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“Twitter is not a technology. It’s a conversation. And it’s happening with or without you.”          @charleneli

 Not only is Twitter a conversation, it is a global conversation where people—with common interests—come together to exchange information in 140 characters or less.  The fact that the conversations are short does not mean that they are not powerful. The bits and pieces offered like hors d’oeuvres can take you anywhere and nowhere. They are what you make them. They are bits and pieces of brain candy. I do not know about you, but I like feeding my brain.

Four years ago I joined the Twitterverse. I think my moniker @kedreaming gives that fact away. Back then you were encouraged to be anonymous to protect your digital footprint. I laugh at that now; unfortunately, I am stuck with this “name” that makes no sense. Despite the handle, I am glad that I signed up. Every morning I faithfully check my feed. I want to know what is on tap for the day. For me, Twitter is a menu, and I pick and choose what I want to follow up on. That ability to choose freely is its major selling feature! I also like the fact that I do not know where each click will lead me. Perhaps I will hear a new voice in the crowd. Perhaps I will learn about a new educational tech tool. Perhaps I will read a new story before it breaks elsewhere.  I like living in the world of “perhaps”.

Although you do not always know where Twitter will take you—freewill is like that—you might be surprised how often it does take you where you need to go without you even realizing it. The other night I was scrolling through TweetDeck looking to add new hashtags (as part of an assignment for EdTech 543) when I came across a TTT#364 a live chat about YouthVoices. I arrived late to the chat so I did not sign in … what struck home is  the fact that this group of teachers came together on their own time to talk about how they use Youth Voices in their classrooms. Now this kind of professional development makes sense to me: teachers talking to teachers on their own terms. Brilliant. Once the conversation was done, it was published on YouTube for those who could not participate; or for those of us who could not make it on time! Brilliant. In a half hour (okay, it could have been more) not only had I found new hashtags I also witnessed my first live chat.

More importantly, I learned that a Twitter user has to be picky. Although I found (or they found me) new hashtags to follow, I did not stick with all of them. I test drove a few that night and the next, then I swapped some of them out for ones that proved more worthwhile—based on my interests or needs. In the end I added: #tlchat, #libchat, #engchat, #edtech, #edchat.

New hashtag pic

My TweetDeck feed.

I expect my new hastags to meet my varying needs as a librarian, English teacher, and technology integrationist. If they do not meet my expectations, I will move on.

Luckily, in a short amount of time, I found fresh voices, sources, ideas, resources, perspectives, and tools. I like this varied menu. I like this new kind of professional development. Twitter can feed my brain anytime.

More importantly, my brain also learned that you cannot hoard your Twitter findings, you must share them! Like @ariannahuff said, “It’s not just about consuming content, but sharing it, passing it on, and adding to it.”  And in that vein …

Here are a few of my discoveries:

  • #engchat shared Writing 101 on Pinterest. This site has resources for K-12 teachers and student writers. The visual menu lets you choose what you want.
  • #tlchat sourced a new teaching tool, blendspace, which allows educators to create a “media filled” lesson in under 5 minutes (the #tlchat link also included a video tutorial on how to use the tool); the hastag also provided a calendar of live chats for teacher librarians, via the TL Virtual Cafe.  I know what I will be doing Monday night @ 6:00 pm.
  • #edtech highlighted a Remind 101 tutorial for teachers; the video (created using PowToon)is very persuasive! The strange thing about this is that I found the video shortly after I signed up for Remind 101 for our schools’ Ready Reader Program. When I signed up, I was not completely sold on the tool. The video changed my mind!

Now I wonder where Twitter will take you and your hungry mind?