Another dot in the blogosphere?

Twitter for PD

Posted on: June 18, 2015

People who do not think that Twitter can provide opportunities for teacher professional development (PD) have not stayed long enough, are not following the right people, or are not monitoring the right #hashtags.

A tweet like this one provokes thought.

The standard worksheet approach is what teachers have been weaned on and are comfortable with. Breaking out of that mould is difficult and seems counterintuitive. This is often why technology is used poorly and irresponsibly; it is used as a substitute for what can already be done without it.

Ask teachers what educational theories support the use of worksheets and they will likely struggle to answer with conviction. Ask them to explain “spaced practice” and suggest a logical way to implement it and quite a few will not be able to do so.

Likewise ask teachers, administrators, or leaders to think outside the normal PD box and you will hear the same excuses for doing what was done before. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Being face-to-face provides immediacy.

The problem with those excuses is that delivery-based teaching in one place and at one pace is no longer good enough. It is losing relevance in the workplace and the worker of today already cannot sit, much less stand, for it.

People often confuse immediacy with social context. When face-to-face, you can get a more immediate reply (whether such a reply is reflective or thorough is another matter). But being there in person does not make it a social experience, especially if the PD is designed so that one struggles alone.

On the other hand, #hashtagged chats can come alive with ideas and discussion. They might seem chaotic to the uninitiated, but spend enough time there and use tools like TweetDeck to silo topics and conversations, or Storify to clarify messages, and you start to see what modern teacher PD should look like.

If you do not believe me, see what a collection of teachers discussed on Twitter about this very topic a few days ago. I have compiled their tweets in Storify. This is the PDF version of the discussion.

Twitter is a viable method for teacher PD. It might start with a tweet that questions belief systems which then seeds conversations and prompts reflection. Such PD is self-organizing and allows teachers to find the PD that suits them based on time, place, and readiness.

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