I write about Twitter perhaps more than I should. I could write about my 52 books in 52 weeks journey that many others are also doing. I could write some responses to some of the articles in my Gmail from the Chronicle of Higher Education because they are usually good for starting ideas. I could write about what is it like to live in a house with two 100lb dogs, 3 cats, and 1 ferret. I could write movie reviews. I could, I could, I could…but I choose Twitter because there is just SO much that comes from this service that you can talk about.
Today I have a few simple words: community, growth, gratitude.
I’ll elaborate briefly on each because if I don’t limit myself, this would turn into an e-book of cliches, raves, and analogies.
I use Tweetdeck and currently have about 15 columns on the desktop application. When I open it I immediately see feeds for #SAchat, #StudentActivites, #highered, #edtech, #saLEAD, amongst a few others. My favorite part about this is that Twitter went from being a professional development and news delivery service to something resembling a block party. No longer is it necessary to wait for a regional/national conference to discuss higher ed with colleagues. No more is there the need to stalk Facebook to start conversations or catch up on what is going on in your colleagues lives. No more is there a need to count on the newsletters from professional organizations to hear about the latest practices in the field. Twitter is now an on-demand, at your desktop, come and get it venue for all of those! When I open Tweetdeck…it is like opening my front door to see the neighbors and say hello. While we may not see their faces or some may not follow you back, people are sharing, teaching, and learning. I can’t help but think that sometimes looking at the #SAchat feed is like Tim Allen on Home Improvement walking into his backyard to talk to Wilson, the sage who never showed more than his eyes from behind the fence.
If you want to see this community in action, watch some of the self made hashtags some have created to support each other including: #saGrow #saDOC and a much smaller, more focused one that is great to follow to keep some #saDOCs going with support, #statsjail.
Watching Twitter and a following some of the thought leaders (@ReyJunco, @EricStoller) and social media celebrities (@EdCabellon, @StacyLOliver, @The_SA_Blog) in higher education has led, to what I think, has been the most developmental year in my professional career. I joined Twitter as an #saGrad when it first arrived on campus but did not know how to use it. I became engaged with 2 years later Twitter while in a position that had allowed me the time to explore this realm of social media. Since then, I have moved into director position at my alma mater which is a huge opportunity with lots of responsibility and an obvious need to growth professionally with my approach, thinking, and presence. Twitter has been my advisor throughout this entire process. As I continue to grow in my position and expand my reach on Twitter as well as other social media avenues – it has been those that I follow that have served as my coaches. In addition to those already mentioned, following the likes of @Kathy_Petras @OberBecca @DebraSanborn @CarolynGolz @CindyKane @jefflail @tbump and…well I could go on for a while with all of the followers that have taught me something since day 1 but remember I said keeping it brief. The point is this, Twitter has become the watering hole for professional development due to the community I follow and participate in. Twitter has become the backchannel for the larger conference that takes place in Higher Education, it’s called “everyday in the office.”
As I have already given shout outs to many Twitter users that show up on my stream and whose tweets I constantly favorite to read later, I must give thanks. I am a better professional, communicator, creator, writer, contributor, participant, supervisor, student, mentor, coach, advisor, presenter, and person for the growth, support, connections, network, skills, advice, role models, and opportunities that Twitter has afforded me.
And it should come as no surprise that the catalyst for all of this was stumbling upon 6 letters and 1 character: s-a-c-h-a-t and #.
Thanks for reading. I hope this post encourages you to reflect today if you are sitting at home on this snowy/icy day away from the office.