Twitter for Teachers: Creating a Learning Network Online
There are plenty of ways to bring social media into the classroom, from helping students develop digital citizenship habits to live-tweeting news events as they unfold. But teachers like Alice Chen from California don’t always feel so much enthusiasm about joining the online community themselves. For Chen, Twitter seemed like nothing more than a place for jokes and celebrity gossip. That all changed, though, when she started using social networks as a way to get advice about classroom tech. Chen quickly learned that “the true superstars on Twitter were educators,” and she’s been a social media pro ever since.
When Chen first got the opportunity to use iPads in her classroom, she wasn’t sure where to look for tips and training – until she gave Twitter a try. “If I truly wanted to grow as a teacher and collaborate with other educators,” she writes, “I had to force myself out of my comfort zone and leave my metaphorical island.” She appreciated the 140-character limit, which helped her focus her ideas and questions, and loved the ways that social media allowed her to engage with a community of teachers around the world. Unlike other kinds of professional development, the online learning community let her design her own training “on my own terms and based on my interests.”
Now, Chen has expanded her online presence, keeping up a blog and interacting with her readers and commenters to make her learning network even bigger. She even shares advice with other educators who are looking to get their start on social media. “At first, I thought I would just be a quiet observer,” she says, but “being an active participant is definitely much more rewarding.” As Chen’s experience shows, every teacher has an important voice to add to the digital community – and it all starts with the first tweet.