Monday, July 23, 2012

Teachers and Twitter?

I never thought that teachers would embrace the technology that limits thoughts to 160 characters.  Teachers are all about fleshing out ideas and supporting one's thoughts.

That being said, one would naturally assume Twitter is a natural enemy of teachers.  But Friday's class changed my mind.  I never thought of Twitter as a platform to spread creative lesson plans.  Searching relevant hashtags, following edubloggers, responding to lesson suggestions- all are much more productive (and more interesting) than reading what your former neighbor had for breakfast this morning.  Twitter makes it easy to quickly filter relevant posts, and collects posts from a plethora of other tweeters in one convenient location.

My sophomore year of undergrad, I took a class called "Technology and the Humanities."  We had to create audio essays, wiki pages, write reaction blogs (much like this one...), post our feelings about class each afternoon on Twitter, and much more.  That class made me accept the role of technology in every day life a little more, but I still thought Twitter was a useless platform that would die out within the year.  Yes, it allowed students to makes comments and react to class. It was nice for students that hated writing and gladly accepted the 160 character limit.  It was nice to think that students had to be creative and learn to be concise because of the space limit.  It was nice to have instant feedback from one's peers.  But all those "nice" things didn't seem very valuable to me.  I felt like other online platforms would allow for more nuanced and thought out responses.

Using Twitter to share links- now that is more like it. Posting a quick snippet to let others know what a link is going to share and having a tinyurl link to a blog or website combines the best of Twitter and Blog worlds.  It is like having a bunch of headlines to scan (like a newspaper) and choosing which to read up on.  Thoughts don't have to be cryptic because of character limits.  Teachers can still have faith that people can expand on their ideas and actually use descriptive words instead of using the bare bones of a sentence and throwing grammar to the wind.  "C U l8er" and "BRB" don't have to replace real speech.  Hoorah!  Proper English still has a chance!

I am still a bit skeptical about the personal websites to share with employers.  Sarcasm and jokes are still difficult to decipher at times- especially when reading something without the author present.  Even if I screen everything I put on my website, I don't like the idea of having a cyberspace trail that I can never get rid of.  The website can be useful for interviews where people can't meet in person- but I think Skype is still a better alternative.  Things are less likely to be lost in translation when you can see and hear the other person.  I fear getting to a point where I feel I need to self-censor so much my true personality can't shine through.  I'll be so worried about seeming professional I can't be myself.  I can't be there to read the mood in the room (or the cyber connection online), so I can't decide if it is OK to start letting my humorous side out.  The website leaves me exposed, without being there to defend myself, and reduced to the bare bones of what I think someone else wants to see with no room for adapting during the process (as in when the interviewer is looking at the cite).  Call me old fashioned, but I would prefer practicing my people skills.


  1. Fantastic insights on the Twitter scenario! I had never really given much thought to any true utility for it until Friday's class. Now, I am quite intrigued by the possibilities it seems to offer, particularly with regard to discovering novel lesson plan ideas and connecting with fellow educators who share a similar passion for teaching "outside the box." I look forward to exploring Twitter and building a network of educators to follow--of course, this endeavor will be much easier to fit into the schedule once our MAC program wraps up :-) Only 10 months to go!

  2. I never thought about my website being viewed without me there. That was a great point to bring up. I too, have a humorous side that would be hard to get across through a website. I feel I do a lot better in one-on-one situations and I would still want that interaction with a future employer. If we do censor our websites to make them more appropriate/professional we are basically putting our resume on a website when we would have included them in our application anyways. I liked the idea of using twitter to explore other teaching activities.

  3. I agree with your last comment re: personal websites as an avenue to employment. I don't believe I'm being old fashioned or reclusive because I don't FaceBook, or Twitter, or even text. Privacy is something many do not seem to take too seriously, and I wonder why a resume or cv seems no longer adequate.

  4. Using it as proof that I'm "tech-savvy" seemed like the primary point of having an e-resume. Schools eat that stuff up nowadays. Infiltrate the system by having it up, and then, once you're hired, go all old-school on them. Also, check out the blog post I'm about to write on what I took away from this: making a class website, where *regularly updated* syllabus info, assignments, etc could be accessed. You might like it.

    1. I love your thinking! I'll show I can talk the talk and walk the walk. When I get to the school, I will blow them away with my amazing old-fashioned skills. I look forward to reading your blog post. I wish schools actually thought about why they wanted their teachers to be tech-savvy. Are there specific technologies they want us to use? Why? Do they just want to look like they are keeping up with the Joneses?

  5. I think like it or not, a résumé or CV is going to be expected online. Indeed, it is already so for most academics. Your favorite prof most likely has a webpage and list of experiences, publications, and awards. A LinkedIn profile is becoming expected. If you're old like me, you might be able to slide by. Do you want the parents of your students to be able to see your qualifications? I think you should want that.

    Hence, Not exactly a résumé yet, but it will be a destination for my students, parents, fellow teachers, administrators.

  6. I just posted a link of Twitter hashtags to the MAC Diigo Group. What? Twitter AND Diigo? It could just make someone faint with the excitement of it all. :)

  7. Hey Rachel,

    I still haven't delved into Twitter. But it has sounded appealing enough, that I intend to try it out AFTER this week. Which indicates its potential to become distracting to me.

    The idea that we have created online facets of our identities is something that scares me...just a little. I personally decided to take a loooong break from Facebook. I have been exasperated by the fact that I am frequently NOT in control of that aspect of my life. I feel like marketing ploys, the irresistible appeal of gossip, and the stalker-ish tools to which these social networking sites expose us adds a much more complicated dimension to my own identity that I'm not yet ready to daily confront.

    On a different subject...have you found that you've changed your mind about other internet tools that you may have brushed off before?