Monday, 12 November 2012

Why I love the 'Twitterverse'!

The Twitter Logo
I've been using Twitter for several years now.  I remember that one of the earliest proponents of this new social media was Stephen Fry and, being a big fan of his work, I thought that if he could see value in it, then I should check it out, too!!  Since I joined Twitter, there have been periods when I used it too much - times when it was almost taking over, to the detriment of other things I should have been doing.  Conversely, there have been other times when I haven't used it at all - not checking my Twitter account for months on end.  For the last year or two, however, I think I have found a happy medium when it comes to Twitter. 

Currently, I use Tweetdeck to manage my Twitter use.   I keep an eye on things by using hashtags - so much easier than trying to follow everything that's going on!  I'm not a slave to it.  I usually check my account in a morning before I go to work and then again a couple of times in an evening.

So, why use Twitter at all?  What do I get out of it?
Well, firstly, Twitter is usually the first place I see the news - via @BBCBreaking, @guardiannews,  or @TelegraphNews.  My news is delivered in bite-sized chunks together with links I can click on if I want to read more about a particular story.

It is also how I satisfy my curiosity about the world of celebrity!  I follow a few famous people who have interesting things to say.  As well as @stephenfry, I particularly enjoy the tweets of @eddieizzard, @prodnose (Danny Baker), @mjhucknall (Mick Hucknall of Simply Red who tweets about good food and great wine), @bobbyllew (Robert Llewellyn of Red Dwarf fame), and @simonmayo.

Courtesy of the BBC
Twitter is also how I follow my interests and hobbies.  For example, I am keen on genealogy, so I follow a number of groups and individuals who share that interest (@ancestrydotcom, @WDYTYA, @Archivescom, etc.).  My passion for film is kept alive by following @wittertainment, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Twitter account which supports their excellent film review podcast from Radio 5 Live.  My interest in keeping up-to-date with sport, particularly tennis, is satisfied by following certain Twitter accounts, as are my hobbies of cooking, photography and, above all, travel.  There are too many great Twitter travel accounts to mention here, but amongst my favourites are @indietravel, @lonelyplanet, @wanderlustmag, and @TelegraphTravel.

Over the years, I have also become involved in several charities and campaigns to raise public awareness of certain issues through Twitter, not least @comicrelief, @ProjectPangolin and @charitywater.

At times of great global events, such as the recent London Olympics and Paralympics, I keep up with latest developments through their Twitter accounts.

Mark, myself, Tara & JC
Whenever I move to a new country (as I often do in my line of work!), one of the first things I do is look for relevant Twitter accounts to follow - people and organisations that will help me to adapt to my new surroundings with ease.  This has always been a successful ploy, especially here in Vietnam.  When I first arrived here, I started following several Saigon and Hanoi based bloggers, such as Steve Jackson (@ourman), @mekongmadness, @VietTravelGuy, and @MikeInVietnam.  My best follows, though, had to be Tara and JC Vargas (alias @HerDailyDigest and @kingceejay), a couple from the Phillippines who moved to Saigon several years ago and who both blog about and post pictures of Vietnam and give lots of advice to newbies like me.  Reading their accounts of trips to different places has saved us so much wasted time finding things out for ourselves and has led us to visit locations we might not have thought of.  After a few false starts, we were fortunate to meet up with them in person a few weeks ago.  We spent a very pleasant lunchtime with them in a Saigon restaurant and hope that it will be the first of many such meetings.

So, I have already listed several good reasons why I use Twitter and what I get out of it, but I've yet to mention the most important - for my professional development as an EFL teacher and manager.  Through Twitter, I am connected to a huge circle of dedicated professionals living and working in almost every country on earth.  We exchange ideas about all aspects of our jobs.  Whichever time zone we are in, there is invariably someone online to answer a query or to offer links and advice about something which is troubling us.  The PLN (personal learning network) I have developed through Twitter has grown gradually and organically over time and, although I have never met the majority of the teachers in person, I feel like they are friends and colleagues.

All of the articles I read, the webinars I attend, and the ideas I share with my 'real-life' colleagues at EIU, come from tweets and links posted by my PLN.  This invaluable information comes through throughout the week, but there are two hours every Wednesday when it comes thick and fast!  These are the times when a number of us get together to debate an issue in a forum we call #eltchat.  You can read about how it works here.   It is clear how much I value my #eltchat sessions when you see how many summaries I've written! 

I'm not going to list the teachers I follow on Twitter - they know who they are and there are too many of them to name individually.  I will, however, mention a couple, just to illustrate the power of this great tool.  The first is @teacherphili who I 'met' through Twitter and who, just last week, came to work with me at EIU in Vietnam.  The other is Lesley Cioccarelli (@cioccas), a teacher from Australia who I haven't met in person yet, but with whom I am presenting at CamTESOL 2013.  I'm really looking forward to collaborating with her on this project and to welcoming her to Vietnam before the conference so that I can show her EIU and share with her what we are trying to achieve here.

These reasons, and others too numerous to mention, are why I love the 'Twitterverse' and why I will continue to use it - for facts, fun and friendship!!


  1. speechless!

    Thank u Andrea!

    I also have to confess right here: You are our favorite in Vietnma tweeps too! :-) Online and offline!

    We also love Mark!

    See u soon!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tara!

      Enjoy the rest of your trip - we look forward to seeing you when you get back!

  2. Thanks for reminding us about the great uses of twitter for more than just cpd. The advice on following travel guides and finding contacts for a country you're moving to is really good and honestly I'd never thought about it!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Chris. I've picked up so much useful info through Twitter whenever I've travelled - I'd certainly recommend it! Made some good friends, too! :-)

  3. A wonderful post, and reflecting my feelings about Twitter for professional development. I have to admit that most of the rest of my Twitter feed is swamped with work-related stuff these days, but you've reminded me about some of the other great reasons for using Twitter.

    Thanks for the mention too :-) I'm very much looking forward to visiting you in Vietnam and spreading the word about #ELTchat, Twitter, and more at CamTESOL 2013!

    1. Thanks for reading, Lesley - and for taking the time to comment!

      We'll have to get together soon to start planning our workshop.