The digital networks week was tough for me and also, eye-opening.  As I listened to Bonnie Stewart’s talk with a previous #digpins group, I was struck by the idea of using Twitter for professional development.  While I have never been an avid Twitter user (I joined a couple of years ago during my first try at #digpins), I had the impression that Twitter was a place to share short, day-to-day updates about what’s happening (e.g., celebrities sharing about their lunch or most recent workout).

This week, as I reconsidered my presence on Twitter, I was struck with the opportunity to make professional connections rather than (purely) social connections.  Big realization this week: time on Facebook feels like eavesdropping while time on Twitter feels like learning. Time spent on Twitter felt productive and gave me new things to think about and new ways of thinking.

In the article entitled, “Critical Digital Citizenship: Promoting Empathy and Social Justice Online,” Maha Bali reflected, “Even though there is a lot of evidence to the contrary, I believe it (social media) can, if we use it thoughtfully and responsibly. The key, for me, is not in browsing a hashtag randomly, but in getting to know individuals over time, and understanding their contexts and the nuances behind what they tweet and post on their Facebook status, and then also by being thoughtful and intentional about what we ourselves write and share and amplify.”  The write, share, and amplify stood out to me as what I was missing when thinking about Twitter before this week. I thought of it as fluffy, now I better understand the opportunity is so much larger.

I’m a big fan of Clifton Strengths.  Before this week started, I thought my top five strengths would hinder ability to engage on Twitter but now I see how they will help me.  My top five themes (in order) are Learner, Deliberative, Harmony, Focus, Discipline. (Descriptions found here).  Without too much detail, I see that my Learner theme is fed by all of the information on this platform.  I hope that Focus and Discipline will help me from falling into rabbit holes and that my Deliberative theme will help me in choosing who to follow (and unfollow) as well as provide a check and balance for a hasty tweet.  

This week, I reached out to a colleague via Twitter and it resulted in an email from her and a reconnection about work and life.  I also read an article that struck me so I posted it and received one like (I’ll take it) from a former student. I worked to expand my personal learning network and I love being able to follow folks I don’t know and explore their feeds to see if they are sharing great content (passing around the tasty appetizers, to paraphrase Bonnie Stewart). I’m still searching for some role models on Twitter.  Armed with more information, I now know I’m looking for different folks. Previously, I wanted to find folks who were good at using Twitter for their jobs (tweeting about campus events, retweeting photos from campus accounts, etc) and now I know I’m looking for folks who are talking about important issues and making their presence known and valued.

I will continue to explore Twitter and make connections with “my people” to keep current on issues in student affairs, service-learning, and community engagement as well as other areas of interest.

Btw, you can follow me on Twitter @jnissenphd

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