A Reappropriation of Twitter

Twitter: Professional Development

Twittybacking in the snow?

Key Features

Teachers are recognizing Twitter, a socio-cultural tool, can be beneficial integrated into their informal professional development (P.D). From mediating conversations and collaborations to status updates, from a repository of links to group collaboration, society interacts and constructs using 140-characters or less. One technique is to follow a line of inquiry through Twittybacking (Yates, 2011, 24 April) and learn more about a particular subject or topic. By clicking through, teachers can understand the chain of thought and develop a deeper understanding. Twittybacking can be conducted with content, clicking hyperlinks, and interaction, following tweeters.

To examine the potential of Twitter, I conducted action research in which I immersed myself and participated in Twitter chat sessions (#langchat and #eltchat) using TweetDeck. Normally Twitter is asynchronous with varied amounts of time between tweets but Twitter chats are quick, chaotic, and synchronous as all participants tweet and essentially compete with each other for the attention span of other users. Hayles (2008) argues that social media sparks our hyper attention instead of deep attention and teachers must be aware of this when implementing. The concept of twittybacking still applies to Twitter chats as a thought-provoking tweet can be built on and developed collaboratively thereby constructing meaning within the Twitter chat context.

Potential & Recommendation

Costello (2009) lightly refers to connectivism in his treatment of Twitter. I observed principles  of connectivism learning through the connection of information sources through diverse opinions (Siemans, 2004). All Tweeters approached the same topic from a different angle and I developed a personal understanding from the connections I made cognitively.

Engagement with online content through Twitter is a conceptual shift in the way teachers view information and knowledge (Alvermann, 2008). It requires a mobility to laterally move through hypertextual content, in often multimodal formats, reading globally and applying locally, or vice-versa (Luke, 2003). In this scope, there is a question of digital fluency, knowledge of the technology, how to consume and produce content with it and maximising its potential (Resnick, 2004). Teachers should assess themselves and seek guidance in the supportive social space of Twitter communities.

Essentially, this is a strong P.D recommendation for those seeking empowerment through investment in their human capital, the benefits stemming from one’s knowledge or abilities (Becker, 2008), to generate socio-economic opportunities and growth. With Twitter, teachers use 140-characters in a powerful way to connect with other teachers around the globe intellectually, cognitively and emotionally (Wheeler, 2010). Connections, collaborations and constructions can be made to build a teacher’s P.D. Within a socio-constructivist setting, teachers must be proactive to turn this tool’s mode from a passive to active to work towards their P.D.

Alvermann, D. E. (2008). Why bother theorizing adolescents’ online literacies for classroom practice and research? Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52(1), 8-19.

Becker, G. (2008). Human Capital. Retrieved September 12, 2011 from http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/HumanCapital.html

Costello, E. (2009, 27-28 August). Teaching and Participatory Media. Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference of the All-Ireland Society for Higher Education, Maynooth, Ireland.

Hayles, K. (2008, January 17). My article on hyper and deep attention.   Retrieved September 01, 2011, from http://media08.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/my-article-on-hyper-and-deep-attention/

Luke, C. (2003). Pedagogy, Connectivity, Multimodality, and Interdisciplinarity. Reading Research Quarterly, 38(3), 397-403.

Siemans, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Theory of Learning for the Digital Age.   Retrieved April 01, 2011, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Wheeler, S. (2010, April 3). Why Twitter is so powerful.   Retrieved September 1,, 2011, from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-twitter-is-so-powerful.html

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