Twitter as water cooler.

For every twitter user their must be at least 20 twitter sceptics – you know the people who sneer and make weirdly unfunny comments about you being a ‘twit’ (or cruder) and imply that you have to manufacture an online community in order to make up for your lack of immediate community. In addition to these people are another group who are perhaps curious and want to know what the point in it all is. Why Twitter? is no an original question nor will this blog give an original answer but it might just add one or two more Twitterers which is probably no bad thing.

Twitter for me is the water cooler for the global office. It is where your co-workers from the US, Argentina, Mexico, Germany, Italy, India, South Africa, Australia and China gather to exchange ideas, gossip, jokes, banalities, concerns and occasionally insults. Ever wanted to work for a multi-national without actually having to work for a multi-national? Well now you do. In most Twitter communities there is a thread or two holding the followers together – for me it is Education, Education Technology and EFL (or ESL) and most of those who I follow are also in this field. The pleasure that you get from Twitter revolves around the relatively simple idea that if you are enthusiastic about what you do it helps to be able to share that enthusiasm with like minded people. Often, sadly, this is not the case in our physical working environments where you either have no colleagues (self-employed) or are working with people for whom the grudge and drudge took over a long time ago. But with Twitter you can now communicate with equally motivated individuals globally – people who have a ton of good ideas alongside a ton of terrible ideas and some that are simply okay – the point is that they have ideas and are willing to share them.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not leap out of bed every morning (I don’t leap out of bed any morning!) yelling yippee, work today! No-one does, or at least they shouldn’t, not least you will annoy the neighbours. I do, however get a rejuvenated sense of motivation from flipping up the laptop and reading comments from people all over the world who are also just starting, in the middle of or just ending their teaching day and are letting you know what they’ve read, seen, done, heard or thought of that might be of interest to you too. You might also get a little chat going as you hunch over keyboard and coffee and find that someone else shares your cynicism or enthusiasm for IWBs. You may discover coincidentally that your colleague in Peru also likes Erasure’s early music (I said may!) or that another colleague in Sri Lanka clearly needs to improve their repertoire of jokes, you might find yourself directed to and taking part in a fascinating discussion on multi-tasking, fluent teaching or taboo themes in classrooms.

Twitter will not change your life, it could make you enjoy your job more. You do not need to be witty or pithy or original or wise or funny or even there all the time. You need to be enthusiastic about what you do and willing to chat with other like-minded people – you need to be willing to work in an organisation with other colleagues who also like to gather around the Twitter water cooler and chat together. After that you had also better get back to work.

Agree, disagree, add, subtract – love to hear from people


About andrewpickles

Teacher of English in Germany
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3 Responses to Twitter as water cooler.

  1. Hi Andrew!

    Since it was tmy first time in your blog I decided to read the previous posts. have enjoyed them greatly. But felt an urge to leave a comment here 🙂 First let me say I thought your description of twitter as the watercooler of the global office was perfect. I discovered it very recently and it has been a fantastic experience. It’s exactly what you said: meeting people who share the same enthusiasm and love for what you do, like-minded teachers and sharing with them (links, blog posts, articles, questions, jokes, fun…).

    But I dare say I don’t totally agree with you when you say it won’t change your life. In a way, jumping into twitter, building a PLN and sharing with it / learning from it has changed my professional life. It has given me a breath of fresh air, motivation, new resources, ideas to incorporate into my practice, incentive to change old practices – looking for improvement. It’s made me read a LOT more, reflect a lot more, experiment… This is a big change (I had been kind of bored and unmotivated afte 16 years teaching).

    Will sure start visiting you regularly!

  2. Thanks for your response here, and I agree with you that perhaps I was a little unfair on the power of twitter! I have had much the same experience as you describe and possibly it’s true that the level of re-engagement and motivation that you feel from being able to talk to other enthusiastic teachers is life-changing or at least re-affirming,

    best regards


  3. I think this is the best methaphor for Twitter I’ve seen. I love it. I would also agree with cecelialcoehlo that we shouldn’t underestimate it’s power to transform teachers’ lives.

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