Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Twitter Tips

Since the beginning of my blog, I've focused mainly on how technology can be utilized for students within the classroom.  However, there are so many great tools out there for teachers that help build our professional knowledge, keep us organized, help achieve paperless status, and a slew of other things.

Over the past 5 years Professional Learning Communities (PLC) have been the buzzword in districts and systems nationwide.  Individual schools have PLCs, districts have PLCs, etc.  Personal Learning Networks (PLN) have also come alongside PLCs.  We all have PLNs within in our own circles.  PLNs consist of the people you bounce ideas off of, learn from each other, sharpen each other's craft.  These may be colleagues within your building or within your district, but they could also be people you have never met face to face.  With social media, many PLNs have a strong presence online.  I know that is true for me personally.  I use Twitter to connect with my PLN on a daily basis.  My PLN contains people from around the globe.  Just last night, I was chatting with someone from New Zealand about the technology conference I just attended.

For the last 2 years, Twitter has been the source of my PLN.  I've been able to connect with worldwide educators and the walls of my PLN have been blown apart.  I no longer think of learning just from people I see face to face.  I join Twitter chats at least twice a week and connect to some amazing people.

Twitter is a simple social media site that is used to post "micro-blogs."  Where Facebook doesn't limit your status updates, Twitter limits your update to 140 characters or keystrokes (includes spaces).  If you include someone's Twitter handle (username), that also counts in your character count, as well as hashtags.

Just a few tips as you start out on Twitter:

1. No one follows an egg - George Champlin
One of my PLN members held a great Twitter session at the Upstate Technology Conference last week and he said this.  Educators want to follow someone with a face. Change your profile image so everyone knows you are a real person with real ideas.

2.  Limit Hashtags
Unlike Instagram where hashtags are all the rage, in Twitter, hashtags are actually used to connect you to locate tweets about a particular topic.  So, when you include a hashtag of #myfirsttimetotweet, if you search for tweets with the same hashtag, you will probably find few.  However, if you use purposeful hashtags like #edtech, #5thchat, etc.  you will find lots of tweets with the same tag and pick up some great ideas

3.  Lurk and Learn - Kitty Tripp
My friend, Kitty used this term in a Twitter class this week and I thought it was great!  This is one social media site where "stalking" is highly encouraged.  You can connect through chats using hashtags at certain times each evening, but even just hanging out and reading tweets is beneficial.

4.  Add to your network
Follow people and thank them when they follow you.  One thing to keep in mind, if you follow someone on Twitter, you can see what they tweet out, but they cannot see what you tweet out.  In order for both people to see each other, you both have to follow one another.  On the same line, in order to send a direct message, you must be following the person you are messaging.

If you are brand new to Twitter, my dear friend Kitty has a great post using screen shots about what the screens mean in Twitter.  You can find her at EdChat with KAT.

If you want to connect with me, I'm @ShastaLooper.  Would love to see you there!

I found this great infographic that lays out all of the Twitter vocabulary that you will encounter on your Twitter journey.
Created by @UKEdChat

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