Twitter and Professional Development

I was, in the time-scale of the internet, a little late to the Twitter party. If the early adopters were Cambrian, I am probably somewhere around Jurassic. Like many, I thought it was about what you ate for breakfast (weetabix and a nice cup of tea, thanks) and tweckling people from your multi-dimension dual monitor super PC workstation.

Since joining, and engaging with Twitter, I have grown to love it. Twitter can be anything you want it to be. If you want to know when Brangelina have a cup of tea (herbal I assume), discuss politics of Europe, or get the latest news on your own particular, even peculiar, interest, it’s all there for you. Personally, I have found it very useful in my own professional development in the three areas I am passionate about: chemistry (education), (education) technology, and history.

To this end, I follow several people who have interests in one or all of these themes.They post things of interest, something they have read, or written, that they liked, and perhaps an opinion on it. It’s likely that since I am following them because of a shared interest, I will find it interesting too. I can reply and have a chat about it, or pass it on to the people who follow you. This differs greatly from an RSS feed (which of course everybody must use by now, don’t you?!) where all content is posted, for example from a journal, and I have to find the stuff I am interested in. In other words the personal and community nature is removed. In this way, Twitter is a great learning tool, because I come across examples, arguments, and useful tools that will enhance my own professional life—professional in this case because of the nature of people I follow.

Twitter differs from email, in that you don’t have to read anything or everything in your Twitter stream. I like to try, and to that end I keep the number of people I follow low, sometimes excluding those who are very interesting but tweet a lot. Usually these people blog too, so I catch up with their interests there. Unfortunately, some people tweet the same thing several times, which should be banned! I generally stop following them. I’ve listed below some people I would recommend—this isn’t exhaustive, the aim is to give a flavour.

History

Before the humanities people run off on me and move to the next blog on 12th century archives, I’ll mention them first. There is a surprisingly very active community of historians on Twitter, for any time period you are interested in.

  • National Library of Ireland: There’s a whole thesis that someone will write about the NLI’s use of social media, which is a model that many should emulate. It is tempting for institutions to just disseminate in a one way, but the good people at NLI understand the dynamics of conversation, providing a useful service and building a community. I could go on for days, let’s just say I ♥ NLI.
  • The Magpie Historian: A classic example of when someone else’s interests overlap your own (except theirs is an encyclopaedia of knowledge), every tweet is of interest – architechtural and social history, my favourites have a 19th century bent, and a nice blog to go with it.
  • Learn about Archives: fantastic and generous source of information and discussion on all sorts of Irish archives.
  • Great to see that Marsh’s Library are a recent addition. Beautiful images regularly shared.

Educational Technology

Ed Tech people were obviously among the early adopters to Twitter, and it was at an EdTech conference that I first came across it. Lots of people who share and discuss useful ideas relating to educational technology in teaching. Concentrating on third level, some of those I find useful are (this is not exhaustive!):

  • The DIT group: @muireannOK (blogs, wikis, e-portfolios, academic writing, clickers, etc), @m_crehan (supporting learners, 1st year experience, academic writing) and @kcor1964(HE policy, ed tech in education, reads the New York Times so you don’t have to)
  • The Galway group: @sharonlflynn (clickers, plagiarism policy and practice) @catherinecronin (engagement of learners through tech, digital literacies) and @marloft (The Magpie Historian (see above) of the Ed Tech World)
  • International: @traceymadden (oers, accessibility, pragmatic stuff you can use) @marksmithers (practical matters, policy, says what you want to but are afraid to), @antoesp (Ed Tech theory, digital scholarship, information source), @clairebrooks (technology in education across a range of applications)

Chemistry

One of the really great things about Twitter for me is connecting with chemistry people around the world. Chemists were a little late to the party, but there numbers have swollen recently. I like following chemists for several reasons, obviously for my primary interest in discussing how we can teach chemistry, but also following people who are doing chemistry research and talk about it or share information on the application of chemistry. These often provide great case studies for use in teaching (most recent example is this excellent video from @professor_dave on the chemistry of transplantation). It has also been great to follow chemistry teachers in schools, as this gives me a lot of insight in dealing with new students at third level. Finally, people who are involved in science communication and sharing the science love – again I have got lots of useful information. I’ve grouped them below as I see them (obviously by their very nature they fit in more than one box, but where would we be without categories? Chaos, that’s where).

So go on – try Twitter!

I am @michaelkls. the most horrific and useless username possible. But there you go.

*Apologies to people I haven’t named directly. I love every 208 209 of you.

4 thoughts on “Twitter and Professional Development

  1. Thanks Simon. Well like I said on the Twitter, you have been quite effective at getting chemists to start tweeting!

    Alan – you are someone who causes chaos… I can’t categorise you into just one group :) Sort that out, will you? When is that blog starting again?! Thanks for commenting!

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