Monday, June 20, 2011

Teachers and Twitter

Twitter has been in the news lately as a technology which can be rife with risk when used by those with weaknesses in impulse control and poor judgment. So we were glad to see that this ubiquitous tool for brief messages has been put to good use by Philadelphia area teachers.

As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Twitter use by area teachers includes a weekly chat by English teacher Menoo Rami that connects participants from around the country discussing topics relating to English education (on Mondays at 7 p.m. at #engchat). Another Philadelphia teacher Twitter chat happens Tuesdays at noon (all times here are Eastern) at #edchat.

The Inquirer article quotes Renee Hobbs, a Professor at Temple University, who notes that the 140 character limit and the hashtag (#) search feature make Twitter particularly helpful for teachers, who often want to check on an idea or subject quickly between their classes. Teachers note that they can use Twitter all the time, as opposed to the very limited networking they have traditionally done at conferences. They note that information from conferences and the other educators they meet there generally don't continue to be part of their professional lives once the conference is over. Twitter connections are constantly updated, and the information provided by colleagues on Twitter continues to evolve.

Other teachers are using Twitter as a way to connect their students to their curriculum, such as the kindergarten teacher in a New Jersey school who reached out through Twitter and was able to contact farmers who answered questions from his students. As one teacher who has used Twitter to link her fourth grade geography students with students around the world noted, "The world becomes a much smaller place."

One hashtag dialog we frequently look in on is #spedchat, which focuses on special education issues in education. If you have ideas on other hashtags of interest to our work or our readers, please leave a comment.

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