New to Twitter….

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Previously, I used Twitter to follow the news but I was blinded to the whole world of education on there.I have really enjoyed my initial experience of Twitter from an educational perspective. There are so many great accounts to follow from , Irish, English and global education accounts. Some are in on my Twitter account under ‘Following’ which you can find

I find the sheer speed of Twitter so fascinating. No other website (including all major news stations and publications combined) allows information to be processed and fed out to millions of users as quickly and efficiently as Twitter. There is an estimated 190 million news reporters around the globe. The best thing about Twitter is that it is a free social network and you can log on from any device (provided you have good WiFi/broadband)

So moving onto my next question….Why Should Teachers Use Twitter in Education?images (2)

There are so many benefits for teachers using Twitter in the classroom. Firstly, teachers can connect to their students on a wider level as well as on a personal level. Interactions can be taken beyond the classroom as Twitter is on our smartphones and laptops. Twitter also caters for  differentiating leaning for different students at all different levels. Twitter can also be used to quickly connect to other pages, links and resources. Twitter also gives new opportunities to connect to other learning communities and new educational content. The very concept and idea of Twitter makes for a new generation of learning.

Some great sites I have came across in getting started are;

I really need to mention and credit EdChatIE and REChatIE , two fantastic online discussion forums set up for all Teachers and Religious Educators in Ireland to engage in discussions, share resources and ideas, make contacts and get to know each other. You can use the hashtags  or #edchatie to engage in topics and discussions. At first, I was nervous engaging in the chat but other educators introduce themselves and make you feel really at ease. I am particularly enjoying this aspect of Twitter. The discussions are informative, lively and really encourage me in my own professional development.

One Irish teacher I truly admire and that is leading the way for the use of technology and Twitter in the classroom is Fintan O’Mahony. Until then, history lessons for him was the traditional route of handouts and note taking. Fintan soon realised Twitter would make the class more enjoyable and help to develop students’ critical-thinking skills.

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As a fellow History teacher, I was delighted to be introduced to Fintan and his work by Enda Donlon, my Masters lecturer. I am already looking at Fintan and his Twitter page for inspiration.

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Leaving Cert correctors are always asked to look out for “significant, relevant points” in exam papers. Fintan commented “I realised that could be a tweet: it didn’t need to be more than a couple of sentences.” For a typical class, groups of students are asked to research a topic online and then to start tweeting facts in chronological order. He monitors quality, deleting misspelt tweets. He then uses Storify to grade and document the tweets.

download (4)The groups have a sense of researching like historians, he says. This new way of working “would make a big difference for students who would not be as interested or as able in history,” says O’Mahony “You can see results in some of their scores, an extra couple of per cent.” I think this is an amazing stand alone achievement and a rapid progression in technology in the classroom.

In a research survey as part of the journal The End of Isolation, participants were asked how using Twitter has benefited them professionally. Four unique themes emerged from their responses including;

  • Access to resources
  • Supportive relationships
  • Increased leadership capacity
  • Development of a professional vision
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Additionally, J. Richardson (1997) suggests that the main objective of professional development should be to foster changes in teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes because these components of teacher cognition are closely tied to teaching practice. Evidence from this study suggests that interactions through Twitter can lead to these results. Further analysis of data shows that the majority of tweets were educationally focused and were seen in the categories of practice/philosophy, questions, and sharing of resources. Im only on Twitter a few days now and I can already see the major educational benefits it has for me. I can Tweet for resources, links and someone will always write back.

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Sources 

Elizabeth Alderton, Eric Brunsell, Damian Bariexca, The End of Isolation, Vol. 7, No.3, September 2011, USA.

Richardson, J. (1997). Putting student learning first put these schools ahead. Journal of Staff Development,18(2).

Joe Humphreys, The Irish Times, November 22, 2014, 01:00 [Accessed 16th October at 2pm]

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