Twitter addict confession

Why am I addicted to Twitter? It’s not the links. They’re great, but I love the conversations…
I can control my use of Twitter. Really I can. But last night was an example of how powerful of a conversation tool it is to me.

First, I watched an interesting discussion that Jon Becker (professor at VCU) had with plugusin (teacher in North Carlina) over the “validity” of a survey that plugusin created and used. Now I was not very interested in the survey itself, but in the discussion of what makes something “valid.” I would have to say that I sided with plugusin as far as twitter and social networking giving voice to teachers working in the field vs. professors writing for peer-reviews journals.But I must confess I am not an expert on what makes something “valid” so when Sylvia Martinez (a leading educator from LA) asked Jon to explain this more I joined the conversation and asked too. Jon patiently answered our questions. The thing I know and respect about Dr. Jon is that he is not condescending or narrow-minded about the equalizing power of social media. 

Meanwhile Jane Vanhof (choir and ELA teacher from my school!) and Ira Socol ( from Michigan, too) joined the conversation too. The end result is that Jon Becker decided to do a session on “What makes a survey valid” open to anyone who wants to join in (Here is the signup for time).

At the same time I was asking questions of some experts from my PLN about educational history (Teaser: stay tuned over break for some posts about grading) including Ira, Shelly Blake-Plock (Maryland Latin and history teacher), and Andrew Watt (classical history teacher in Connecticut). During this multitude of conversations Tomaz Lasic (an excellent teacher from Australia) tweeted to Ira and asked him to quick Skype into his class that was in session. Ira did and re-joined our conversation a few minutes later.

Wow! There is no way this is possible ten years ago. I would have to enroll at VCU and sign up and PAY to learn from Jon Becker. I would still not be able to attend faculty meetings with him, which is what it feels like as I “watch” conversations he has will leading educators from around the world. I have personally met only two of these people (Jane and Ira about two weeks ago) but yet I can learn from them anytime, anywhere around the world. And added onto it  is the ability for Ira to off-the-cuff join into a classroom discussion on the other side of the world at a moment’s notice.

I have never been so motivated and excited about my own learning. And I am working out methods to share this with the other teachers and the students in my building. I am truly amazed at the knowledge and GENEROSITY of the people in my PLN. It really is about the conversations and the giving. Thanks to all in my PLN, and of course I would highly recommend following all of the educators mentioned here.

Why am I addicted to Twitter? It’s not the links. They’re great (especially the ones to thought-provoking blog posts), but I love the conversations …
                                                               with some of the greatest minds in the world.

5 thoughts on “Twitter addict confession

  1. Hadley Ferguson

    I totally agree. I love the links and have used many of the ones that I have found, but it is the conversation that brings me back That and the friendships that develop as we share ideas. Like you, my PLN has become my most valuable resource and learning tool. I start to follow a conversation, often about topics that I only slightly care about, but as I listen, I become interested and I learn.

    Does it qualify as an addiction when you check in multiple times a day, arrange your day to follow two #edchats on a Tuesday, and look for other conversation strands that are as interesting? Not sure I want to know the answer. Definitely not willing to seek a cure!

  2. Meredith (@msstewart)

    I think it’s telling these kinds of stories that will help other educators begin to understand the power of Twitter. It’s often difficult to explain the concept of Twitter and I find that recounting specific times Twitter has helped me connect, answer a question, or provide a resource makes the idea more accessible to people. Even after people understand the power of it, it still takes the time and willingness to make those connections to make the most of Twitter.
    -A fellow Twitter addict

  3. concretekax

    Thanks Hadley and Meredith and I agree relationships that you build on-line are what make the conversations meaningful.

    As a further note on this story Jane Vanhof and I had a great discussion at school about this and she really experienced for the first time the power of twitter. She is hooked!

  4. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Michael,

    First, glad you found my blog yesterday! I’ve always wanted to get my Tweetstream running in the sidebar so that people could make the connection between me and @plugusin, but I’ve never had the time.

    Second, glad that you’ve been enjoying the conversation on Twitter. It’s definitely the first differentiated professional development that I’ve ever had. After all, I can choose who to follow, which strands to pursue, which blog posts to explore. I’m in control of the information that comes through my Tweet stream, and that’s nice.

    A bit of an interesting pushback, though: I’m not sure that I’d use the word “generosity” to describe my own participation in Twitter! Here’s why:

    Generosity implies a powerful/powerless relationship, doesn’t it? The person who is being generous has something that others need, and there is rarely any reciprocity in the relationship. When I give to the homeless or to entreprenuers in the developing world, I’m not expecting them to give back.

    But in Twitter, I get at least as much as I give in the form of pushback that helps me to polish my thinking and refine my original positions.

    I didn’t have my conversation with Jon Becker publicly on Twitter simply because I wanted other people to learn from me. I had it publicly on Twitter because I wanted other people to point out the flaws in my thinking and give me new ideas to consider.

    That’s the real secret that Twitter addicts don’t share very often: I’m not posting to be generous. In fact, in a lot of ways, my participation is selfish! When I can get others to react to my ideas, I learn. And that learning only makes me stronger because I can refine my thinking based on points I hadn’t considered.

    The relationship between you and I—or between one’s Twitter followers and himself—is probably best described as symbiotic: We are both growing stronger because of the intellectual connections between one another.

    Any of this make sense? I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t cheapen yourself! Your contributions are as valuable as anyone elses!


    PS….Your concrete counters are awesome!

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