Using Twitter to Learn about Teaching
You may have heard of the micro-blogging service Twitter as a way to share what you had for breakfast or to hear the latest news from celebrities like Ashton Kutcher. Those kinds of things happen on Twitter, but Twitter is also a great way to expand your personal learning network—the people and resources you use to engage in continuing, informal professional development. For those of us involved in university teaching, learning about other instructors’ experiences can be a useful source of input as we refine our own teaching practices.
Here are some ways you might use Twitter to hear about interesting approaches to teaching or keep up with higher education news and trends:
- Follow the Center for Teaching. We use our Twitter account to share CFT news and links to useful teaching resources and articles. Teaching centers at other universities with active Twitter accounts include those at Northwestern University, Georgetown University, and the University of Georgia. (We’re not the only Vanderbilt organization on Twitter! Official Vanderbilt Twitter feeds include those from the Commons, the Hustler, the Heard Library, and Peabody College.)
- Follow Twitter users who share links to interesting articles, resources, and blog posts on topics of interest to you. These users often act like filters for the Web, scanning lots of websites and sharing the best of what they find on Twitter. For instance, if you’re interested in educational technology, try user @m_scott. Media and education? Follow @sidneyeve. College and university teaching? DePaul University’s teaching center, @DPUTC, finds great articles.
- Want to attend a particular conference, but can’t? At many conferences, participants set up ad hoc “backchannel” conversations using Twitter. These conversation are organized using a hashtag, a keyword designated for the conference that makes it easy to search for conference-related tweets. Recent examples include the 2010 EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative conference (#eli2010), the 2009 Modern Language Association conference (#MLA09), and the 2010 Joint Mathematics Meeting (#jointmath), all of which included sessions (and tweets) about teaching.
- Twitter can also be a useful resource when you need a little help. If you “tweet” regularly, you’ll soon have a number of “followers,” other Twitter users who receive your updates when they login to Twitter. Looking for an article on a particular teaching method or need an example of something for a class? Post your inquiry to Twitter, and you’ll probably receive an idea or suggestion from someone following you. Here’s a story of how I found a great resource for a workshop by querying my Twitter network.