Twitter for Educators
May 16, 2011 6 Comments
During a recent session at our school, I introduced some of the staff to Twitter with an inservice which was entitled, “How can I use Twitter as a professional development tool?”
In this session, I started with the message that Twitter is only as good as the people that you follow. I have experienced that there are many people on Twitter who are willing to share and learn new ideas, thoughts, and articles. The internet is so vast and it is awesome to have a learning network on Twitter that helps me to navigate through the many sites, blogs, etc. Here is a cool story about how I got hooked on Twitter as a PD tool.
Anyway…here are some things that we addressed in our introductory Twitter session:
Who do I follow? Start by following a few people that you know. Then, see who they follow and follow some of those. Before you know it, you will be following a hundred people. It is not a bad thing to unfollow someone…they will never know and they probably won’t take it personally.
How do I have time for this? Don’t let Twitter consume your life. If you have a few minutes here or a few minutes there…that is enough. If you use a smart phone you can read and tweet as you are waiting for your kids, or standing in line at the grocery store. On a computer, it is great to take a break and see what’s going on on Twitter. Would you glance at a newspaper while you had lunch?
I don’t feel like I have anything to contribute! That’s ok, just read if you want to but I think that everyone has something to share. Share some great things that are going on in your classroom, share some resources, share a link to an article that you are reading, take a picture of a great piece of art and tweet that. See a great quote…tweet it!
What are all those funny symbols?
- @ is used to designate a user’s name (eg. @hatcherelli – that’s me).
- # is called a hashtag. It is used to tag a tweet into a certain category (eg. #edchat – is a conversation about education, #abed is alberta education) so that tweets pertaining to that subject can be searched. If you are a math teacher, you may want to check out #mathchat. The hashtag that we agreed that we would use for our school is #httrojans. For more on hashtags, check out this article by Bill Ferriter
- D is a direct message. You can send someone (they have to be following you) a direct message that no one else sees.
Should I protect my tweets? I think it is a good idea. That way, you have to approve someone to follow you. Also, if someone (like a student) throws your name into Google, they will see that you have a Twitter account but it will tell them that your tweets are protected. Privacy aside, I would never tweet anything that I wouldn’t say publically…a good rule of thumb. I would be totally comfortable if the superintendent were to follow me on Twitter. Since I use it for professional purposes, I keep it professional.
Social Media Aggregators can be used to get all of your social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) sent to the same place. I use Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. Hootsuite is great because it is web-based and does not require any downloading.
Since we offered the Twitter session here at school, many teachers have come by the office to share their regrets for not attending the session. “Sorry I didn’t make it to the session, but I don’t use Twitter…Twitter’s a waste of time”. To this I reply, “Then you are not using it right…here, let me show you!”