Hosted in Palm Springs every March, the CUE Conference is a virtual smorgasbord of ed tech goodies that is attended by those of us who are truly passionate about our craft and are excited about the potential of our new gadgets. It is always difficult while at CUE to decide which of the remarkable breakout sessions will yield the most takeaways. Even with 5 people there from BGL, we could not divide enough to conquer all the information.
A Twitter novice in those early days of Web 3.0, I was resistant to joining another social network. Quite frankly, I didn’t need the distraction. And, having tried Twitter previously only to follow my favorite comedians and sports teams, I had serious questions about whether or not Twitter could benefit education. But, after hearing about the #CUE11 hashtag in too many sessions to ignore it, I finally surrendered. Many of my poly-deviced colleagues were doing the same, sharing tips on sessions that appeared more valuable than others and, most importantly, sharing resources that before Twitter were made available only to session attendees and their direct contacts. Now, these resources were available not just to those in the session but to everyone who followed the hashtag.
As I followed CUE hashtag for the remainder of that weekend, my specific location became irrelevant. And as I’ve continued to use Twitter since then, what blows my mind is that like-minded people who live in different places were previously prevented from knowing each other but now need only a hashtag to engage in meaningful conversation and exchange of information. What I personally love about Twitter (aside from fishing through my favorite hashtags) is my ability to get instant feedback about any topic from a network of a thousand ed techy teachers. Does anyone have good kindergarten ESL apps for iPad? Looking for resources on introducing SmartBoards to an elementary school campus – please help! How can we involve parents in educational technology?
Of course, Twitter is not without its flaws, and many introductions, guides and instructional videos (like this and this) exist specifically for educators. Parsing through irrelevant tweets – especially for broader hashtags – to find truly valuable information can be a challenge; on the flip-side sometimes there is so much information that Twitter becomes yet another digital rabbit hole. But with just a little effort you can learn the right hashtags and Tweeters to follow and figure out the best ways to connect with them. The framework is there, we just have to make it work.
And, while you’re there, follow us!