Teachers on Twitter

Good article by Josh Cohen on the Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook today, called “Teachers Take To Twitter.” Along with giving some tips for twitter usage, the key point is that twitter is building a community of teachers. Cohen cites Bill Ferriter, a 6th grade social studies teacher, succinctly:

“Searching Twitter is searching the minds of teachers. It’s collective intelligence. When you can pick the brains of 200 highly accomplished teachers, you’ll get good success.”

I set up a separate account on twitter for my teaching-related work at http://twitter.com/arnzen. I enjoy the connection with that “collective intelligence” that Ferriter mentions. It’s half faculty-lounge, half-development conference. The trick is to ‘follow’ other teachers…do searches for words like ‘pedagogy’ and connect with the most interesting ‘tweeters’ by following them. Your network will spread.

Of course, twitter can be used in the classroom, too (though I have yet to try this). Emerging Ed Tech gives six good examples. Academhack gives a great overview of its possible applications in “Twitter for Academia” (which was picked up by The Chronicle). H Songhai gives even more depth and anecdotes about it.

I can imagine setting up a specific account name on twitter for a class, with all students doing the same, and each ‘following’ each other on the site — and using these short tweets for chats, or live (if everyon has the technology in a lab, or laptop situation) as something akin to ‘clickers’ in the classroom, but with many more options and critical thinking applications than simply polling quantitative reactions.

Published by

Michael Arnzen

Professor of English, Seton Hill University.