I awoke this morning to find that I have 10,005 followers on Twitter. In the grand scheme of things that fact isn’t worth a wet paper towel but I confess it gave me a little thrill. Ten thousand – a big number. It conjured up an image of all 10,000 breathlessly awaiting my next 140 characters. But then I remembered that Kim Kardashian has 18 million followers and I came back to my senses.
What is worth pondering, however, is the new world in which we live in which educators are not alone. I well recall as a young teacher thinking that I could count on one hand the number of people I could find in the profession as equally-passionate and interested in what I was interested in. Years later, I was able to receive a grant from the Dodge Foundation for a competition to unearth and share the best curriculum units under the thought experiment “What are the 10 best ways to teach Catcher in the Rye? No one knows: that’s how isolated we are in this field.”
I have also noticed that since I devoted my Twitter feed – grantwiggins, for the interested – to the sole role of sharing interesting and potentially useful education-related articles, stories or sites by subject area, my following increased fairly quickly. By contrast, when I was just being snarky or sharing dumb personal details, the numbers barely budged.
But the real turning point in my own involvement in Twitter came when I posted a question. I asked what unheralded education books people recommended and I asked if people knew any great resources on a few technical topics. Within an hour I had over 100 useful tweets.
A few weeks ago I was asked by a follower to do a twitter book club of my new book on essential questions. We did it twice, and while the limits on characters was a bit limiting, it was surprisingly interesting, lively, and practical. It was even a little dramatic as you waited for the next tweet to pop up with either a question or a comment.
So, we’re not alone. There are like-minded, interested and interesting people out there that can now easily be found to help us have colleagues from all over the world who share our passions and desire to be better educators. That’s cool.
What new and interesting ways of working digitally have you found or experienced? Post a comment.



17 Responses

  1. My friend @ReccessDuty has proposed that educators should be able to achieve ‘verified’ status in Twitter. Also probably only worth a wet paper towel, but I know that numbers like that (10,000) will catch spammer’s attention so it is worth it for protecting people who share valuable ideas.

  2. I have to say my biggest thrill with Twitter has also come this summer. I made a personal pledge to try and figure out what all the hype was about. I have two teachers who are devotees and who tried valiantly to hook me in during the school year. I would pop in to Twitter, give it a quick scan, roll my eyes, and tell them…”sure, I was on Twitter last night…good stuff….” Having great respect for them, I made my pledge. And OMG (if you can use SNARKY in a post, I can use OMG) once I figured out hashtags, I have to say….I am HOOKED.
    What has it done for me? I suddenly have over 100 other elementary leaders (teachers, admin, coachees etc) who are my best friends, my cheerleaders, my sounding board and my critical friends. I have a few chats I stalk, and a few I participate in. I am connected to principals especially who are losing sleep as I am over starting the year; the impact of CCSS and the new assessments and just the general day to day of doing what we do. I am not an island. When I am batting an idea around in my head at crazy hours, I can typically find someone else on line doing the same thing. It is comforting and reassuring.
    I am still at the personal level of making meaning with Twitter, having barely tapped into the power. But, as we know, I have to make it personal before I can expect any impact on students.

  3. Grant, I’m so delighted to hear that you’ve found so much value in the creation of a digital, personalized learning network (PLN). I am constantly amazed and humbled by the generosity and expertise of educators on Twitter. Interacting in this space has helped me meet new friends, learn a lot, and refine my thinking. Thanks for being a valuable member of my PLN!
    And, although numbers are just numbers, rest assured that you’ve finally passed me! *wink* All is right in the world at last! 😉

    • Well, thanks to YOU I made the leap into this in a big way. Thanks so much for your cheerful, insightful, and helpful work in making us all digitally savvy.

  4. Thanks Grant. I don’t know how many times I have referred your widely read post on curriculum.
    Twitter is a great tool, if only there was a way around that number 140 every now and then.

  5. I love how you bring reality to your posts! New digital use – My teammate created a trifold with various beginning of the year information on it and we each added our own contact information in a QR program, ScanMe. My parents scanned the code with my contact information and then emailed me theirs. Saved me hours of inputing their info in my address book!

  6. This reminds me of a conversation that we had last year regarding the seemingly lack of professional reading done by my colleagues. Twitter, blogs and wikis open doors for busy professional people by narrowing their interests and focusing their resources (specifically time). I have been using twitter for about two months and have explored many new ideas and participated in a book study and helped people connect. It opens doors.

  7. I am a member of the Special Education Technology Special Interest Group – SETSIG (ISTE) and have used Google Hangouts extensively. Preparing for our UDL playground this year we used the hangouts for planning, sharing and preparing our volunteers. I’ve also participated in a “panel discussion” using Google on Air. I find seeing people a real benefit when collaborating and planning – although wearing PJs is out of the question :). I also like the ability to share my screen as well as work in a shared Google doc. I can just pop a link or diagram into the document and everyone can see what I’m talking about. This year when we present SETSIG webinars we’re going to do hangouts as our breakout sessions so people can talk about a specific topic or get detailed information and connect with like-minded educators. Exciting possibilities!

  8. I am not at all technologically inclined but did an online book study this spring and it was captivating. My experience was much the same as yours. Waiting was sometimes very difficult. As an avid follower I enjoy hearing your thoughts. I have just started your new book and am hoping it will help me help others.

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