I learn more about global news. I read a wider variety of literature (both fiction and non-fiction), learning about books of interest from my followers and Tweeps I follow. I listen to more podcasts. I follow people who make me a better person, and I unfollow those who bring negativity into my stream. I am more reflective on my pedagogy. I have also become selective in how much time I spend on chats and 'stream fishing.' I just coined that term to mean the time I spend scrolling through my home feed at any given time. I also have won prizes while participating in Twitter-related events. I won't lie. That little rush of endorphins definitely made me want to keep participating.
I do think that today's constantly-changing-screen-view-world perceived in 15 to 20 minute bursts has made me distractible in a way I never was before. I am still an avid reader with a sustained focus my own children can't begin to match, but I do find my attention wandering more quickly than it used to. I do think short bytes of screen life, including Twitter fishing, has had an impact. This is decidedly not a benefit. But...it has made me cognizant that I cannot lecture and expect my students to retain all the information. I have to match their attention span with breaks in the action, so-to-speak.
Most surprisingly, though, is the realization that I have become a more critical thinker, if that's even possible. I am making new neural connections in the same way we hope our students will. As I am exposed to new information in a less categorical setting, my brain is cross-referencing information in a new way. Twitter has helped me to get out of the box of organized thinking and into the broad view that I want my students to have. Being able to see a wide swath of information at a time and drawing previously unforeseen relationships between ideas is what the 21st century learner must be able to do.
By choosing to follow a wide array of people on Twitter, carefully selected - tailored to my own personal interests and needs, I am engaging in my own continuing education, without the requisite assessments. By following people NOT in my field, who do NOT teach my subject matter or age group, I am exposing myself in a risk-free environment to new thoughts, topics and ideas.
It took me quite a while to get to this place with Twitter. Boy, what a nice view!