Twitter and its uses for Professional Development.

 twitter hash tagPost by Justine

I signed up for Twitter when I was participating in a ‘23 Things’ program run through the Information Team a few years ago. I signed up and did what I was asked to do, but I really wasn’t interested and soon found it impossible to keep up with the sheer amount of information coming in on a daily basis through my Twitter feed. I started to ignore it.

One day, a few years later, something happened to change my mind …Horror of horrors, I had nothing to read on a 1.5 hour commute to work!

To the iPhone I turned however Facebook quickly paled, nothing was happening there. I tried to search the Internet for something interesting to read but really, it was too much like hard work.

Then I thought I might as well check up on my Twitter account. Previously when I had looked at Twitter I had felt overwhelmed by all the information coming through and just couldn’t keep up. Now however I had a decent amount of time on my hands with nothing to do. So I logged in, looked at my feed, and almost missed my train connection.

Having the time to go through my feed (3 hours a day) was fantastic. It allowed me to go back as far as I liked and see what conversations had been happening, track what people or groups were putting up content that was of interest to me and generally discover how this arena worked.  I no longer have this amount of time each day, (lets face it who does?), however I find Twitter to be incredibly useful in the generation and sharing of ideas, answering questions and generally keeping me informed. The information is there already, I don’t have to look too hard for it. Now, I make an effort to find the time.

Often people will simply tweet links to blogs, articles and website that they want to share or think are helpful. But Twitter also has an amazing ability to quickly reach hundreds, possibly even thousands, of other people all around the world with just one Tweet.

You don’t need to follow hundreds of people for this to happen either, not with the power of the reTweet and the use of hashtags. If you are not sure what this means, a reTweet is simply a Tweet which someone has re-Tweeted, but this means that the reach of the Tweet expands exponentially with each reTweet.

The hashtag is a way of grouping Tweets about the same thing, for example the hashtag for discussions about this PD blog is: #coblspd

I am not suggesting that there are no down sides to Twitter. The burden of time is immense as is the plethora of sources and information. Where to start and where to stop can be difficult to discover. What is popular is not always what is best, but this may be what is on Twitter. And social media in general has a number of issues for participants, to do with misuse, miscommunication and can go as far as harassment and bullying.

That said, I believe that Twitter can be a powerful tool, particularly for Professional Development.

I follow people or groups who interest me and who have the same interests as me; other librarians, library services, education institutions, teachers, politicians, writing groups, ALIA, musicians, comedians and just people in general who have something to say which I want to hear.

Live-Tweeting at conferences is a great way of sharing ideas beyond the physical confines of the venue and helps keep you on top of things if you haven’t been able to attend and watching a conference feed on Twitter is a great way to connect with the movers and shakers, and big thinkers, in your area. You may find yourself connecting with some pretty big wigs, which can only be a good thing!

Twitter also allows you to keep up with current trends in your area. Someone will be Tweeting discussions and links etc… which will be hash tagged for your edification!

I rarely have time to watch much news these days so I trust my Twitter feed to supply a never-ending feed of current issues to keep me up to date.

Twitter can also be a great place for exchanging ideas.  And asking for advice has never been easier or more fun!

I have found so many great articles on Twitter, some useful for work, some useful for life. Whilst on Twitter and thinking about writing this blog I saw this from someone I follow: http://theteachingtomtom.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/making-twitter-work-for-your-students/

Someone also put this gem up recently too:

http://flavorwire.com/407418/the-25-best-websites-for-literature-lovers/view-all

Useful for book lovers everywhere!

And finding libraries in the news is made easy when you follow like-minded people:

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/06/libraries-australia

So what are you going to do?

Find (or make) the time to sign up to Twitter; follow people who are tweeting interesting things; communicate and network respectfully; share thoughts and articles yourself – it is not a one-way street – you may be surprised what this can lead to; but don’t be afraid to lurk, you never know what you may find!

Come find me @justbel19 and Happy Tweeting!

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