In November 2010, I started an account on Twitter just to see what the fuss was about. I poked around a bit but ultimately decided that, though it was a tool that many found valuable, I wasn’t personally interested. Since then, I revisited Twitter a few times while at conferences using official conference and session hashtags to post and follow the conversation (but not following specific people). I did (and do) appreciate the extra dimension it added to the conference experience: hearing highlights from sessions I could not attend, following the conversations of my colleagues, learning which exhibits/vendors were must-see, etc. But after each conference was over, I’d put Twitter back into hibernation. Last semester in my Online Pedagogy course (ED 655 at UAF) and again at the beginning of this semester’s Instructional Design course (ED 653 at UAF), we were required to sign up for or rejuvenate our Twitter accounts, sign up to classmates’ feeds, and post a few Tweets. I did the requisite Tweeting but no more.
A little over a week ago something changed. I started a MOOC on Social Media and have participated in earnest. The course is a combination of how to use various social media tools (mechanics), in what ways they can be used (strategy and purpose), history of social media, and relevant theory. I must say, I love this course. The content is interesting, relevant to my professional, academic, and personal interests, and very well organized/presented/taught/led. (Note: It’s not too late to join this free course and catch up!) As it is my first MOOC, I fear that it is setting very high expectations that other MOOCs may not be able to reach. But I digress…
The first unit of Social Media introduced Twitter. The videos and readings revealed helpful insights into the use of Twitter, both in understanding how Twitter can be of value to me and how to effectively navigate and use Twitter’s features. I jumped in to Twitter and completed the exercises in the unit. Now I am finding Twitter to be a gold mine of information that is relevant to my career and education (librarianship, education, teaching, eLearning, instructional design, etc.). I’ve learned of a conference I absolutely must attend (SXSW Edu), new educational technology tools, research on social media and education, new perspectives on topics relevant to me, and more. I’ve also made connections with professionals in my fields around the world.
On September 16, 2012, I Tweeted: “I don’t like
#twitter. I don’t like micro-blogging, apparently, and Facebook does everything Twitter does… Only better.” I was not using Twitter effectively and did not understand the power of Twitter for information discovery and professional development. I see now that Twitter isn’t just about posting how you are feeling that day or a funny meme (though it can be if that’s what you want from it). I will continue to use Facebook to maintain personal connections and to post life updates. But Twitter is the place I can post all the things my Facebook friends don’t give a hoot (tweet?) about and get information my Facebook friends would never share. Viva la Twitter!