Thursday, July 10, 2014

Twitter and Digital Substance


Many of my colleagues and students have said, "I don't get this Twitter thing." I have heard Twitter described as a modern day equivalent of chats around the water cooler. The Twitter experience can be unique to each user. For instance, I tend to use Twitter as a search engine, for social bookmarking, for considering global perspective, for establishing voice, for relationship building, and for staying engaged in my personal learning. 



Tom Whitby, one of my favorite bloggers, often says what I am thinking using better phrasing than my limited vocabulary can express. In his most recent post, ISTE14 Impressions, Tom persuasively describes the value of being a connected educator in order to maximize the conference experience. Sarah Hutas commented on this post by highlighting the value of becoming more connected, but she was still looking to gain a better understanding of Twitter as a tool for socially networked learning. "Where is the substance?", she asks.

Tom's insightful reply...

"It is difficult to get a great deal of substance into 140 characters. Tweets are great for guiding people to substance. It also creates a great many collegial sources, people who you can call on for answers or direction. Twitter enables you to be aware of that which you do not yet know and offers you places to direct your learning so that you will know."

"Are teachers who are not yet understanding the value of connecting through Twitter the same people who have yet to build out digital substance?"






Could it be that some educators feel hesitant or apprehensive about learning with Twitter because they are in the early stages of establishing their digital presence. Is it that those stuck in an analog existence have less to offer on the digitized playground? Is this the time capsule teaching that Tom Whitby describes in his recent post?






During today's class, I asked my socially networked friend and colleague, Jordan Catapano, if my theory held any water. He said, "Teachers need to just jump in with both feet and make a commitment to learning with others online." Relatively speaking, my indoctrination into socially networked learning was more like tip-toe steps into the shallow end of the pool. 

My level of enjoyment, along with my ability to contribute to connected learning has grown with my increased ability to curate, create, and share digital resources. After two unsuccessful attempts, I now recognize, after this most recent three-year commitment to Twitter, a growing substance to my tweets. This increase in substance has run parallel to the growth of my digital footprint, and the expansion of my personal learning network. Maybe it simply boils down to mastery and confidence. We are more likely to toss more chips to the middle of the poker table when we have a few more stacked in our favor.



Who is better able to tell your story than you? Where are the archives and mementos of your learning? As our lives emigrate from the analog world to the digital, what steps are you taking to preserve your legacy of learning? By becoming digital storytellers, aren't we creating the substance that nudges more of us deeper into the waters of socially networked, personal learning?



Related Resources


The Teacher's Guide to Twitter - Edudemic

School-Wide Twitter Chats - Edutopia, Stephen Baker

Twitter For Teachers - Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything



photo credit: quapan via photopin cc

2 comments:

Joy Kirr said...

No comments yet? Well, I like to think of teachers starting Twitter just like kids starting something new... Remember Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)? I think teachers begin Twitter - jumping in or toes first - when they are ready. If we think back to when we started, we didn't "get it" right away, either. I signed up, played, then put it away for 6 months until someone suggested following a hashtag at a workshop. I think we need to keep sharing the value of the connections - because that's where it's at... :) Thank you for sharing, Bob! ~Joy

Robert Schuetz said...

Thank you Joy. I admire your positive, collaborative spirit. Sounds like our experiences are similar. So naturally, I agree with you. I think the connected educator movement is growing, but I hate seeing people left out of a good thing. My impatience I suppose. I hope others with follow your lead and join our conversation. Thanks again for connecting and sharing.