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Why we tweet: an ode to Twitter

I am planning to share much more with you about EduCon, the wonderful event I attended this weekend here in Philadelphia.  This conference of conversations, organized by Chris Lehmann and his colleagues and students at the Science Leadership Academy, rocked for hundreds of reasons.  You can experience some of the excitement at EduConTV.

But in this post I want to focus on the application that seemed to run like water under the conference. 

On the surface, so many of the conversations held at SLA led us back to the importance of professional learning networks/communities.  Although several platforms for this activity were mentioned, Twitter was always on the list.  I can’t remember who it was who asked the large group (it was either Chris or Will) how we found out about the conference.  The most popular answer was Twitter.

It was also how many of us figured out where our little groups were meeting between the sessions, for dinner, for drinks.

It was among the ways we held discussions and asked and answered each others’ questions during the sessions. To some degree, it was how our library panel organized our own session.

Was is Twitter?  The site itself responds:

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

When I first discovered Twitter last spring, I couldn’t figure out how it would be useful.  The people I followed shared what they ate for breakfast, what their adorable kids were up to.  I worried about sharing boring stuff of my own. And I have trouble blogging short (as many of you know). Tweets force you to communicate using only 140 characters.

Then there was NECC.  There I discovered my problem. I was tweeting without the benefit of a fully loaded network.  Once I loaded my network, once I determined those I really wanted to follow, I was able to listen to and participate in the conversations running under the sessions.  As I added followers, my Twitter network became more valuable.

I don’t read all the tweets.  I scan. When I see three or four people in my network pointing to a new application or strategy, I suspect it is something I need to know about. When a blogger I respect alerts the network of what they consider an important new post, it is usually one I need to read. 

I read school library tweets, public library tweets, library educator tweets, and many tweets from the edtech Twittersphere. 

When I discover someone I know tweeting, someone who shares many of my interests, I carefully cannibalize the two available lists–those she is following and those who follow her.

Our AASL taskforce is creating a kinda starter list for school library tweeters.  This list is not meant to be prescriptive, merely suggestive.  Follow some and drop some of these if those you initially choose to follow don’t provide relevant or interesting tweets. 

Of course, you will want to create a network of  your own, focused on your own grade levels and areas of personal and professional interest.

Make discoveries. And as you discover, consider adding those Twitter folks you find valuable to our wiki starter list.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. I’ve never heard of Twitter before! What will they think of next. I’m sure all of my high school students are already on this 24/7. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I’m new to Twitter – thank you for the inspiration (I’ve just started to cannibalize!)

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