  For me, I tried and gave up.  I find the time commitment for active participation too much and, if we’re looking for examples of echo chambers, the ones that I’ve participated in just seemed that way.

But that doesn’t mean hashtags are to be ignored.  Put together after the fact using something likeStorify can be a terrific way to quickly scan the thoughts and sharing from a focused event.

140 Characters at a time
Anything Meaty?  I got taken to task yesterday for sharing the post about Twitter and Facebook replacing Traditional Teacher Professional Development.

From the title of the article, it was probably justified.  Just getting a Twitter account and doing a couple of Twitter messages and reading a bunch certainly doesn’t cut it.  It’s a modern equivalent of going to the library and skimming the card catalogue and calling yourself informed.  Even if you do use “texting talk” to imply more than 140 characters, it can still be lacking.

Getting a PLN
Creating your own Professional Learning Network is easy.  Just log on to Twitter on any Friday and look for #FollowFriday or #FF links and follow those people.  Put together more than one and you’ve got yourself a network.  If that’s all that you’re doing, it’s the equivalent of hanging around with a group of strangers outside a movie theatre.  It’s nice to be there and associate but that’s as far as it goes.

So, now that I’ve started this post off in a negative fashion – which quite frankly isn’t something I like to do – how can it be productive and why does Doug spend so much time with it?

Lose the Development
I’m not a fan of the term “Professional Development”.  In my mind, it reinforces the concept that someone or something else is doing something to, or for you, to help you improve…just like everyone else at the session.  There was a time and place when this was valuable.  At a Teachers’ College, for example, there are a certain set of skills that should be part of any future educator’s toolkit.  Well all know, though, that once you get into your classroom and close the door, it’s you and your students.

Gain the Learning
If you’ve graduated from that Teachers’ College, your professional needs don’t stop.  In fact, they should probably grow exponentially.  The more you know, the more you need to know.  Have you ever taught the exact same class two years in a row?  Heck, have you ever taught the same class exactly the same way two days in a row?  In a lock stepped curriculum, perhaps a standardized development approach would do the trick.  For all others, learning as you go, on the fly, as needed, is a necessity.

You just know that there had to be some sort of edu-babble introduced into a discussion like this.  Remember those needs?  They now become YOUR needs.  At any quality conference, you are enabled by allowing you to select just what you need during any time slot.  Learning online should work the same way.  Track down and engage in the discussions that feed your present needs.

Build a Critical Mass
I was showing off my RebelMouse page to a friend recently as a way to show how we might accumulate stories for a totally different reason.  Her comments were “You have over 5000 followers?”  Yes, but more importantly, I follow over 3000.  The folks that I follow have been chosen for a purpose.  I can count on them to engage, inspire, and challenge me daily.  It really helps to grow my thinking.  I recall when I did follow 20 or so people.  My impression then was that this whole exercise was a waste of time.  Not now.

Twitter as a LaunchPad
The best learning for me happens when the conversation takes off and doesn’t necessarily stay in the social media.  I like following the links – take me to news reports, research, forums, wikis, and blogs where the meaty stuff resides.  You don’t get the full monty 140 characters at a time but like the library card catalogue, it should be there to tease and inform you about where the good stuff is.

Give Back
It’s one thing to be there and suck it all in.  Anyone who has ever put together a child’s toy where “some assembly is required” knows that there’s much more to the job that simply reading the instructions.  You’ve got to roll up your sleeves, find those tools in the toolbox and then get to the job of doing it.  The same thing happens with social media.  Find and share.  You can do this 140 characters at a time.  While you’ve differentiated for your own needs a set or sub-set of yours will undoubtedly have an appeal to someone else.

Don’t keep your best learning to yourself
You can’t get in shape by watching other people work out at the gym.  You can learn the techniques of the exercise but you don’t get the benefit until you do it yourself.  Ditto for social media.  Did you learn something inspiring, out of the ordinary, or just something that got your through to morning recess?  If it worked for you, it just might be of value to someone else somewhere.  Blog about it; add it to your wiki.  Education isn’t about the person who wins by hoarding the most; the winner will be the one who influences by filtering and sharing or creating the best of the best.

