All school staff benefit from engagement with continuing professional development (CPD) – keeping up to date in their subject and curriculum area, and in teaching approaches and methods. Web and mobile based technologies have changed the landscape for school staff in terms of how they can connect to other educators both locally and across the globe. Personal learning networks (PLN), developed and managed by educators, allow school staff to discover, discuss and share relevant ideas, resources and approaches.
Twitter is jam packed with educators from all over the country and world, who are interested in sharing with and learning from colleagues. I ran two Twitter for Educators CPD sessions in March, designed to support staff in using Twitter in developing their professional networks. The workshops support work around the DigiLit Leicester project sixth framework strand – Technology supported Professional Development, and were designed to help staff improve their confidence and skills in this area.
Two sessions were held at De Montfort University: a beginner workshop, aimed to get staff up and running with Twitter and to introduce the basics and an intermediate workshop, offering essential tips and tools for improving the Twitter experience.
Create your Twitter Presence
This session was aimed at absolute beginners and assumed no prior use of Twitter. Staff were walked through the sign up process and introduced to the basics: creating a username, choosing an avatar (profile picture) and writing a 160 character biography. The interface and functionality of the site were explored through a desktop tour.
Understanding the component parts of a tweet is important for beginners wanting to get to grips with the service. This Twitter basics worksheet (word) was created to help staff identify and become familiar with the key conventions used in tweets.
Twitter tips focused on the use of Twitter as an educator, and issues relating to online behaviour and identity for educators. These include advice about connecting to and communication with students, parents and carers, and validity checking information before retweeting.
Developing your Personal Learning Networks (PLN) on Twitter
The second session was designed for staff who are familiar with Twitter basics and already have profiles. This session focused on engaging with school communities on Twitter and using the site to establish and develop personal learning networks.
This session included a discussion about tools and approaches to help staff manage and work with Twitter: goo.gl – Google’s URL shorting service which provides users with useful, basic engagement measures, a review of mobile and desk-based clients, and sites for saving and sharing useful tweets.We also reviewed Twitter user info using this Twitter network building worksheet (word).
- You can see an example of using Storify to collect and curate tweets here (the tweets are from the recent DigiLit Leicester TeachMeet)
- The Teacher’s Guide to Twitter – from @Edudemic