In our first EC&I class two weeks ago, it was noted that throughout the course, we should use Twitter consistently and effectively as a source for the development of professional relationships. I, as a self-noted social media rookie, did not previously have an account, and made one that evening. Ever since then, I have been thoroughly intimidated. People seem to be able to hashtag without a problem and synthesize their thinking cleverly into 140 characters or less, all the while referencing, quoting or mentioning others with seemingly similar Twitter abilities. The fact that I was so new, and everyone else seemed so well-adapted to such an environment, caused worry and anxiety from day one.
Then I read Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and learning 2.0 by John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler. In summary, this article details the changes our society has seen with the surge of technology, social learning, and the Internet, as well as how slow our education system has been to keep up with these changes. The authors note that ‘learning about’ things is no longer sufficient to real-life world preparation; students must now ‘learn to be’. Our world is forever changing, with continual new and exciting knowledge being added. We can no longer study subjects and facts and expect that to be the up-to-date information. Information changes all the time, and we have to develop the skills to be ready for these changes.
Then it clicked: I was not prepared for the rush of new knowledge that is constantly acquired on Twitter. It is constantly being updated with new information, ideas, and concepts. I was intimidated, when instead I should have been fascinated.
So I changed my mindset. I read The Twitterholic’s Ultimate Guide to Tweets, Hashtags, and All Things Twitter. Sue Waters’ (the author) tips on engaging conversations and who to follow were my main areas of focus on how and where to begin. For example, she suggested a mentor. I asked my brother who, like me, is a social media rookie, with the exception of Twitter. He loves Twitter. So he can grasp my misunderstandings in the realm of social media, yet can tell me things I should know about Twitter. So we chatted. His advice that stuck: if I don’t know what to say, I should start by re-tweeting what other people have put out there. When I get used to the format and the use of Twitter, than I could Tweet my own ideas. It’s been working well so far! I put into play other aspects of Sue Waters’ suggestions, such as incorporating a picture and biography (as this is what makes people want to follow me, instead of a blank page), as well as starting out by following well-known Twitter accounts that I find interesting.
Content with my new Twitter account, picture, and re-tweets, I began to write this reflection. Then we had our third class this past Tuesday, when we participated in a Twitter Chat. Am I ever glad I had not posted my reflection! What a new experience this Twitter Chat was for me! (Unsure of what a Twitter Chat is? Visit here for an introductory explanation of what it is, how to join or develop one, and tools you can use to help you along your journey. If you are particularly interested in Education Chats such as myself, find one that suits your interest in the Education Chat Calendar). All the learning, idea sharing, and rich conversations that can erupt from these chats is mind-blowing; it truly makes me wonder why I had not joined Twitter previously. From this first e-chat, I had so many more questions that permeated my thoughts and teaching. It made me reflect even further on Michael Wesch’s From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able TedTalk (a must-see for all educators), which brought about the idea of ‘good questions’. He spoke of students’ most prominent questions; and example ‘how much is this worth’. These should not be the questions students ask; their questions should be interest-filled, engaging, and thought-provoking. So should mine. I will never stop learning (and I can’t if I want to continue to grow and live in our society, as per John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler), and my questions should never stop being engaging and pertinent to my interests either.
So although I am still a complete rookie, I am excited for Twitter. I am excited for Twitter Chats. I am excited to have a positive environment that can push me to learn more and delve deeper into my professional field. I may not yet be a Twitterholic, but I certainly am starting to become a Twitterfan.