When you look at Twitter and what it can really do, I think you’ll see that it can be an incredibly powerful tool.  Unlike Professional Development where you show up for a coffee and muffin and sit back, Professional Learning with Twitter is work.  It requires engagement, active interactions, creating and sharing your learning.  Isn’t that what we expect from our students?  Should we expect no less from ourselves?

Related articles

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Yes, it’s summer but the great content just keeps on coming.  Thanks to Ontario Edubloggers, there was some great learning and thinking for me over the past while.  Some of the highlights…

Teaching Out Loud – If Practice Makes Perfect…But Let Them See The Practice
Stephen Hurley had a pair of posts dealing with the concept of practice.  His context was that of a musician.  I smiled a bit as I thought of my own practice when I was learning the steel guitar as a youth.  (hardly learning a Beethoven Sonata as Stephen notes in his blog!)

When I practiced, it was upstairs in my bedroom and it was expected that it would be loud enough so that it was apparent that we were getting our money’s worth but not loud enough to really disrupt the rest of the house.  So, every strum was audiolly transparent.  Stephen asks to think deeper.  Why should your practice be somehow secret?

If success is measured only when you’re perfect, nothing would ever get done.  We get better when we practice.  We get better when we get constructive feedback.  There’s only one way to do this, it seems, and that’s to open yourself up.  After all, the CFL, the NHL, and any sports league has a pre-season that’s quite open before the season.  Musicians will have a free concert or two or play at a local pub before going on the road.  If these professions are open in this way, then why not education?  Isn’t blogging the perfect platform for practice and open sharing of your thinking?  Goodness knows I can use all the practice and refinement that I can get.  Shouldn’t we all?

Tapping into Teen Minds – Mac OS X Mountain Lion Provides Great Improvements

I’ve been waiting for a blog post about this.  With my bad internet connection, I’d have to go somewhere with fast internet anyway to purchase and download the latest Macintosh OS Upgrade.  So, I haven’t.  I still remember all the problems that I had with the last upgrade.  I think I’ve manage to wrestle them to the ground.  The Intel Core 2 Duo processor really seems to be maxed out with what I’ve got running now.  Do I want to put it through more with this upgrade?

I’ve read of a number of ways to turn off the notifications and all the social integration into Mountain Lion so I think I could handle that.  I’m going to have to wade my way through Kyle’s very thorough review of why he thinks that this is a must for the classroom.

The Mobile Learner – Will Voice Dictation Change the Nature of Writing?

While so many are still evaluating mobile technology and having “pilot” programs to see if it makes sense, Rob DeLorenzo not only has embraced the concept but it pushing hard to make us think about what it really means.  He has gotten by the question “D’uh, will this work” and is moving towards “let’s make the most of it”.
His thoughts that oral communication might replace traditional writing pushes me too far at this time.  I know that I can type better than I can speak.  If you question your abilities, try writing a sentence and then try podcasting the same thing.  Which will be perfect?  I grew up in a system that expected perfect in product and so have the whole writing process committed to habit.  I have too many mannerisms in my speaking to do the same thing without multiple chances.
It’s a good post – it really pushed my thinking.  I’m not there personally, but I can see where there may be some that are ready to give it a shot.

Webtools for Learners, Teachers, and Beginners – Copyright – a Different Understanding – Kirby Ferguson
I remember in high school labouring over a story for hours on end for an English class.  It involved vampires.  I was really proud of the work and turned it in thinking that maybe just once I could impress my teacher with something creative.  I got it back with a 0 and a claim that I stole the idea from someone else.

That’s a real shame because how many permutations on a vampire story / legend can there be?  It really was an honest, written by me effort.  I wish that I’d read the TED video that Joan Vinall-Cox shared on her blog this week.  I wonder if I could have explained everything away as a subconscious remix?

Through the examples of a Bob Dylan, Steve Jobs, or a Henry Ford, the talk really is an interesting look at the intent and application of copyright.  It made me think that perhaps we should more formally embrace the concepts of remixing.  What do you think?

Thanks to all the above for creating and sharing some thoughtful posts this week.  I really enjoyed your works.
You can read these and all the posts from Ontario Educators by starting at this link.  If you’re an Ontario Edublogger and want to be added to the list, just complete the form at the site and you will be added to the list.


OTR Links 08/17/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.