Thursday, February 17, 2011

Evolution of a Twitter User

This week, a number of our staff members have joined our SKSS PLN on Twitter.  I am pretty excited about that.  I am excited that our teachers will have access to such a wide array of experts and resources online.  I have found that it is the best professional development that I have ever had, or to coin Jeff Delp (@azjd) it is perennial profesional ProD. I can't say enough good things about it, to the point that I am being ridiculed behind my back and to my front about it.  I blissfully don't care because I have never felt more energized about my job and about learning.  However, I need to digress...I also remember the way I felt the first few weeks on Twitter.  Perhaps you remember too...Put these into thought bubbles above my head, and maybe above yours too.

- What am I doing here?
- Who am I supposed to follow?  And for that matter, how the heck do I follow them?
- I have zero followers, so if I tweet something out there, am I just tweeting to myself?
- Hey, I have a follower, I better put something smart out there.  Oops, damn.  Spelling mistake.
- How do I attach a link?  Cripes, the link is huge and doesn't fit in 140 characters.  Forget it.
- Tweetdeck?  What the heck is that?  OK, try that one.  Sounds like everyone is doing it.
- OK, still don't know what I am doing here, and I don't know how to follow people.  I'll just search their name...nope.  Hmmm, don't really know what their Twitter name is.
- Right, now I can follow some people, but when I see their tweets, I see this stupid pound (#) sign and chat.  Sounds like a bunch of people are having a good conversation.  Where do I find this stuff?
- Unconferencing?  What the heck is that?  It sounds expensive.  Let's not worry about that.
- Hashtag?  That sounds illegal, didn't we suspend someone for that last year?
- Jeez, it's 9AM PST on Tuesday, why the heck is there about 50 tweets per minute with this #edchat?
- Wait, I tweeted, and someone RTd it.  Is that good?
- Whoa, I am CHATTING now.  cpchat. edchat. scichat. opensource. formativeassessment.  I am in on every conversation.  Tough to keep up with all of these great ideas.
- Ooops.  Look at all these links.  Ooooh, another good one.  Another!  I can't keep up.  What the heck is this Diigo thing?
- This person says they need help from their PLN.  Is that an airline?  Here's a link to a google document.  Hey, cool.  Whoa.  That's creepy, other people are working on this too!
- Wow, why are these people following me?  Kinda neat that they actually are reading my blog.  Not totally sure why.
- Hey, there's Chris, and Chris,and Remi, and Bryan, and Todd, and Aaron, and Gino, and Terry online tonight.  Cool stuff they are doing.  Kind of looks like what we are doing.  Let's share ours.
- I vowed this would not be social, but I have to tweet about the Grammys.  And why did I just take a picture of my feet on the couch with Pebble Beach golf in the background and send it to Dean Shareski?  Never met him before, but it was a good laugh.
- I have a Google Doc, and I need some help.  Thanks Lyn, thanks Blake, thanks David for adding to it, it's way better now.
- Let's get the staff going on this, they need to develop a PLN.
- Sure, would love to share our blog on an Elluminate chat, sounds great!  Never used it before, but we'll figure it out.
- It's actually pretty easy, just get a Twitter account, download Tweetdeck and link it up!  Linux?  No prob, use Yoono.
- Be glad to demonstrate Twitter.  And how to create a blog. And add a Dipity timeline. And add gadgets. And import your online bookmarks from Delicious to Diigo. And show you screenr so you can show others how to do it.  And use word clouds. And to get your whole staff using a collaborative Google Doc.  And...and...
- Tech policy committee for the district?  Sure, would love to be a part of it.  Let's make policies based on courtesy rather than prohibition so that kids can learn with technology and social media, not just use social media.
- New program? Never heard of Animoto, let's try it and see if it works for us. If it doesn't, I will just put a Tweet out to my PLN, and they will come through for us.  They always do.

