Until September 2012, my experience of Twitter went something like this;
“Have just finished hanging nappies on line. Time for tea. Winky face.”
“1D tickets for my birthday! OMG!!! Totes #AWESOME! Best parents eva @mum&dad.”
“Btwn u & me desp 4 #followers.Pls retweet #ff #fb #somerandomhastag. @theentireglobalpopulation.Thx”
… and here in Australia we endured a week long news story about a minor celebrity who had been hounded into a mental health unit by some despicable trolls to whom she’d made the mistake of responding. Frankly, I believed the ‘Twitterverse’ was populated by ‘twits’ contributing banality (or cruelty) to a crowded ‘Twittersphere’.
And then my friend Anne came over.
We were talking education, as we do, and I was lamenting the current preoccupation with summative assessment when deep learning often happens in the formative. I was grappling with the idea of finding valid ways to measure that.
“I think I’m going to write a paper. I think I’ll send it to [insert a range of educational bodies]. Something has to be done!”
Her response? “Don’t. No-one will read it. Start a blog.”
She introduced me to a news aggregator and then talked a bit about Twitter and the educational community that exists there. When she left, I went to my defunct Twitter account, stared blankly at my egghead, my mainly family followers and the blue bird thinking, “I really don’t get this”.
My husband tweeted ‘Welcome’ and Miss 16 tweeted something obnoxious (that I accidentally ‘favourited’) to which I responded ‘Well at least I’m trying!’. And I was. Over the next hour, both teenagers gave me a crash course in the use of hastags (LOL Mum just made a super long hashtag & used punctuation #facepalm), explained why I should put a * before @ and showed me how to ‘discover’ chats.
This is what has happened since.
1. I have met and talked to some extraordinary educators nationally and internationally. They have actually cared to answer my questions and surprisingly, have asked a few of me.
2. I have discovered a world of creative, informative, relevant blogs and websites that feed me intellectually and challenge my preconceived ideas
3. I have experienced the buzz of live chats (likened by someone, somewhere, to ‘drinking from a fire hydrant’) that have caused me to think very deeply… and sometimes for days afterwards
4. I have read several outstanding books I did not previously know about
5. I am finding my voice because I am encouraged to share my ideas
When I look back over these past 4 months I recognise I have been blessed to encounter only positive, encouraging people (the education community is like this). I realise I have been on an extraordinary learning journey… and that I have been a terrible snob. In my thinking at least, my responses to what I had previously labelled banal would now be a bit different.
To the nappy hanging tweeter: while I might not follow you because I’m not using Twitter for the same reasons as you, thank you for sharing your day with me and I hope your tea was nice. When ‘junior’ starts school, let’s chat.
To the 1D fan: You’re welcome. Shucks. I feel loved. Will try to use less punctuation in future #soz
To @Desperate4Follows: Join a chat, follow an interesting person, share your great idea… give me a reason to follow you and I just might.
And to those who have chatted, followed, retweeted, ‘favourited’ and responded, thanks. I enjoy your company. You enrich my learning.