Prior to this assignment, I had never experienced a real time webinar or live twitter chat. A whole new world of professional development opportunities has been introduced to me! What I discovered about these two types of professional development (PD) is that they are extremely valuable because they allow the learner (me) to direct my PD in a way that fits my direct needs while increasing my overall connections with other professionals in my field. I attended 5 live twitter chats and 4 real-time webinars.
The twitter chats, I attended varied in subject from edtech topics to music education. I thoroughly enjoyed the chats and thought that 4 of the 5 I attended were well organized because the moderators were prepared with questions and did a nice job at keeping people on topic. I especially liked how 2 moderators suggested to us that we follow other people in the chat to help us build our networks and connections. One thing that I struggled with while participating in a twitter chat was that I wanted to click a lot of the links people shared. I overcame this problem my downloading a utility that would save the link for me so that I could read it later. This helped me to stay on task and not miss any learning.
The webinars in my opinion took the PD to another level because they were so virtual. Talking, chatting through backchannels, sharing screens and examples made me feel like I was in the same room as the presenter. 2 of the webinars I participated took place overseas – New Zealand and Australia. Aside from the content of the webinar, what I found most interesting was learning about education in other parts of the world. It’s incredible to me how different education in our country seems compared to that in New Zealand. We are focused on Common Core and they on individualized education. The other 2 webinars took place in the United States. One was about Thinglink and Google apps and the other discussed using technology in today’s classrooms to help children learn. I really enjoyed being a part of the webinars and even tried to attend one on my mobile device.
My overall feelings about using social media for PD is that it should be a necessary requirement for all educators. It’s extremely focused, efficient, self directed, and mostly free!