And it goes on.  Prior to October, and prior to Twitter I knew none of this stuff, and wasn't really sure that I wanted to get involved with it.  Just a few months later, I am very comfortable trying and learning and then demonstrating and teaching new technologies because my PLN has given me the courage and the knowledge to do so.  I really feel like I have changed as an administrator, and I love it.

I know that my staff will be going through some of the same things that I was as they begin their journey in developing their own Personal Learning Network.  I just hope they have the same experience I did and continue to have.  It has made me excited to be a lifelong learner.

It really has been an evolution!


  1. This rings true for me too. (Except the bit about photographing the feet, of course). Thanks: nice post.

  2. Just shared Twitter with someone yesterday, and tried to help her get past the very first stages in this development, but this definitely feels like what I went through (except my bewilderment and cluelessness lasted at least 6 months).

  3. looking back from "this side" now, it seems insane all the things I learned and skills I have acquired. Being overwhelmed with the entire process seems so long ago. So grateful for everything I have learned and been exposed to and excited to continue learning and helping others get past the twitter hurdle and start developing their own PLN's.

  4. Thanks for your comments, you three! You are so right David--truth be known, I still don't really know what I am doing, but I have the courage to try things a couple of dozen times before finally figuring them out. That's because of you guys!

    I do agree, Alyssa, it does feel like I look back at the "other side", and I really want to pull people over to this side. Funny how you get ridiculed at first for being "too concerned about technology", and then when people get on to it they seem to change their tune.

    Not sure what was going on with taking a pic of the feet--used it to illustrate leisure time on a Saturday...

  5. Hahaha - you got it right! This is exactly how I feel....I'm still new to Twitter but I was trying to share Tweetdeck with a colleague and she wonders how I have time for this...and wonders how can I follow all this....and wonders where I got the idea for that great lesson yesterday....I tell her from a wonderful group of educators who make up my PLN on TWITTER.....great post!

  6. Even as someone who has identified myself as "pretty computer-friendly" since my undergrad days, I was nodding my head in agreement, from beginning to end of this. I went from not "getting" the whole #chat thing, to co-creating a hashtag (#kinderchat) and co-moderating a weekly chat. I turn to my PLN long before turning to Google. Will share your post with my 3 colleagues, who just created class Twitter accounts, and are already warming up to the idea of creating accounts for themselves, too.

  7. This is brilliant!

    Another thing to perhaps emphasize with Twitter: Try to give more than you take. Don't just always RT others but find ways to contribute to our conversations. Seek diversity in your PLN - not just the old boys network, or your own regional opinions, seek voices from different subjects & all over the country & world.

    I covered some (but not all) of these great internal musings in our quest to understand & bond with the Twitters on my comic tutorials (To find: Google glance comic tutorials)
    This is a great share!
    Cheers & Thank you!

  8. I think it's gotten a lot easier to get started using Twitter than when I started a couple of years ago. I make an active effort to connect with people when I see they have just started and give them some resources. After all, the larger our community, the stronger it is, and the easier it is to find people to communicate with on any given subject.

  9. That's hilarious - you pretty much covered it...right down to a group of people that, in most cases, you've never met coming through for you all the time. And they're sooo nice!

  10. Your description resonates for many of us who are new to Twitter. I've been on a similar timeline to you, and I also am blown away by the power of connecting with a customized group of professionals, not confined to my district, my region, or even the public sector. For us as educators, this is OUR 21st century, personalized learning. If we feel the power of this, imagine what students will feel like if we put the same principles of connection in place for their learning?

  11. Awesome. Mostly because I find great comfort in its familiarity with my own "evolution." Thanks for posting this.

  12. I really appreciate all of the comments that people have written about this post. I wrote this on a whim, just because I still feel like the environment that we live in is a bit surreal, and I know that I actually had some distinct feelings of "is anyone really out there?". I am relieved to see that many people felt and still feel those sorts of things in this online environment.

