How Twitter really helped me for the first time ... And something that did not change

Since I've been to the Ed-Media conference in Lisbon, I've been plunging into the Twitter-river and this Personal Learning experience everyone was talking about. And I must admit, it has been fun, great to connect to people, amazing to see how fast you can get to new and up-to-date information. But the last couple of days, it has become a really personal learning experience for me. And that amazes me even more. Twitter was for me like receiving 5 sets of daily newspapers every day. And reading lots of interesting stuff in those newspapers. At best, I was able to transpone content of those articles to my own teaching. Like when I came across WeVideo on Twitter, or useful articles about connectivism, and started using that in my courses. That is of course very valuable! But now, it is like I received a newspaper where the editors specifically wrote an article, directly addressed to me. Instead of the enormous flow of information, this time it was really a specific answer to a personal question.

Let me first thank Alec Couros and Jennifer Borgioli. Because their genuinely offered help was essential.

In the teacher training programme at Het Perspectief, Ghent Belgium, ICT always has had a central position. In creating a powerful learning environment we implemented ICT throughout the entire curriculum and so we try to offer future teachers the skills needed for valuable use of ICT in their lessons. But we were missing those who are already teaching a bit.

A lot of good initiatives and  life-long learning programs are taken in Flanders and most teachers show a lot of courage in life-long-learning. But we felt that a specific ICT course for teachers with social media and focus on the didactical use of ICT was  an interesting idea. So we started a distance learning course using blogs and Twitter to enhance the ICT skills of teachers and educators. In this course I was struggling with the quality rubric to assess their portfolio-blogs and aimed at Twitter for help. @DataDiva came across my Tweet and offered her expertise and wiki about Quality rubrics. That has been a real help for me. @courosa addressed his network and people came up with great examples. This also helped me a lot. And you know what? On top of this personal and authentic experience, I'm in a state of digital flow (second time I mention the word 'flow').

Flow as Csikszentmihalyi created the term, is a state of mind where I feel fully engaged in what I'm doing. "Yes, that's what is all about". Shining eyes. "This is it for me". You know the feeling... When collaborating with people in a constructive way, a kind op positive energy is created. (Flow is an essential element in Positive Psychology).

Generating flow in a learning experience really opens up the atmosphere and the learning becomes naturel. I've been lucky to experience flow with my classes in contact, but this time, flow occurred in distance learning. With people I don't really personally know. People from across the Atlantic. And that was new to me. Digital Flow was born ...

Apart from flow, the character strengths of people also play an important role. Korthagen and others (Bram Lagerwerf, Angelo Vasalos IML , Frits Evelein, ...) have done great work on that and have been very inspiring to me. The books "Leren van binnenuit" (learning from inside out) and "Werken vanuit je kern" are a valuable link for me between positive psychology and (teacher) education.

Which character strenghts did I see with Alec and Jennifer? A genuine openness and willingness to help people. Care, warmth, inspiration, involvement and commitment. Those character strengths, elements of their identity and integrity made a difference for me. "Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique, good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher" (Parker Palmer), isn't that what we all remember about our teachers of who we found that they were making the difference?

In my question about quality rubrics I could have gone to the library (which I would have done 15 years ago). And hopefully I would have found a librarian that offered genuine help. If not, my visit to the library would possibly be more frustrating.

The character strengths of the librarian are also essential. And that is something that is not new. The Twitter and connectivist approach, that is new for me and I am amazed about that. But the identity and integrity of those who teach are still the same.

Yes, I am in the Twitter river now, and understand how you can move forward in a fast way. By gentle backstrokes I go with the flow instead of only playing around, jumping in and out (which I will do again, because it is lots of fun). I feel that sometimes sitting on the river bank, reflecting on things is also important. And then jumping back in without the worry that the river has moved forward and perhaps I've missed something. Because it needs to flow. Stationary waters become muddy.