Twitter has been around for a few years, and like many of you I was reluctant to join the masses. I viewed it as another place to find out what my friends were doing throughout their day to day functions. I never wanted to join because I already had a Facebook account, did I really need another site to visit that would basically duplicate what I am already doing? I didn’t really want to read about how my friend got a new puppy…twice. I also doubted that people wanted to read about how my son covered his entire head with Vaseline…twice.
I had joined last year (when I had a regular classroom) thinking I could use it to update the parents of my students on classroom content using a Twitter Widget on my teacher website. However, at the time it was blocked. It would have been great because parents could follow me (without me following them) and could regularly see what was going on in the classroom straight from their smartphone or computer. Now that it is open for teachers on the East Noble School Network, this would be an option for parents to stay connected.
So what can you as an educator do with Twitter? Here is my advice:
1. Do not use it for any social connections. I have chosen to use it only as a professional resource. Since many teachers follow me for the specific purpose of providing learning materials, I block my personal connections. You can block people from following you by doing this:
2. Follow only people that are going to provide you with the resources you desire. For example: I had two teachers join Twitter this week, and they were pretty reluctant. Who did I have them follow? @Mr_Yoder. They went into the search bar, found my name, and followed only me. Over time, I may recommend other users to follow. This is not a matter of me gathering followers, I merely wanted to first show them that Twitter could be used as a resource. This goes back to my first rule of thumb. I now have a responsibility to make Twitter purely professional. Here is an example of an excellent resource: @markbrumley
3. Use “hashtags” to find what you want. You have probably heard of hashtags, but may not know what they are or what they do. Hashtags merely are a way of connecting your tweets. I frequently add #edtech to my posts so that anyone that does a search on it can find my tweet. Many people tweet quality materials using various hashtags. I recently posted on my Scoopit page a list of educational hashtags. Take a gander at it and try searching one in the searchbar on twitter.
Now that I have shown you a little bit about Twitter, it is up to you to make a decision. Do you think this is a resource you could use? Yes, you could find these types of materials by searching Google, but the thing I like about Twitter is that someone did the searching for me and sent it my way. If you are just wanting a quick, quality read on education, Twitter could be helpful to you.