At a conference I am given a list of about 20 different sessions I can attend at any one time. After reading carefully through the program I select the one that seems most applicable tome. I shlep myself and my swag bag filled with pencils and penny candy through a crowded hotel and sit in a room with a speaker whose presentation may or may not coincide with what was written in the program. By time I figure out it wasn't what I thought it was, the rooms are filled up and there's nowhere to go. I'm sweaty, anxious, annoyed and disappointed. This is often my experience. I'm the WORST session picker ever. I think I'd do better if I just closed my eyes and pointed to one. My personal choosing failure at conferences has pushed me in new directions.
I only attended one official conference this year, but I feel like I'm at a conference each and every day I log on to Twitter. I know I wrote about it last week, but it is truly the most impactful "conference" on my professional development. Thanks to my PLN and @RyanPForan, my Twitter Yoda, much I learn.
I can log in at any moment and type in any hashtag to see what the latest trends, research and practice that are happening surrounding a topic I care about. I can log off, walk away, ask a question, find additional resources, consult an expert or add my own thoughts. Twitter was created for an educator like me - an extroverted introvert. I can participate at my level of comfort and bail out when I want.
Twitter chats are like pop-up conferences, but instead of a sage on the stage, it's a truly collaborative process. Tweeps naturally get into side conversations based on their interest and knowledge and everyone leaves satisfied - or at least not unsatisfied. In one hour of a chat I get more than a 3 hour workshop.
And the variety....oh the variety - If I can't find it on Twitter, it probably doesn't exist. There are chats for every topic imaginable, and they provide a global perspective whereas traditional conferences are often regional and occasionally national -that is if you're lucky enough to have a district that will send you. It's interesting hearing how things are done in Australia or Canada. By comparing and contrasting school systems we learn about things we may not have even considered.
Untraditional. Flexible. Collaborative. International. Free. Connected. Knowledgable. Relevant. Choice. Twitter.