    Gwyneth, I could not agree more about the idea of giving more than you take--I blogged about the idea of abundance a couple of weeks ago, and I feel very strongly about this. I like to try to comment on other people's blogs as often as I can, and like David, I like to try to give a bit of encouragement and support to people who are just trying this technology out. That little bit of support really made me feel good, and I think it is important to pay it forward and back.

    Great comments!

  13. Cale, I am frightened because you may have found a special mind-reading device that can read thought patterns over time even through aluminum foil helmets (either that or I've been forgetting to wear my foil headgear too often!) It is eerie how perfectly you captured every thought twist and mental turn while on the Twitter ride. I worship Gwyneth like a minor deity and it was through responses from people like her that I'm trying new things, being more virtually visible - next on the agenda is to try the Tweetdeck and finally get around to creating my own Diigo ('cause is no more, right?)

  14. This is awesomely hillarious, so very true, and perfect to share with my colleauges. I am "pro," (I wish!) having been on Twitter for all of three months, but in the past few weeks have converted all three principals in my building (they were tired of listening to me tweet about tweeting all the time). They will love this!

  15. This is a great resource. It definitely echos what i felt as I became a twitter user. I'm going to use this post for my next community technology night where I introduce people to twitter. Thanks for putting this out there!


  16. Hit the nail on the head! I've gone through this same evolution in the last 6 months or so. I even have my mom tweeting now. Unfortunately, she still thinks that just because she's putting the "@" sign, that means we're having a private conversation.
    That and the fact that she only follows me. Need to work on that....

  17. Found this a month later (in a tweet, of course). You are the master of stream of tech consciousness. The only thing you left out from my experience was neglecting my feed reader for Tweetdeck. I wish the feeds were as succinct and intriguing as a good tweet.

  18. What a timely post for me. I am brand new to Twitter (past 2 months) and caught between wanting to shout to my staff how wonderful and useful it can be for them, while at the same time having to admit I don't know the first thing about how to truly use it! Case in point: Amazon just delivered 'Twitter for Dummies' and 'Blogging for Dummies' to my front porch on Saturday! While I haven't figured out how to send a message yet ('s so sad and has caused me grave dancing around the room when I wanted to comment or tell someone thank you in a stream of Tweets!) and I certainly have no idea how to create a link since I don't even have a blog yet (yes, I need to be welcomed to the 21st century...but summer is coming, you know!) I can honestly say that I have done more professional reading and have learned from those I would consider 'experts' who are living what I'm living and facing in the past 2 months than throughout the whole school year. I am excited to participate and give back; to collaborate and share with a PLN; to grow and learn from others and definitely EVOLVE on this journey!
    So thank you for summarizing (my writing word for the day) what I've gone through so far (very little) and helping me know what is coming (I need to make a list of all of the programs and utilities you mentioned that I should be looking for that will be the most helpful for me probably, huh??) to make my ride a little smoother. As I said earlier...couldn't have come at a better time!
    Here's to sharing the twitter-verse with one more twit! :)

  19. Cale, what an awesome post. I've been with Twitter for 18months and I still don't know how life exists before that time. I laughed out loud at so many of your stages.... I was very fortunate that my PLN supported me through sooo much and still do everyday..... I have progressed from joining Twittter to loving Twitter to creating my own Twitter Tour - where this year I am travelling throughout NZ meeting face-to-face with fellow "Twits" - AMAZING... Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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  21. For me Twitter is the best PD!

  22. This whole post made me chuckle! I consider myself a Twitter newbie (7 months into it) but in those seven months I feel that I have learned so much from my twitter colleagues. It really is the best professional development source out there! So many wonderful people willing to share. I agree with Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones - The Daring Librarian - as I try to give back and not just receive!

    I'll be sure to send people your way when they are all confused and not sure about signing up!

    Great post - Thanks.

  23. Laughing because many of us seem to sharing a collective Twitter evolution. Terrific post. I learn, I tweet, I share - I learn, I tweet, I share, etc. This repetition has been good for my PD and hopefully for my followers.

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