Thursday, April 21, 2016

Global Connections in 140 Characters

Last week, I traveled to Houston for the annual Abydos Learning Conference and while I was waiting for the first session to start, I checked my email on my phone. I was surprised to find an email from a reporter with the New York Times waiting in my in-box. The reporter had seen a tweet from me about a learning game, and she wanted to interview me for an upcoming article.

Obviously, I understand that every time I tweet a short spotlight or comment about a teacher or student in my district that anyone can see it, but I suppose I still also assume that the vast majority of my Twitter "audience" are people who know me personally. The power of Twitter is that you can communicate, connect, and collaborate with anyone and everyone who is interested about a specific topic. This really hit home when my simple tweet about an 8th grade math teacher in Haltom City, Texas caught the eye of a reporter in New York City.

I did the phone interview standing outside the session at the conference, connecting with a complete stranger about my observations and experiences with online learning games. We talked for over twenty minutes about different aspects of a specific game platform and how students engage with the game. When I finished the call, I returned to my session and found myself marveling a little about how easily two strangers with a similar interest were able to connect and discuss something.

This is the power of Twitter. It is not just about connecting with those people who "follow" you, but it is also about connecting with people you have never met. The magnitude of being able to connect and gain insight with that diverse and far-flung an audience is pretty thrilling. I am acutely aware that my intentions and motives for tweeting are very different than my fifteen year old daughter's, and I need to better share these with my Twitter-reluctant colleagues. Twitter for educators is not as much about social media as it is about audience reaching, and all teachers share a connection with other teachers, even those they have never met. So, as I gained a new person to follow on Twitter, I also gained a deeper understanding about the power and reach of Twitter.

Now, I just need to work on better quotes for any future interviews. To read the published article, click here.