Thursday, June 25, 2009

CPD, Staffrooms and Twitter

A search of my posts on Twitter reveal part of my journey from ambivalence to acceptance. I am at the stage where I don't worry about it and just use Twitter as and when I think it might be useful. Sometimes it is useful, sometimes it isn't but the overhead of sending a tweet is so low that even if it doesn't work they way I'd hoped, I've lost very little by trying.

Staffroom Sink
Originally uploaded by Blue Square Thing
CPD in the Staffroom

At a Glow meeting earlier this week we were talking about Continuing Professional Development - specifically Online CPD with Con Morris. He has posted links and his Prezi online if you want to see what he was talking about but his observations and comments as he presented are what I want to talk about here. For example, he noted that some of the best CPD he ever had took place in the staffroom. There were always the staffroom cynics, and a huge range of non-education related topics were discussed (football, golf, the weather...) but the third year class that was driving you up the wall would also feature and suggestions, strategies and practical advice on what to do about it would follow. He quoted Roland Barth:
...the most powerful form of learning, the most sophisticated form of staff development, comes not from listening to the good works of others but from sharing what we know with others… By reflecting on what we do, by giving it coherence, and by sharing and articulating our craft knowledge, we make meaning, we learn.
[Can't find the original source but it is also quoted on the Escondido Union School District site]
Later, while talking about face to face CPD sessions he quoted "Lord if I die, let it be in a CPD session where the difference between life and death is imperceptible". I don't know who first said this but it contains a truth that will be recognised by anyone who has ever had to sit through a twilight hours development session. This was all part of a discussion about alternatives to face to face CPD.

Twitter as CPD

One of the alternatives suggested was Twitter. However, this lead to some sharp disagreement. One view was expressed that you had to ruthlessly weed out all the people who tell you they had kippers for breakfast and build a small, trusted list of people who tweet about education. However, another school of thought said it was like a staffroom: sometimes you talk about kippers and sometimes you talk about curriculum. If you exclude someone for talking about one you can miss good stuff about the other. At one point Con said something like (and I paraphrase here): "Don't go to Twitter with an agenda. I didn't go to the staffroom with an agenda and my experience was richer because of that."

What do you do?

Where do you lie in the Twitter as CPD discussion? Do you tend to follow most of the people that follow you or do you ruthlessly prune your follow list? If you prune, how do you decide who to keep and do you use tools such as Who The Tweet? to help?


Chris said...

I prune and block ruthlessly; I even prune my nearest and dearest for a day if they're driving me nuts with a bee in the bunnet that I don't care about. I find hashtags (yes, I know - you told me about them first!)useful if I'm keeping up with a single topic. As an unconvinced early adopter of Twitter, I'm now very enthusiastic for its use in just the way you've done it here - flagging up the longer exchange elsewhere.

Stuart Meldrum said...

I've long thought of twitter in the way you explain - the staff room where people sometimes talk shop and sometimes talk about other stuff.

There's a lot of things to be gained from using twitter and sometimes it is great to have the banal there, and like Chris says, sometimes it is great at leading you to other discussions or resources that you otherwise may have missed.

Kenneth... said...

When twitter is used sophisticatedly it becomes an excellent tool for knowledge management. When multiple participants hashtag an event they capture knowledge that can be accessed directly at a later date.

Twitter/blogs/social networks/web 2.0 tools, etc support learning communities. They facilitate the transformation of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.

This, for me, is why twitter-like-tools should be viewed as part of a modern teachers way of working.

We should be countering the bad press! Arguing for these tools and this new vision rather than running silently scared.

We should be discussing the knowledge in a tweet not worrying about the method of communication.