I joined Twitter about five weeks ago (you can find me at LarryFerlazzo) and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my experience so far.
It’s been a good one.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT TWITTER:
I’ve liked the interaction and it’s given me a better sense of people – both for those who I know have been readers of this blog and those whose blogs I have been reading. It’s also been a very good place to find new resources that I’ve been able to post about here — ones that I doubt I would have found elsewhere — at least not right away.
I’ve asked for help one or two times, and was pleased to get advice and suggestions almost immediately.
Though I’ve been pretty careful about making sure that only about one-third of my “tweets” have been connected to my blog posts (mostly the “The Best…” lists), being part of Twitter has clearly helped increase readership of my blog and helped me connect to new people. The number of “hits” my blog receives and its number of subscribers had been going up steadily anyway, but they both have certainly “picked-up the pace” over the past five weeks.
I primarily post here on my blog about resources that I think are particularly useful for English Language Learners; certain other items that I think might be helpful to teachers facing similar challenges to the ones I face; and reports on policies related to what I think should be happening in our schools over the long-term.
In the course of identifying those specific resources, I find a lot of other good stuff that teachers could use. Twitter provides a vehicle through which I can easily share those types of resources.
I like that I can very quickly review “tweets” that have been sent to me, and I don’t feel like I have to read each and every one. Odds are that if I miss something really, really good, someone else has “retweeted” it, and I’ll catch it on the second or third time around.
Twitter has clearly become an important part of what many call a PLN — a Personal Learning Network.
DRAWBACKS TO TWITTER
Being an active member of Twitter does take time — both to send “tweets” and to sift through the “tweets” of others.
Even with all the positive feelings I’ve shared, it’s difficult for me to see Twitter becoming a major tool in education circles outside of those who have a special interest in educational technology. I know that no one I work with regularly uses it, and it’s difficult for me to imagine that — at least, in the foreseeable future — they would decide that it’s worth their time.
I think — technologically and professional development-wise — most of these teachers would get a “bigger bang for their buck” by reading lengthier pieces in blogs that would be more thoughtful and reflective, and that kind of activity is more within their experience of reading articles. I know that Sue Waters recommends that people give Twitter at least a month, and I believe that there is just too much info and too much sifting that needs to be done through “tweets” for most of these teachers to get the initial positive reinforcement necessary for them to stick with something radically new like Twitter.
In my community organizing career, we always kept in mind the importance of starting-off organizing activity by beginning within the experience of our constituency, and, since I’m interested in helping make transformative change in the way our schools operate, I think that organizing methodology makes sense — that’s why I write blogs, magazine articles and books; and why I am beginning to lead more workshops and participate in teacher groups where I’m not just “preaching to the converted” about my view of “progressive education.”
In addition, reflecting on my Twitter experience has also gotten me thinking about another organizing adage — the importance of “going to where the people are.” In terms of using technology to connect with more teachers, this thought has led me to start thinking more about the potential use of Facebook as another organizing tool. Though, as far as I can tell, no other teachers at my school use Twitter or even an RSS Reader for blogs, many — and not just the ones right out of college — have Facebook pages. I’d lay odds that this mirrors the situation at a lot of other schools, too.
I personally have next-to-no experience with Facebook, and hope to explore it, and its organizing potential, in the near future.
RESOURCES FOR THOSE CONSIDERING GIVING TWITTER A TRY:
For those of you who are considering joining Twitter, here are some resources you might find helpful: