One year ago (April 29, 2010), I was asked to attend an intense three day social media boot camp, called #Kipcamp. Kipcamp is hosted by the Kiplinger Program of The Ohio State University. We were introduced to the coordinators and facilitators, Debra Jasper (@Debrajasper) and Betsy Hubbard (@BestyHubbard) of Kipcamp by a Columbus State Community College administrator.
Kipcamp was an awesome experience as it exposed me to the world of social media. We discussed how businesses use Facebook, the importance and influence of blogging, and the use of Twitter, among other Web 2.0 tools. Prior to this, I saw no use for Twitter whatsoever. I didn’t care what or where celebrities ate for breakfast, what they decided to wear to lunch or some awards show, or any other random piece of information that I assumed was tweeted! So, when they spent the second day of the three day camp on Twitter, needless to say I was not thrilled. However, it happened!
What is “it” you ask? Well, I’m glad you want to know! What happened was that I was introduced to the possibilities of connecting with people all over the world through Twitter. I was taught the language and the basics of how to compose a message in 140 characters. I learned about a hashtag, how to DM, RT, and follow someone. It was a great experience, but to say that I was overwhelmed is an understatement. I left day two of KipCamp enthused, but not yet sold that Twitter was something I would or could use as a principal. You know, there are so many rules, policies, and fears surrounding social media and public education.
Day Three: I played with Twitter a little bit more and stumbled upon @Shellterrell and the Teacher Reboot Camp. I then followed the great Shelly Terrell and quickly found George Couros (@gcouros) and Connected Principals (@conprin), followed by Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) and The Educators PLN! It was like the scales from my eyes were removed! Tweets about emerging and relevant educational issues were nonstop and I couldn’t read them fast enough. I didn’t realize this world even existed!
As I took a leap into the Twitterverse, I first only lurked, meaning I read the tweets of others, but didn’t reply, retweet, or contribute in any way at all. However, about a month into it, I began to reply to others’ tweets, comment on others’ blogs, and retweet their information. I began to gain so much more from Twitter as I began to contribute. It was at that time that I understood what many education Tweeters referred to as a Personal Learning Network. A PLN is a network of educators who learn from one another regardless of distance and time. I was hooked!
Through Twitter, I have been exposed to Education Conferences (#educon) Teach Meets, and unconferences that occur all over the world. I even participated in my first online education conference-for free! Talk about relevant and engaging professional development! I have communicated with educators from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, England, China, and all over the United States through Twitter and I am so thankful for members of my PLN for adding to my growth as an educator. In no other time in my career have I had the privilege to learn from so many different people from all walks of life.
As of today, I am responsible for over 1500 tweets, I am accountable to 535+ followers, and I am following over 220 people, and I now have a blog called, Mr. Carter’s Office, all because of Twitter. It’s been a wonderful experience so far and I can’t wait to see what another year brings!