I recently decided to join the twitterati for professional purposes: I wasn’t really sure what I was letting myself in for (I’m still not!) or how to go about using Twitter to my advantage. There is a wealth of information that comes through at an alarming rate. I leave my desk for a lesson, come back and find there are 50 odd new tweets! My immediate though it – “I hope I’ve not missed anything ‘important’!”. It’s amazing how it hooks you in. You start off just having ‘a quick’ check and before you know a few hours have gone by! Not that this is a bad thing: I’ve already benefited greatly from being on Twitter. It’s opened up doors I didn’t know were there: without it I wouldn’t have come across useful articles and teaching or writing tips. It’s also quite a good vetting system for new teaching materials, especially when time and brain power aren’t on your side. You know that if a professional on Twitter has recommended materials, they’re likely to work. Something you can never be sure of on the ‘open’ internet. If you type, say ‘word form’ into a search engine, you’re inundated with hits – often totally irrelevant ones, so what was intended as a labour/time saving exercise actually becomes more frustrating: not only do you have to shift through all the hits, but the materials presented can also contain errors (something you often don’t find out until you’re using it in the classroom!). I’ve found Twitter eliminates this to a certain degree. The one aspect of Twitter I’m not so keen on, is what I call the ‘serial tweeters’: those who post (do you post a tweet?) more than 5 or 6 tweets at the same time. I find it pretty irritating. It just ‘clogs’ the flow.
I’m still very much a Twitter novice and know I could be using it much better and being a more active tweeter. Last week I read Katrina Gulliver’s 10 commandments of Twitter (http://chronicle.com/article/10-Commandments-of-Twitter-for/131813/ ) and found it very useful. I know what I need to do next to get even more out of Twitter.
I’d be interested to know about using it in the classroom as well. I’ve set up a Twitter feed on my VLE page (to allow students to follow or read learning tips if they wish), but at the moment it’s passive. I’d like to start using it a bit more actively in my teaching to enable students to see it as a learning tool as well as a way to see what your mates are up to.