Organized Tweeting? Is that a good thing?

Recently I attended Edustat, a national conference held in my school district put on by UVA, my school system and Schoolnet. It was a unique conference experience for me, partly because my Superintendent had invited several people I tweet with, Chad Ratliff (@csratliff) and Jon Becker (@jonbecker), and partly because I had spent the prior two weeks reading Jay McTighe‘s book, Schooling by Design and had previously read The Global Achievement Gap.  Both Jay McTighe and Tony Wagner were invited speakers. The goal of this conference for Albemarle teams was to basically learn, talk, and figure out how to take what we learned back to our schools and make a difference.

Chad’s attendance was a catalyst for me, because he is a questioner, a thinker, a listener and currently NOT a practicing teacher, but an entrepreneur. His constant questions had me thinking all week about our structure, our systems and the teaching and learning that happens in Albemarle. The fact that Jon Becker drove in daily from 70 miles away also had me thinking–what was it about this conference that interested a professor from a nearby college? He was obviously engaged, and he, too, asked questions and conversed about the topics being discussed. I’m looking forward to seeing his thoughts about it at some time in his blog, Educational Insanity.

The uniqueness for me was coming in with high levels of expectations for learning (I really liked both Schooling By Design and The Global Achievement Gap), high levels of expectations for engaging in great conversation with my colleagues (both local and my Twitter buddies) and an air of excitement because Becky Fisher (@beckyfisher73 on Twitter), with the blessing of our Superintendent, (@pammoran on Twitter) had organized people to tweet and blog throughout the conference, and I was one of those. I was looking forward to being a catalyst for conversations among my Twitter following as well as engaging new local folks in tweeting.

What happened I should have expected. Twitter is always viral, and I should have known it would take off. . .

Those of us initially tweeting (@pammoran, @beckyfisher73, @mtechman, @csratliff, @jacatlett, me) involved MANY folks from outside of our county on Twitter.  The Edustat hashtag was followed by folks from all over, and as we were streaming the sessions, people from three continents and all over the US were watching. Because of that interest from outside, many of our local shakers and doers became tweeters and they were voracious about tweeting out what the presenter was saying and asking quick questions–reflective questions we should-and will- return to later.

I simply couldn’t keep up with my usual twitterstream, the presentation, the #edustat hashtag tweets AND another stream (the TED conference) I had going at the same time.  Twittering wasn’t a conversation as much as it became a place to report what the presenter was saying in both the Edustat hashtag stream and the TED stream. The fast tweeting caused me, at least, to back off and try just to keep up with reading and listening and responding to questions outside folks were asking.

The Twitter use definitely evolved over the three days of the conference and some of our local folks became quite hooked on it. (I am going to school tomorrow to answer some of my principal’s questions, in fact!) As a county, we have begun to use another Twitter hashtag, AE, (for authentic engagement) to continue some of the face to face conversations begun at the conference. As a county, many of our teacher leaders now have a feel for the impact of a PLN that is not simply local.

As a county, we have been transformed by our Twitter experiences.

It certainly made a difference when the superintendent, Pam Moran, (@pammoran on Twitter) asked her folks to use and experience a tool that she believes is powerful for teaching and learning.  It certainly made a difference when attendees began to realize we had an international audience.  It certainly made a difference when some of our administrators and teachers got on Twitter and saw the vast amount of information being shared. It made an even bigger difference when they began to USE Twitter.

So, Organized Tweeting-is it a good thing?  I say yes. .  .

And, thank you, Pam and Becky, for designing the task so our folks sought out the tool, the instruction and the learning!!

6 thoughts on “Organized Tweeting? Is that a good thing?

  1. It was great following your #edustat tweets from here in Southern California! Definitely some intriguing quotes and notes you put up. Thanks!

  2. I also enjoyed following your edustat tweets, while also attending the conference and sending my own tweets. It was great to meet you and your fellow super-tweeters. I think you made a fantastic contribution to the event!

  3. Paula, Your blog post was forwarded to me by a Schoolnetter! At Edustat, the “hidden” energy of our social networking connections, interactions, conversations, and debate often was far more intense than the face-to-face sessions and discussions were. Large groups are difficult to engage together, resulting in dialogue that plays out more like a “one on one” game of pingpong rather than an interactive, rough and tumble game of ice hockey. Twitter offers the opportunity for many more people to choose whether to knock the puck around or sit in the stands and watch the action. In the twitter world, both are okay choices.

    Blogs, on the other hand, feel less like a sports event and more like a concert performance to me. We are offered the opportunity to listen to the orchestra and, later, over a virtual cup of coffee with friends, reflect upon the quality of the flute solo or timbre of the woodwinds.

    Virtual streaming brings together a larger movie audience and, I guess, is the next best thing to being there. In this economy, it was a nice touch for our partners, SchoolNet and UVA, to see sharing our summit virtually as a positive contribution to our national learning community.

    Albemarle County Public Schools, SchoolNet, and UVA all learned from the social networking dynamic of Edustat University 2009. In many ways, using this format as a primary conponent of our learning during Edustat allowed us to truly make real our theme “reimagine education.”

    The key question in my mind now is how can everyone stay connected and working on the big ideas associated with reimagining education?

  4. Thanks, Jen. I really appreciate everything the partners, especially SchoolNet, did to make the social networking really work. The attendees who tweeted, the schoolnet site where the blogs sat and the friendliness of everyone involved made a big impression on not just me, but many I spoke to, as well. Hopefully we can co-host again sometime!

  5. Glad you joined us, Ian. Maybe next time you can join us f2f. 🙂 I’ve attended so many online conferences and lived on other people’s tweets, so I was simply trying to do the same for others. I am really appreciative of your feedback.

  6. Pam,
    Love your analogies. . . the twitter and hockey analogy is particularly accurate in a fast paced situation like an online conference.

    One answer to your question is the use of the new hashtag AE (for authentic engagement) in twitter where folks are engaging in talking research (Marzano/Schlechty) and beginning a wiki ( to share resources. Already have a member from C’ville and it was just tweeted. 🙂

    Absolutely, the use of social networking helped paint a picture of the theme of the conference. You not only shared a piece of your vision, but you helped others to REIMAGINE EDUCATION as well.

    I feel blessed to work in this county and appreciate that you are our Superintendent. Let me know how I can help you further your vision!

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