Should you Twitter at work? Should it be acceptable to your employer that you spend time during your work day on Twitter? I will only answer for myself, and my answer is yes. Although, I must add that I generally use my Twitter and Facebook networks differently. The majority of my Twitter network is a group of professionals. A group of knowledgeable, insightful, and helpful professionals. During the work day, I will scan my network’s tweets for relevant blog posts, articles, breaking news, classroom tools, project ideas, links, and they’re always good for a laugh or two. I also spend time tweeting any of those previously mentioned items, plus requests for help to solve technical issues, suggestions for classroom resources, input on philosophical discussions, and support. Sometimes I wonder how I knew about anything before Twitter! 😉
The drive behind this post is born out of comments and inquiries about whether or not Twitter and other social networking sites (Facebook) have a place during the school day. I believe they can be used appropriately during work hours. I believe the sites themselves are not inherently bad. I believe the general perspective on Twitter is that it is just another social networking site. This standpoint comes mainly from how the media has portrayed it in the news and on talk shows. To me, it is so much more than that. I personally use Facebook as more of a social outlet and Twitter as more of a professional network. Some of my network overlaps between the two sites, but as a general rule I use them quite differently.
So should teachers be discouraged or “get in trouble” for using a social networking site at school? I am of the opinion that these sites can be used appropriately during the work day. Generally, I don’t see a modest amount of posting to Facebook or Twitter much differently than I do talking in the hallway to another person in the hallway or faculty room during school. You’re merely communicating with people that you are not able to converse with face-to-face. Is there a potential for abuse of this? Sure, but as professional educators I believe the majority of us are prudent about what and how much we post. If there are educators who lack this good judgement, I’m confident they will be addressed much in the same manner they would if they made inappropriate verbal comments, or if they mistreated students.
I don’t view the use of these sites by teachers during the work day as tremendously problematic. As evidenced in the recent news articles, there are teachers that misuse them regarding how often they post and what they post. It is my belief that if we, as educators, want to be looked upon and treated like professionals by the rest of the world then we need to behave in such a manner. If my boss came to me and asked me to justify my use of Twitter at work, I could absolutely warrant the use of my network during the work day! If you have any ideas, examples, opinions, or general comments; please feel free to join me in this discussion and leave a comment.