One of the things that I learned about in my Online Teaching and Instructional Design degree was the importance of having a personal learning network. This is a tool that I can use to interact with other people and stay current in my field. Twitter is one obvious way to do this. Personally, I have found Twitter to be a little overwhelming and hard to keep up with. That probably has something to do with my not liking to feel like I am missing anything – I want to see all of the tweets, and that just isn’t possible. I started out obsessively checking it, then I gave up and quit checking it altogether. I have finally settled into a routine that works for me, using a couple of tools that make twitter a little less overwhelming.
When I first started looking for people to follow, it was a little bit of a struggle. There seemed to be too much information (always a problem on the Internet). I started with a limited number of people/businesses that seemed relevant to my interests, and have gradually added to my list as I find someone new.
Maybe it is because I grew up reading the newspaper and books, but the short format of twitter isn’t appealing to me. When I really started getting more into twitter was when I found ways to interface with it that work for me.
The first tool that I came across was The Tweeted Times. It is a website that aggregates tweets into newspaper form. You can scroll the “headlines” for stories that interest you. Below is a screenshot of a recent page.
Another site that I found is called Paper.li. You can list Twitter Accounts and other websites that you want to follow and it compiles a newspaper for you. Although it pulls from Twitter, it is not directly tied to twitter. This is a very useful source, and a great way of finding more tech and edtech information (although you could customize to whatever your interests are). Below is a picture of a paper that I generated. It is another site that I am sure I will tweak as I go along.
Finally, the most useful tool that I have found for keeping up with technology news in the world and in education is Flipboard. This is another news aggregator, but it also allows you to check your twitter feed. Using the Flipboard app on my phone is how I keep up with twitter most of the time. It is quick, easy, and right at my fingertips, so I am more likely to keep up with it.
I know that I have only addressed one side of Twitter here, which is basically following people in your industry to stay current with what is going on. Twitter chats are another great tool if you have the focus for them. It is a topic that I hope to investigate more later.
How do you keep current in your field and find new ideas for teaching?