My Journey in Tweetdom
My journey began about a year ago when I created a Twitter account (@weejan) thinking it was about time I started paying attention to all I was hearing about tweets, twitterers, hashtags, hovercards, short codes, RT (retweets), OH (overheard), mentions, and who to follow. Sure it was all over the media… Twitter was quickly becoming a force in pop culture, among news media, and marketers, but was there really any use for those of us in public education? I decided the best way for me to really get into it was join a fun adventure – the MBTweetRace sponsored by Mercedes Benz.
Four two person teams racing across country in a brand new Mercedes Benz, chalking up points based on tweet fuel. For a fun week in the dead of miserable winter in Wisconsin I followed along, tweeted with the best of them, and saw our Wisconsin team win – coming home with brand new BMW’s after seeing the Pack win the SuperBowl in Dallas. It was fun (we even made videos) simple, and I learned a lot about Twitter during that week.
But… would there be much value for PreK-12 public educators and really seriously “good stuff” to be had via Twitter? That was much more important to me. If you check out Five Words to Describe Twitter on Classroom 2.o you might sense that you could spend a lot of time (wasted time?). Is Twitter really one more habit to feed, a time vampire or a thought spray? And how can that be useful to educators? I think there is a happy medium – it is very much what you make of it. If you let yourself become so absorbed that it becomes all you do – day in and day out — it could consume 150% of your time. If you use it efficiently and effectively and establish balance Twitter can become a great educational resource and a extend your personal learning network.
What is so great about using Twitter in an educational environment?
What I found by spending a good amount of time exploring Twitter (doing searches on topics, looking for education related users to follow, and being an armchair Twitter user checking out both educational and my own interest related experts and topics) is that there is a whole new world out there awaiting those educators who want this added mode of communication, connection, and camaraderie.
1) To get started visit Twitter and the Help Center and spend a good bit of time exploring the basics, learning the twitter lingo, and how to sign up for your own account. If you plan to use your account for education purposes and also for personal use consider creating two separate accounts. It is not a good idea to mix business (especially PreK-12 education) with pleasure or personal interests.
Check your district social media policy and guidelines before you begin! You may not have access to Twitter at school.
2) Once you have your account created you are going to want to find some good educators to follow. There are literally hundreds so it won’t be that hard. I follow 198 Twitter users but many of them are not PreK-12 educators. Some are national or international leaders like Sir Ken Robinson (Do Schools Kill Creativity?) and Diane Ravitch (brilliant education reform leader), others represent awesome resources such as the TED (Ideas Worth Spreading and truly worth every second of your time), and some represent educational technology related companies. A few of my favorites include:
Be aware that there are a lot of companies and people who do use Twitter for self-promotion. Be prepared when you follow companies and people who are authors, consultants, etc. that you may be seeing more “tweet marketing” than you wish to view!
3. To follow someone via Twitter: conduct a search and when you locate their profile, click follow. You can follow people in any of the following ways:
- via the web
- via SMS/text message
- via the mobile website (mobile.twitter.com)
- via third-party application
See Windows Twitter apps, Mac Twitter apps (and others )
You will find educational technology gurus like @Teach1Tech who is really a first grade teacher at one of the elementary schools in my district. @Teach1Tech is an amazing 21st Century technology integrating educator that I recommend you follow. @Teach1Tech shares great resources that you can really use in the classroom.
I have found that @shannonmiller shares tons of great library media and technology resources. @nharm (Naomi Harm) is always on the leading edge in 21st Century learning, great tools to integrate across the curriculum, and is where the action is in educational technology.
4. How to Post Your Tweet: You might want to be like a mouse in the corner and just watch or you might get the courage to begin sharing your own tweets. I did a bit of watching for a while and then decided what could it hurt to share some good edtech resources. Share what you like but you are limited to 140 characters! That’s it!
- Be concise, learn to abbreviate (especially web links - use http://mbcurl.me/ and try to share what you think others would value.
(Holmen staff: do not use bit.ly as it has been used by spammers to hide the true destinations of links in their messages.)
- Use a + instead of and, omit punctuation, use numerals, etc.
- Use 140it to help hone down your posts.
Here are a few examples of my tweets:
5. Don’t be afraid to use the retweet capability. I often do as the folks who follow me may not follow the person posting and might appreciate the resource, idea, or news being shared.
6. There are tons of great “Twitter in Education” web resources to use to help you “get up to speed” and get you thinking about some of the challenges, as well. Here are some to get you started. Thanks to Teach1tech (Tim Nielsen) for contributing the first five web site links!
- A Teacher’s Guide to Twitter
- Twitter- Building a PLN
- Stump the Teacher YouTube Twitter Video
- Simplebooklet: The Twitter Life Cycle
- Twitter for Learning – 55 Great Articles
- Twitter 4 Teachers Wiki by Gina Hartman (great place to find colleagues)
- 50 Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom (lots of ideas!)
- 100 Ways to Teach With Twitter
- Do you use Twitter?(NYTimes)
- Twitter Help for Educators
- Twitter for Teachers
- Bittersweet News for Social Media in Education
- Cure what ails you: a dose of Twitter every day of the school year (Kathy Schrock)
- TeacherTube videos Twitter in plain English (this is a general information overview) and Classroom Use of Twitter (education-related overview)
There are educators connecting via Twitter chats on a regular basis expanding their personal learning networks. Check out Kyle Pace’s Twitter blog for details on finding educator chat groups. Here are a couple of examples. Try searching Twitter on any of the below or other content area followed by the word chat.
1. #edchat – happens Tuesday at noon EST and 7PM (EST)
I am learning from the best (the colleagues I follow like Tim, Naomi, Kyle, Shannon, etc.) and that is the beauty of Twitter. Find folks to follow and events that are fun, inspirational, learn about new resources, hear the latest scoop, and take it or leave it (same with those you follow). It’s just one more resource that will expand your world, consume some time, and maybe even make you laugh!