Even the Pope Tweets

“Twitter” and “tweeting” have become common place in our vernacular. Celebrities, politicians, educators, and professionals alike have found common ground to share their news and ideas.  Now, even Pope Benedict XVI is in on Twitter.  This shows the increasing permeation of social media in society.

I believe that the power of twitter has not been fully reached or developed, especially in the middle years.  I’ve had former students come back from high school and asked me if I was on Twitter, but I have not had the same question from my own students.  As with all technology, it will only be a matter of time before Twitter becomes more popular with middle years adolescents.  Facebook had similar origins. It started in colleges and universities and then cascaded to high school, and down to junior high.

My AISI cohort has been using twitter in a variety of ways.  We hashtag  posts related to our group project (#jraisi).  We’ve created group lists and filters (mostly in Tweetdeck) to sort out the hashtag and group our posts together.  We’ve shared content and ideas, using shortened links and other hashtags.  We’ve also used back-channel tweeting; having our twitter feed with hashtags #CCSDPD and #jraisi running on projectors during multi-site professional development days.

I have not tried Twitter in a classroom setting.  Frankly, as with most social media, I’m apprehensive.  There are far reaching ethics and privacy implications.  Here are some of the questions that I have:

1) Do students follow only me or is it a two way street and I follow them too?  Many students have one twitter account that they’ll use for everything including personal tweeting. Following students would give me access to their personal lives.  There are student-teacher boundaries there that need to be adhered to. I believe that the answer to this question may also depend on the age of the students being taught.

2) Does a teacher set up a separate twitter account just for students to follow?  I doubt that many of my Jr. High students would find personal value in my professional tweets; their concerns would be classroom based.

3) What is the purpose of tweeting with students?  Is the purpose to disseminate information such as reminders, homework, due dates, web links, and deliver content, or is it to share and generate discussion (which takes me back to question #1)?

4) What are the Digital Citizen implications for students and teachers using Twitter? Who’s job is it to teach students to use Twitter properly? What is the role of the teacher, student, and parent?  When I take students on field trips I remind them that they are representing themselves, the school, and their families. Does the same apply to Twitter (and the online world in general)?

My position on  Twitter  is similar to how I view e-mail. I have a personal twitter and a professional twitter account.  In my view, I like to keep the two separate.  This does not mean, however, that I don’t tweet out some personal things on my professional account and vice versa.  To keep the majority of work and personal separate seems logical to me.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have more than 1 twitter account?  How do you use twitter professionally and personally?

I’d love to hear your comments.

Follow me @tangoedtech

J.T.

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One thought on “Even the Pope Tweets

  1. Love the picture of the Pope. It looks like he thinks the iPad will bite him! 🙂

    I think you raise some really important and interesting questions about using Twitter in the classroom. Of course, there are no absolute answers, but it does seem to be important to be very careful about what your intentions are as a teacher if you promote Twitter usage, and how you can promote digital citizenship and wise usage by students. That’s tricky stuff, of course. One thing to consider is how your work will be interpreted by the school and community. I usually suggest that teachers should communicate with parents about the ways they want to employ Twitter (or any other social media tool), and always assume they don’t know much about the tool to begin with. There’s a lot of fear and even more opinions rattling around in our communities, so it is important to communicate with them clearly and often.

    I only have one Twitter account (today). I don’t really do a good job of separating my personal and professional lives, and in fact, I don’t really want to. But as an educator in higher education, I don’t face most of the political issues that k-12 teachers do. For me, it’s a simple matter of wanting to live an open professional life, and a lack of fear (and maybe good sense) about sharing parts of my personal life. Through Twitter and other social media, I’ve made a lot of friends — yeh, friends — whom I haven’t ever met. My personal learning network expands almost daily, and I think a big part of it for me is knowing the people I am connecting with as well as I can.

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