Reflections on leading a “how-to” #twitterSoE workshop for academics

I delivered my first in a series of social networking workshops for academic researchers that are new to using social media tools.  The session focused on the ‘basics’  of using Twitter, which included an overview of what it is and a step-by-step interactive session on getting to grips with the various functions of the app.  The presentation, including the resources I used, can be found HERE.

It was a really enlightening session, not only for the participants who found it really useful but also for me as a first time trainer in this sort of field.  I have a background in teacher training and teacher development in TESOL, so this skills-type of training (so to speak) was an interesting challenge.  The session was designed to provide a clearer understanding of the purposes of Twitter so that individuals can begin to see for themselves how it can be used to raise their academic profiles.  I could have easily make the session all about using the functions of Twitter, a sort of ‘click here, click there’ presentation, but I didn’t.  Just because someone knows how to use something doesn’t mean that they understand how.  So, I started with presenting what Twitter is which helped raise the curiosity of the participants.  There were a lot of “Ah, I get it!” sort of moments in the beginning, which was great.

From there the session focused on trying out the different functions of Twitter while at the same time tying the practical aspects to the purpose of Twitter.  For example, we looked at how to mention someone in the tweet and why this could be an important tool for networking with other researchers (i.e. highlight interesting / important info relevant to a particular individual).  We looked at retweeting tweets and why this is useful for sharing resources with others.

What I took away from that session was that just because I know how to use something doesn’t mean that I necessarily could show others how to use it as clearly as it ‘seemed’ in my own head.  In other words, just because it makes sense to me doesn’t mean that it’s clear to others.  You’d think that someone who has teacher training experience would understand this!  I was aware of this gap when developing the content but teaching on a more technical level was a challenge that I’m looking forward to in developing in my own teaching practice.

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