How is someone writing their diary online, for everyone to read, going to help anyone learn anything? I mean, who cares about what you did today? Why on earth would I be interested in the minutiae of someone's personal life? Who they like; who they don't; where they're going this weekend; what they ate for breakfast; or ... any of it?!?
How do you reply to people who feel this way? In my experience the best answer is to point them to the ever growing list of excellent educational blogs published daily. We have class blogs, individual student blogs, teacher blogs, professional development blogs, course blogs and the list goes on and on. There are many good reasons we blog.
Along comes twitter. The stupidest idea you've ever heard: "What are you doing right now?" People everywhere sharing the minutiae of their daily lives as it happens. Ridiculous! Or is there something more to it?
My first reaction to twitter was: "Huh? Why would anyone want to do that?" I watched it take off across the edublogosphere, amazed. Why are people doing this? Who has time for such nonsense?
Alan Levine wrote a series of blog posts about his enthusiasm for twittering. I finally asked him, in a comment, what's the value gained from tweeting. His reply essentially said: Educational Technology is not a spectator sport. We learn by doing. Alan's recent presentation Being There, underscores this perspective quite powerfully. (I highly recommend taking it in via the flickr set.)
Some of the advantages I've found from tweeting:
• It's intimate. People say good morning and good night.
• It's very personal and it's very professional. It provides instant access to a community of practice where people share knowledge and expertise and also provide support and encouragement and problem solve together.
Twitter has become very much my staffroom where I connect with a variety of educators (teachers, principals and superintendents) across the spectrum of teaching domains, age groups, socioeconomic and geophysical contexts. There are also a number of consultants and others working in education whose job descriptions don't fit neatly into any box. All these people have become integral players in my ever growing community of professional practice.
Joan Badger and Ben Hazard in the SmartBoard Lesson Podcast: Episode 72 talk about twitter. They seem to be sitting at the start of Alan's Twitter Life-Cycle. Like Alan says in his "Being There" presentation about edtech tools in general, you can't judge the worth of a tool by watching someone else use it; you have to use it yourself to understand it. You won't appreciate the true value of twitter until you jump in with both feet. Maybe try something like what Bob Sprankle did in July: Tweet regularly for 30 days ... then see how you feel about it.
I started writing this almost three months ago. This week Ben Hazard added me to his twitter stream and I added him to mine. Maybe this whole post is now moot but when Ben added me to his stream (actually, twitter is more like the Mackenzie) I was inspired to publish this post; the first of 23 posts I have sitting in draft. Thanks for the push Ben, you got me writing again. ;-)
By the way, if you've not listened to the SMARTBoard Lesson Podcast I highly recommend it. I've been a regular listener for about nine months now. Always engaging, always good for a laugh and a great model for collaborative professional practice and development. If you use an interactive whiteboard in your teaching then you'll get a lot out of listening to the podcast. In the meantime, I'm going to try to get my "SMARTBoard Tip" in for the contest before time runs out. (Listen for the podcast to find out more.)
Cheers Ben and Joan!