Twitter as Continual Professional DevelopmentDavid Bozetarnik
Tweet, tweet, tweet!
Travel the world and meet new and interesting people! Is this the Peace Corps? College Semester Abroad? The diplomatic corps? No, it’s Twitter, where the world comes to you online, 140 characters at a time. While it has many uses, I find it particularly helpful in the area of continual professional development.
Who is it for?
Twitter is not a replacement for other forms of CPD, but it is a strong supplement, whether you are an English teacher, Maths/Engineering professor, or even a special-needs counselor. Need a lesson plan idea? Want to get a second opinion (or third, or fourth…etc.) on something you’d like to try, or for something you tried but it didn’t work? What is trending in your specific field? Like a good neighbour, Twitter is there. Even if not everyone uses it, most everybody knows of this micro-blogging service. I first started tweeting four years ago, and it has become one of my main sources of outside-of-work continual professional development. How can you use Twitter for CPD? Here’s how I use it.
Follow the experts!
There are two main ways it works for me. First, I follow people whom I respect in the EFL, edtech and education fields. I not only follow them, but I check to see whom they follow in turn, and I follow them. For example, I follow Scott Thornbury (@thornburyscott) and Jim Scrivener (@jimscriv). Also, as online teaching is growing in prominence almost daily, I also follow prominent online personalities like Jack Askew (@eslonlinejack) to keep abreast of non-F2F teaching and learning. Additionally, as I am a frequent user of apps/software like Kahoot!, Socrative and Quizlet, I follow those too. Just type in anyone or any company you’re interested in, and you’ll find them.
Hashtags, my dear Watson!
In addition to individual people and companies, I also keep up on the latest trends, hardware/software and overall developments in the EFL/education fields. These search terms are prefaced by a hashtag(#) symbol, to make it easy to track. If you want to search for any news about IATEFL, just type in #iatefl and you’ll find it. Alternatively, let’s say you want to find anything about Scott Thornbury, and not just his own tweets. There are many hashtags you could use in your search; one is #Scott_Thornbury. Similarly, you could just type in the person’s name. After March’s TESOL Arabia, I couldn’t find Adrian Underhill’s Twitter handle, so I just typed in his name and found a plethora of information about, and links to, his work.
Don’t just lurk in the shadows
Finally, get out there and tweet, too. Everyone has something to share, whether that is a review on a particular app/website/technique, your own research findings, or even just re-tweeting something you found helpful from someone else.
To conclude, Twitter is very useful for keeping track of the people and topics that matter most to you. Through following @Quizlet, for example, I found out about their Quizlet Live function. I tried it in my classes, and it made students’ vocabulary revision much more enjoyable. I don’t always have time for Twitter, but it is always there when I need it.
A starter-kit of who & what to follow in education
- Hashtag links for education (various categories): http://www.teachthought.com/twitter-hashtags-for-teacher/
- Top people to follow in education (various areas): http://burcuakyol.com/?p=87