Using Twitter for not-so-professional learning by Sheila B Robinson

Hello all! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365 Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor with yet another gentle nudge toward a particular social media platform – Twitter! Did you just roll your eyes and almost stop reading? Please don’t. It’s you I want to talk to!

Lesson Learned: My Twitter introduction came years ago in a brief workshop when I was working for a public school district. The teacher told us how he used Twitter to connect with teachers all over the world, learn new instructional strategies, and get great recommendations for books and articles.

I was surprised at the time that Twitter wasn’t just about what celebrities ate for breakfast. I was still somewhat early in my evaluation career and thought Twitter might be a way to connect with other evaluators. Unfortunately, there weren’t many tweeting evaluators at that time.

In 2012 I responded to a tweet from an evaluator I didn’t know personally. We took a chance on each other and began collaboratively blogging about survey design. That writing relationship grew into joint conference presentations and co-facilitated workshops, and eventually a co-authored book! More importantly, it resulted in a great friendship.

Hot Tip: I continue to cull an incredible wealth of evaluation information from Twitter and it’s an easy, fun way to connect with my evaluation friends on a different level. In this time of global crisis, I’m appreciating it more than ever. As people continue to work and learn, they’re also letting us in on their lives. I’m learning about people’s kids and pets and where they live. I know the struggles they’re managing with work and homeschooling, and seeing them retweet stories they’ve found inspiring and just want to share. I’ve learned for example, that an evaluation colleague and I attended the same college and we had a fun time chatting about our pasts, the city, and an iconic restaurant.

Cool Trick: Ready to get in the conversation? You can start with my list of 900+ evaluators (yes, it really HAS caught on among evaluators!) on Twitter: You can just scroll through and see what evaluators are tweeting about these days. You can subscribe to the list so you have it in your account whenever you want to look. And, (I highly suggest this!) look through the list of members and follow some or all of them! Everyone appreciates a genuine follow on Twitter.

Hot Tip: Once you follow a bunch of people it gets hard to keep up with all the tweets. But, that’s also the beauty of it. You don’t have to! You can go to a particular profile and see what, if anything, they have recently tweeted. You can follow certain hashtags (e.g., #Evaluation, #EvalTwitter, #Dataviz, #Surveydesign) or accounts (I follow @_youhadonejob1 for fun, and scroll through their tweets when I need a break!).

Rad Resources: We’ve featured many, many articles on Twitter over the years – some about WHY to use it and others about HOW. Just type “twitter” in the search box and start reading!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “Using Twitter for not-so-professional learning by Sheila B Robinson”

  1. Elizabeth DiLuzio

    Thanks for this, Sheila. I have “met” and formed relationships with some pretty fabulous evaluators via your list. I definitely recommend it!

  2. Dr. Sondra LoRe

    Thank you Shelia for this wonderful blog post. Once upon a time, I was much more active on Twitter. Over the last three years, I had abandoned it completely focusing more on LinkedIn for my work content. But, you have inspired me to reconsider. I respect you and will give your suggestions on Twitter a try. Perhaps I can fall back in like with Twitter again.

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