Twitter chats and rigour

I really enjoy twitter chats. I love the way during #edchatNZ that so many passionate educators from around Aotearoa come together to share, discuss, question and learn together. Last night I did something I don’t normally do during the chat. I lurked, or rather, to use a preferred term – I engaged by ‘listening’ (Wise, Speer, Marabout and Hsiao, 2012).

Was I really engaged? I must have been, because here I am, days later thinking about a part of it, and I’ve been mulling over it since I first read the tweets.

Before I go on I have to say that this post is not against twitter chats at all, or even the specific chat that I reference (or those who organised the questions). As I said before, I really enjoy them. I was involved in the first EdchatNZ and love how much it’s grown! These are just my ponderings.

The first question of the edchat was this:

What does personalised learning mean to you?

A good question. The edchat was focused on personalised learning, so it made sense to ask this question.
Below are some of the responses:

  • Knowing your learners and what they are passionate about – @nzleeangela
  • Personalised is sitting with a student developing a learning plan cooperatively over time. A journey, not a set of goals. – @bazzaphotos
  • everyone knows their own next step, no matter what ‘step’ they just took – @bridgetcasse
  • P learning means making it relevant to Ss. Everyone might have different interests so giving ss ops to do things their way – @marywomble
  • fits the learners individual needs in a student-friendly way – @laniewilton
  • learning which is in a student’s ZPD… not too hard / not too easy.. – @kerriattamatea
  • Learning that is accessible for all and for the individual, enabling opportunities at different paces and abilities.. and stds having choice and control over their learning with firm guidance – @robeanne
  • each Ss has study tailored to their learning – @doctor_harves

Now, I have no problem with any of these responses. They are what personalised learning means to each of these people. They are crowd-sourced responses.

But… are they right? Are some more correct than others? Do some people have a misunderstanding about what personalised learning is but they don’t realise it?

Does it matter?

Perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps the only important part is that we’ve got a whole lot of teachers getting together and sharing.

But what if it does matter?

Having worked with someone who used the term personalised learning as meaning (loosely) each student doing their own programme of learning completely separate from other students (which, while not an expert, I would define as individualised rather than personalised), it is clear to me that understanding the terminology we are using is critical to ensure we are all on the same page.

How can you also carry on a rigourous conversation when everyone has a slightly different understanding of what the topic of conversation is or means? Do we need to define the topic during or even before the chat? Where is the evidence or the references – are they important in this environment? I would say that they should be.

What do you think? Does it matter? Perhaps I’ve let my mind blow this out of proportion a little… Some of you might realise I have a thing about edu-babble/educational terminology (see Defining education and Pedagogy – what is this thing?). Anyway – I’m interested to hear your opinion so please leave a comment on my blog if you have any thoughts on the matter.

And while this post wasn’t supposed to be about personalised learning. If you want some more information about what it is, check out:


Wise, A. F., Speer, J., Marbouti, F., & Hsiao, Y. T. (2012). Broadening the notion of participation in online discussions: examining patterns in learners’ online listening behaviors. Instructional Science, 1-21.

Image source: CC-BY 2.0