Twitter is a popular place for many educators. In 2017, when I was planning my dissertation, I realized that I wanted to know more about how teachers were using Twitter and what they were learning.
Ultimately, my dissertation topic explored how elementary schoolteachers use Twitter for professional development. I found that teachers reported Twitter provided them with a supportive community, new ideas to try out in their classrooms, and how to integrate digital tools into their teaching.
I first joined Twitter in 2010 at the recommendation of a colleague. My colleague was an active Twitter user who had connections all over the world. At the time, she was organizing a conference and it seemed as though everything came together from her connections on Twitter.
Initially, I just lurked and read others’ tweets. Then, I came across the hashtag, #MysterySkype. I was fascinated! Here were tweets from teachers looking to connect their classes in a geographic guessing game through Skype calls. I definitely wanted to be a part of it so I exchanged tweets with some teachers and we scheduled Skype calls with our classes.
#MysterySkype was my first realization of the power of Twitter to expand education beyond the four walls of the classroom. I became hooked. One #MysterySkype led to another and another. Soon, the first thing my 3rd and 4th grade students would ask me as they entered our computer lab was “Do we have a #MysterySkype today?” The cheers and excitement that resulted when I said “yes” belied the power of engagement in this new activity.
While engagement is not the only ingredient for student learning, participating in #MysterySkype activated other ingredients as well: motivation, problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration. With #MysterySkype, the goal is to ask yes/no geographical questions in order to figure out the other students’ location. The inherent “unknown” of the other students’ location provides the motivation, narrowing down which questions to ask involves problem solving and critical thinking, and working as a class involves collaboration. What more could a teacher ask for in her classroom?
My interest in how teachers are using and learning from Twitter is still fresh. I will post summaries of my research on this blog. Here is a link to my article published in the journal Professional Development in Education.
Stay tuned for more.