[This post is re-posted here through the kind generosity of John Pfordresher, whose excellent blog, Observing the Class, can be found here.]
There are a myriad of ways to get professional development (PD). The advent of new technologies is constantly increasing those possibilities and the size of the communities that can participate.
One method of PD I find particularly difficult to participate in is a Twitter chat. Now, I am still relatively new to Twitter, joining early this year, and have found it an instrumental resource for PD. This being so I can understand and see the how benefits directed chats, through Twitter, amongst a large group of educators could be enormously helpful.
However, every time I am on and ready to participate I find myself muted (which for those who know me, is an unusual circumstance). There are a number of problems.
- It goes so fast! I will be watching everyone and see something interesting I would like to comment on, but by the time I formulate a response within the constraints of Twitter (140 characters) I look up and the conversation has passed me by and everyone is onto a new topic. So I delete my comment and begin to “lurk” again.
- It can be severely disjointed. With a large group of people talking in a room, there is a bit more cohesion in the discussion and it is much easier for participants to navigate the contributions from participants. On twitter, everything is visual and can become overwhelming when trying to follow the conversation as one might in the “real” world.
- It’s short. Only an hour, and after the flurry of activity an uninitiated one, such as myself, can come away a little shell shocked. Grateful for all the information, opinions, and resources, but also a little “at a loss” with what to do with it all. How to organize it into a manageable manner that I can use for myself and my teaching.
Here I will admit, that so far, I have allowed these issues to dissuade me from joining on a regular basis. They have most certainly kept me from contributing. And that frustrates me, because I like to have my voice heard. I believe everyones voice being HEARD is exactly what the community is for, and why it is such an instrumental tool in improving ourselves and each other.
For all you other newbies like me, don’t give up just yet! After conversations with a number of regular contributors I have come to understand the forum of the Twitter chat a bit better. It is, for sure, still a bit daunting, but try and remember this.
- A twitter chat is moderated. It is the moderators job to make sure that all the voices that should be heard are heard. It is the moderator who will recognize your comment, and even though it may not fit with what is on the screen that moment, he/she will make sure you are heard.
- Don’t back down. If the moderator misses your comment, but you think it is a valuable addition, speak out again. Let it be known that you feel something is missing from the debate.
- Read the recap! Kelt chat, in particular, always has a write up the next day (or within a reasonable span of time) of the pertinent topics, big points made, and a list of resources thrown out throughout the hour. If you do not catch everything the minute it pops up, you will have a chance to gather it all at your own pace here.
I know this can be an invaluable forum for PD. I am going to keep trying, and I know that , just as with Twitter before it, I will become more comfortable with how to navigate it and use it in an immensely positive way. Won’t you join me?
(PS- After completing KELTchat this evening (10/7/2012) I realized something else for the first time. Watching the tweets fly in I saw that in reality, it was a long list of many individual conversations. Many pairs or small groups have conversations all at the same time. This can be overwhelming if one expects to respond to everyone. However, between the moderator, and retweets, it is fairly easy to catch all the main points, and carry your own conversation. Something to keep in mind for the inexperienced – MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU)