What are some benefits and challenges to using Twitter as a tool to engage and/or develop your PLN?

We've been talking a lot about various ways to contribute to and benefit from the conversations happening around the world through social media tools, specifically those conversations that enrich our knowledge as educators.  What are some benefits and challenges you experienced with Twitter, especially as a tool to engage and develop your personal/professional learning network?

Tags: socialmedia101

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Now that I am set up on Twitter and have an app on my iPhone, I think I'm starting to get it! One of the beneifts is that it is a quick read, and many websites have a Twitter link that make it easy to get their Reader's Digest version (wow, I guess that's an old phrase now). It seems that Twitter may be a faster gateway to topics of interest and PLNs, and lead me to look for more info on a blog or website when I have time. Seems to be a good way to ask a quick question. I have found it easier to find professionals in my field (mostly conference presenters) on Twitter than through a topical Google search for blogs or PLNs.
The challenge is that there doesn't seem to be an obvious roadmap yet on how to make the most of Twitter professionally. It seems that it will take some more time and trial and error. Hopefully following one professional in my field will lead to other connections. I also agree with Hilary--if you get behind, it seems to be time consuming to catch up.
The obvious benefit would be the speed of sharing information like PD books, links, questions, etc. The most hindering aspect of Twitter is the 140 character limit. Like some of us said through Tweeting, it's hard to shorten words using "texting" language when we are so used to getting on our students about writing properly. My dad is an editor, and thinks that email, texting, and online chatting are the downfall of good grammar and spelling. I would have to agree with him to some extent. If we as teachers allow this kind of language to infiltrate formal papers, we will have a problem later on! Luckily, I know teachers, and they don't put up with it:-) If anything, social networking and chatting has made me a much more accurate and faster typist...this is something my students wish they were in 4th grade. I know it will come with time for them though!
I continue to contemplate uses for Twitter. I am definitely challenged by the 140 character limit which has already taught me much about myself. I suppose Twitter would be a good tool for quick snatches of information, sound bytes, just a brief message to check in or lead to other information. I must admit to feeling a bit constrained.

Did anyone read the article about Tweets that may eventually be archived in the Library of Congress? Is this true? Why would anyone want to do this? The article can be found here: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2010/04/lib...

There were also a few links to "important tweets." For instance one was referencing Barack Obama's tweet when he won the presidential election. Sorry to say my tweets are pale in comparison. Maybe I should work on this. The library notes that Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets a day and says its emphasis will be on the "scholarly and research implications of the acquisition." I think they are serious.
I agree with much of what others have already voiced. A benefit is that you can find information on just about anything you want on twitter within seconds. If you click on any of the "browse suggestions" options, then you immediately find a ton of resources, websites, or people interested in the same topic as you. This gives you a chance to make connections with people and learn more about the topics of your choice. This, of course, carries over in education, too. Just from following out class, I was able to click on some people's followers and saw that they also had something in common with me (for example, they also taught third grade.) So I started following them and can now see what they are up to in their classrooms. I also think the "home" page is a quick and easy way to check in and see if there is anything new going on (educational or personal) with people you are following.

A challenge that I think I will constantly have with my PLN is the inevitable time factor. Like Hilary said, days will go by when I am too busy to check all my new websites and PLN I have created so far. When I sign back in, I feel like I am too far behind. To go back and review everything I missed seems like it may take more time than I have. Another challenge is for me to decide how many of my tweets should be professional and how many personal. A few of my outside school friends have started following me and I don't want my "educational" followers to stop following me because I only write social tweets, but I don't want my "social" followers to stop following me because all I do is tweet about education. I guess I will have to just balance out my short tweets. In reality, if someone gets bored of my tweets and stops following me, I don't think I will take it personally :) It's just interesting the different reasons people use twitter. I will stick to trying to use it for both educational and personal use.
I have a difficult time remembering to check my Twitter regularly, even though I have an app on my phone. When I do get one, one of the problems I am finding is people do not post very often, and when they do it isn't always about things related to education and the PLN we are trying to establish. I have a bad habit of using it like a Facebook status update, when I should be using it to update my correspondence with other educators. I find it difficult to get out what I want to say in only 140 characters, especially when I REALLY want to use proper grammar and spelling. I need to follow more people, but I do not just want to follow random people... I need more people from this class and from other educational forums in order to fulfill my need for social networking. I have Facebook for the "social" stuff... I need to utilize the resources I have for the "educational" stuff.

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