I’m pleased to see so many educators using Twitter to share ideas, resources, and best practices with one another. Too many educators (teachers and admins) never have any professional conversations other than a handful of chats within their own school each week. Social media enables connections with other educators all over the world. Twitter is a great tool to get that connectivity started (some call it a gateway social medium), but to truly make an impact on your practice, take it a step further to deepen your knowledge of a particular topic or to strengthen your relationship with people who share resources online.
This is not a knock on Twitter at all. It is a service that has done incredible things for education with messages limited to 140 characters. For me, Twitter is too shallow and disjointed to really get to know and understand a person or a topic at any meaningful depth. I always like to think in analogies, so here is my attempt at explaining my point for this post. Trying to understand a person or topic thru Twitter would be like if a book was written on thousands of individual post-it notes and then those notes were scattered somewhat randomly around the book store. If you look hard enough, and if the notes haven’t fallen to the ground, you can pull all these together for a reasonable understanding of the person or subject.
To really understand a person’s or organization’s stance on learning, take a look at what they share on their blog or website. If you like what someone shares on Twitter, then find their blog and subscribe to it. I user Google Reader to keep track the blogs that I like to read, but there are other services that do the same thing. If you really dig a post, make sure you leave a comment and then share the post with a tweet of your own. I subscribe to a few dozen blogs, but the ones that really get me thinking are Brad Saron’s Cognitive Interfund Transfer, the Paper Grader’s blog, and elearnspace from George Siemens.
One of my favorite ways to really dive into a topic or understand a great thinker in education is to listen to podcasts. There are many educational podcasts out there, but here are a few that I follow: TeacherCast, Eduleadership Radio, and Ted Talks. Rather than only listening to countless hours of NPR or ESPN Radio in my car, I frequently play these on my iPhone while traveling back and forth to work. My absolute favorite podcast is Shifted Learning from John Pederson and Julia Fallon. (Yes, John and Julia, it’s official. I’m stalking you.) Their interview subjects and topics are really engrossing and the issues they address really start you thinking about different ways to view the world of education and technology. Another analogy for you: listening to John and Julia’s talks with their guests is like eavesdropping on a fascinating conversation among friends at a bar or coffee shop.They both have a great sense of humor and the technical production of the show is very good (some podcasts out there sound like they were recorded on a CB radio).
Thanks for reading this and please make some time to check out the blogs and podcasts of all the motivated educators out there on the interwebs.