A lot is being said about Twitter these days in the education arena, and it seems to be a growing trend. Despite its reach, Twitter still offers a lot of resistance within certain conservative educational groups that are married to the concept of professional development being a formal process taking place only in selected events or at predetermined times of the year by experts. Although Twitter has certain entertainment clichés attached to it, it offers consistent alignment with educational and technological standards, which we will attempt to analyze in this article.
Twitter seen from the NETS lens
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) aims at providing standards for students, teachers and administrators in regards to technology integration. These three stakeholders use Twitter to better achieve their purposes. First of all, it is widely used by teachers who want to share experiences and best practices and connect with other educators around the world discussing topics of their interest. It is also used by students to share with others what they’ve learned or to state solutions to problems. Finally, it is being used more and more by administrators who want to keep up to date in current education issues in their schools or districts. The following are examples of National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) as viewed by their stakeholders and their correlation with Twitter:
NETS for teachers and Twitter
Teachers should model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments. (NETS-T 2b)
I honestly cannot think of a better way to engage in collaborative knowledge construction than being a part of a Twitter educational chat. As an educator, you can learn and construct knowledge on standards-based grading (see #sbgchat) for instance, on EdCamps as a learning model (see #edchat) or on developing a professional learning network (PLN) (see #edtechchat). The latter seems to be perfectly aligned with NETS-T 5a that states that teachers participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
NETS for students and Twitter
Students are tweeting on such varied topics, and they are engaging in conversation with celebrities, rock stars, athletes and friends through Twitter. The one component out of the Twitter equation is learning. It shouldn’t be that way. There shouldn’t be a divorce between the way students naturally live and the way they learn. Consider the following standard for students: NETS-S 2a interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media. Twitter promotes interaction and collaboration not only with peers but also with experts beyond their geography, and it is in this interaction that meaningful and relevant learning takes place. Why limit themselves to learning from their classmates if they can actually learn from experts in the field?
NETS for administrators and Twitter
Consider NETS-3b: Facilitate and participate in learning communities that stimulate, nurture and support administrators, faculty, and staff in the study and use of technology. I like every single word of this standard. Administrators should facilitate and participate in learning communities. True that you can experience such communities when you get together in an annual conference. However, Twitter allows for such interactions to take place on a daily basis, 24/7. Additionally, it fosters specialization, and what’s more, it is extremely cost-effective. I like the way they describe the role of these learning communities: they should stimulate, nurture and support administrators and faculty in the study and use of technology. Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my professional life have come from the rich educational community in Twitter and my PLN that meets there every week. I have drawn inspiration to engage in so many projects with my colleagues and students. We’ve been able to begin Twitter chats in the classroom to discuss WWII. Craving for inspiration and support on your educational endeavors? Plunge into Twitter chats and let the richness of its communities fill your empty sack.
In conclusion, are Twitter and education standards divorced? Not from my perspective. In fact, they seem to have engaged in this meaningful long-term engagement that adds value to both parties. Despite what few skeptics might think, I believe education has found a friend and beloved companion in this growing social network.
Isaac Pineda is a language arts and history teacher at Colegio Inglés, a private 1:1 school in Monterrey, Mexico. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and an advocate of technology in education. He also works as a speaker and consultant providing professional development for teachers and administrators at schools in Mexico and overseas. Visit his website. Read his blog. Follow him on Twitter @Kairosedtech.