Social Networking, via the Twitter medium, offers an option for professional development which supports the flipped classroom approach, in that online collegial discussions, research, surveys, and an enriched professional learning approach can be done outside of the traditional faculty meeting time and then the learning that takes place through Twitter can be implemented during the “faculty meeting time.” While some faculties of educators in many schools today operate in the old way of scheduling after-school meetings and gatherings in the library to comply with mandated professional development, other schools and teachers are incorporating the flipped approach by maximizing the capabilities of Twitter and allowing teachers to be entrusted as true professionals to conduct their learning outside of the traditional faculty meeting time and to replace that time with the implementation of the learning.
Professional development via twitter and Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s), unlike traditional forms of faculty meeting based or site-based professional development, have resources growing at exponential rates that are available to Twitter users which allows the user to be independent and in control of his or her own professional learning outside of mandatory times and places in which many teachers are used to spending their “professional development”. For example, with Twitter, one has the ability to follow authors, mentors, researchers, educators, colleagues, etc. based on their own desires, interests, and musings and then be able to grow at their own rates rather than at a set time and place with the “whole faculty.” Other options for faculties using twitter include online discussions using hashtags, such as #edtech, #formativeassessment, #socialstudies, #edudream, #edchat, #satchat and many more, where teachers simply post their own thoughts, questions, and/or links that relate to the topic in the hashtag. Twitter, like online textbooks, allows teachers to investigate relevant and current topics in order to expand their learning in a subject, similar to the way students use their online textbook features.
In lieu of spending hours on end searching for topics, learning opportunities, and relevant educational trends, Twitter allows users to follow other Twitter users in order to have desired information to be tweeted straight to the follower which saves time and energy.
Peter Dewitt, praises professional development through Twitter by opining:
“Conversations with peers, whether they are in our building standing next to us, or a password away on the social network, help us make sure we are on the right track. By going to a social network like Twitter we are surrounded by people who are experts in the area of (our interests) and they are a helpful resource as we negotiate our way through this process.”
In addition, college professor, Steve Wheeler, details the importance of creating a professional learning network through the use of a metaphorical graph below. You will see Twitter is in the first quadrant: