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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: https://twitter.com/i/lists/81871654. 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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

  1. Hi Sheila,

    I love the fact that you discussed the importance and benefits of Twitter. I too was introduced to the effectiveness of Twitter years ago when I was in Teacher’s College. I did not realize the positive impact it would have on me and the connections that could be made. Unfortunately, over the years I have lessened my usage of Twitter and not relied on it as much as possible. I am currently taking my Master’s in Education and I am so happy I came across your blog because it reminded me of the importance of using Twitter to engage, learn and share. I appreciated the list you provided and the hashtags. I will look into those. I have now made a goal to use Twitter several times weekly and to try to connect to other educators that share the same interests I do.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Sheila,

    I am an education graduate student taking a course on program evaluation for the first time this semester. This course has led me to discover the AEA365 Blog and your post.

    Since the beginning of my graduate degree, each semester my professors have referenced using Twitter as an educational tool for professional development, networking and collaboration. I never took it seriously because I thought it was “old-school”. Aren’t kids into Tiktok and Instagram nowadays? Isn’t everyone on Facebook and isn’t the content more relevant? What about Reddit? As you mentioned, I had that same eye roll reaction and was skeptical about what Twitter really was about and how it could be used.

    Needless to say, I gave in and checked it out. I was incredibly surprised at how many resources and collaborators there were on Twitter. I did not think the quality of the content would be so meaningful and interesting. I also enjoyed the way you can filter through the hashtags what content you wish to follow or look at. It makes it so easy and fun to search instead of mindlessly scrolling through tons of posts. I regret not using this tool earlier for my course on program evaluation as I was dipping my toes into the content for the first time!

    Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks and also the long list of evaluators to check out. Your post inspired me even more to give Twitter a chance and to connect with the communities available around the world through a different social media platform.


    1. Sheila Robinson

      Thanks Diana! So glad you checked out Twitter and found it useful. I admit I’m not yet an Instagram user – still figuring it out TBH – and I’ve never even tried Tik Tok. I’ll have to check those out!

  3. Hi Sheila, thank you for this post. I just recently completed my teacher librarian certificate and am now enrolled in my Professional Masters of Education at Queen’s University. I am currently taking a course on program evaluation which brought me to this blog.

    During some of my courses I was asked to use Twitter to find resources and collaborate with people and I had a similar eye roll reaction that you talk about in your post. I try to stay away from too much social media so I struggled with having to sign up for Twitter for assignments. I do not use Twitter often but I should, everytime I go back on I see so many great resources. Your post reminded me to go back onto Twitter and I think I will make more of an effort to network and follow inspiring teachers and librarians. This was a good reminder that Twitter is not only for celebrity gossip but is a great source for professional development.

    For my evaluation course I did not think to use twitter for resources to help with my assignments but after seeing this post I think I may have missed out!

    Thanks for inspiring me to give Twitter another chance!

  4. Hi Sheila! I am taking a course on program inquiry and evaluation and just have been looking through articles that may interest me and I must admit your topic really hit close to home for me! In my B.Ed program, I remember the very first day we were told about how to use our social media properly and to ensure that we had a professional twitter account so that we could post and connect with teachers around the world just like you got told at the workshop. I personally joined after getting my first permanent job and have tried to follow teachers that inspire me to take my teaching to another level and become more innovative. 

    I loved hearing your story on how you didn’t find any evaluators at first but with patience you found a fellow evaluator and a great friend in it all! When I started using Twitter I thought to myself well I will never use to this to connect and become friends with other educators in the world. A few months after I had started to post my classroom ideas and lessons and I began to see that more teachers in the French Immersion side were following me and liking my work and I started to gain more knowledge and friends from it all. 

    I love that you have included specific # to follow that makes it so much easier! In fact, when tweeting I always ensure to put a specific # as I have figured out that’s how you will find more people with similar interests or teaching strategies. 

    You have inspired me to continue posting and scrolling through my Twitter feed and to not give up on it all! 

    Thank you! 

    1. Sheila Robinson

      Hi Christine! So glad you tried Twitter and found it helpful. I too was skeptical when someone first suggested it to me for professional use.

  5. Elizabeth DiLuzio

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

  6. 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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