Spaces for Innovation

My Year on Twitter

Reflecting on my year on Twitter

Well, it has been almost a year since I decided to take the plunge and venture into the twitosphere  with much encouragement from my friend and YRDSB colleague @digitalnative. I wrote about my early venture into Twitter in two previous posts (Are You a Twit and Proud of It?  &  #BMEday: Releasing the Possibilities) and thought it was indeed time to get back into the mode of reflecting on my experiences with social media. So here it goes– a look into the year of my life on Twitter…

Over the course of the year I have seen my PLN followers grow from 20 to over 800, and the number of amazing people and organizations I follow expand to over 780. In July, 2011, I had sent out around 100 tweets and wondered if, or when, I would ever reach 1000. Today (July 29th, 2012) I have sent out over 6,000 tweets (which I would have never have imagined possible) capturing all kinds of key resources and remarkable learnings from amazing educators, artists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, coaches and leaders from around the world. The vast majority of these tweets involving topics dear to my heart–innovation, creativity, the arts, leadership and learning, and of course, my family 🙂

I remember feeling extremely tentative about tweeting while participating in Professional Development. I found it challenging to listen and formulate a tweet at the same time. I found I was intensely worried about missing information. I realized, that as my skill with this new note-taking process increased, I became a much more deliberate listener. Rather than trying to capture everything, I found myself really focussing in on the nuggets shared. Now, tweeting during professional learning is second nature to me and I wouldn’t think of taking notes in any other way! If there is no #hashtag, I am not afraid to create one (although I have discovered in the world of twitter, some are really less appropriate than others!!)

A year ago, I had just discovered Instagram and Storify (thanks to @OnTheSuperFly) and was starting to explore the concept of curation via Scoopit (thanks to amazing examples by my gurus @baibbb and @AnaCristinaPrts). (Click on the images below to access the scoopits by Ana and Baiba)

A year ago, I had not yet heard of Pinterest, but while visiting my family in B.C. at Christmas time, my sister in-law introduced me to this wonderful tool. Since then, I have been pinning links and information about fabulous apps, technologies and platforms people are using to enhance learning and teaching; tools used for creating, sharing and mobilizing knowledge across the web; and ways institutions and individuals are transforming education through their innovation and spaces for creativity. Here are some of the great pinners I am currently following (who also happen to be some of the great Tweeps in my Twitter PLN):









Three months ago I decided to take the “twitter process” of note taking to a different level by capturing tweets in a series of Storify’s. While I still have a long way to go with using this tool effectively, I see great potential in it. Using storify has allowed me to capture in a single place, key learning emparted through tweets—my own, as well as those of others. I have also used it as a way to capture chats for conferences I have not attended but am following via Twitter (SFU Summer Institute, Calgary Science School & #connected 2012; #ADE2012, #BLC12 and #DENSI2012). Using Storify as a “lurker” to these conference chats has helped me synthesize what is happening with the learning even though I am not able to be there in person.

I see great potential in schools/classrooms using Storify as a means of synthesizing learning. After tweets have been sent out on a specific topic (within a learning opportunity or series of learning opportunities) students could be asked to create a storify that captures the key learning from their and other peoples’ tweets. By adding in additional text, links and media sources to expand on their perspectives, students are able to create rich representations of the learning that they have experienced and the knowledge that has been co-created. In school communities and organizations trying to make meetings and learning more visible, Storify could be used to capture minutes of meetings and interactions. In my current work as a Student Achievement Officer I see the potential of utilizing a series of storify’s as a way to capture the journey of learning at district Principal Learning networks that I attend and support; these storify’s becoming the representative portfolio of collaborative work that has taken place in different areas and regions of a school district and could be shared out to other stakeholders within a board and between boards to further mobilize learning.

As I reflect on my year on Twitter, I recognize that it has been a huge time commitment. As my husband often commented, “Are you on Twitter again? … Still?” One can easily spend hours consuming and gathering endless sources of information, only to be overwhelmed by it all. Wondering where I have squirreled away information and whether I will even use it or revisit it again is a constant inner dialogue! Maintaining balance and “sanity” in one’s life while using Twitter for professional learning requires a methodical, disciplined approach and that is my goal for this next year—balancing my desire for ongoing professional learning with my need to be more unplugged and out in nature; finding that ‘just right” amount of time dedicated to each aspect of my life is not an easy feat, but worthy of the effort. In the end, however, I am extremely thankful for the learning that has resulted as a result of venturing whole-heartedly into this space. I have connected with fabulous individuals and organizations, and via the websites, twitter chats, wiki spaces, Livebinders, and published resources that are regularly shared, I have had the opportunity to challenge and grow my thinking, learning more on a daily basis, than in thirty years of “one-off” professional development opportunities. I look forward to a new year ahead– one of “balanced connectedness”. Thanks, everyone, for continually enriching, supporting and contributing to my learning moments:

A B C G H I  M N O S T U

























































































D E F J K L P Q R V W X Y Z Other
























































2 comments on “My Year on Twitter

  1. Vicky Loras
    July 31, 2012

    Hi Karen!

    Happy Twitter birthday – it has been great connecting with you and reading your tweets. I love the tweet notes you have created on Storify!

    I wish you many more years on Twitter and here’s to more learning from/with you!

    Best wishes,

    • Karen Steffensen
      August 1, 2012

      Thanks, Vicky! I have enjoyed so much connecting with wonderfully dynamic educators such as yourself. I am looking forward to many more years, too. When we reach beyond our own spaces and connect with others, we have the opportunity to see possibilities that cannot yet be seen and truly grow learning, teaching and the organizations, places and spaces we call school. Thanks again:-)

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