In this module of EDTECH 543 (Social Network Learning) we used Twitter chats and live webinars for professional development. I have used Twitter for professional development for some time but had never participated in chats. One of the reasons I never did was the difficulty keeping up with random tweets and the tweets related to the chats in my Twitter feed. TweetDeck made this task much easier.
Twitter chats are live discussions about a topic usually formulated as questions by the moderator. Unfortunately, you are at the mercy of the topic chosen by the moderator. Thus, it’s not useful for solving problems or knowledge deficits that aren’t the topic of the chat. They also occur at scheduled times and thus aren’t helpful answering questions when you have them. What is useful about them is that usually nationally, and sometimes internationally, recognized experts on a topic share their experiences and knowledge. Usually, useful resources also get shared.
Webinars are basically lectures broadcast on the web. Some of them have discussion areas where participants can discuss concepts or ask questions. I found webinars much less useful. I couldn’t find any on medical education during the time of this assignment. Most of the ones I found were geared toward K-12 educators (which I am not) or were at times when I couldn’t participate. They were also on topics I didn’t care about nor need to know more about. The ones I did participate in weren’t as participatory as the discussions in Twitter chats. They also use technology that often isn’t widely available or user friendly. My institution doesn’t use some of the tools these were broadcast on. Some of them were only available to paid members of professional organizations. I signed up for one on Adobe Connect and I never could get it to work through the Connect app on my iPad. A couple I signed up for would never allow me to log in despite multiple attempts. Thus, I only participated in 2 webinars. Webinars suffer the same problems I noted above for Twitter chats (not in time and not problem specific).
I doubt I will use webinars much for PD in the future. I will continue to participate in Twitter chats when the topics are of interest. Below is a Word document discussing the chats and webinars I participated in and what I gleaned from them.