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Why Twitter Matters

Page history last edited by Bill 9 years ago

Why Twitter Matters:  An Introduction to a New Digital World for Solution Tree Authors


Session Website Address:  http://bit.ly/stwhytwittermatters


Exploding on the social media scene in July of 2006, Twitter---a microblogging service that allows users to publicly share and follow short, 140-character messages with one another---has rapidly become one of the most popular online destinations on the Web.  Sadly---thanks to a sea of politicians posting naughty pictures and celebrities pumping their own egos---Twitter is often poorly understood.  In this 60 minute webinar designed for Twitter beginners, Solution Tree social media author and full-time classroom teacher Bill Ferriter will show you just how important Twitter can be to professional educators. 


You will learn:


  • How to use Twitter to build a customized learning network filled with like-minds sharing the kinds of resources and ideas that you care about.
  • How to use the Twitter search feature and hashtags---short labels used for sorting messages---to target your participation in Twitter.
  • How to use third-party programs like Hootsuite to better manage the messages being posted in your Twitterstream.
  • How to use Twitter to reach out and build stronger relationships with colleagues, with session participants, with readers, with parents, with students and with peers.  





Session Slides


While Bill will spend the majority of today's webinar presenting from his Twitterstream and this wiki page, he has created a set of traditional PowerPoint slides that you might find useful.  They are embedded below.




Your Current Social Media Reality


In order to develop a better understanding of today's audience, please take a quick minute to choose the indicator in the short form below that best describes your current comfort levels with social media services.





Why Should I Tweet?


There are about a million answers to the question, "Why should I Tweet?" 


Perhaps most importantly for the kinds of continual learners who are writing and presenting for Solution Tree, Twitter can provide you with instant access to a constant stream of curated resources that are connected to your areas of professional interest.  Develop a network full of practitioners that you trust and you'll soon find that Twitter is the first place that you turn when you are trying to learn.  Why WOULDN'T you search through websites, articles and ideas being shared by peers before ever turning to generic Google searches?


Equally important for Solution Tree authors and presenters, however, is the fact that YOUR AUDIENCES are probably Tweeting----and they would LOVE to have the chance to see the kinds of sites that you are finding, articles that you are reading, and ideas that you are sharing.  Think about it:  If you could have instant and immediate access to the research reports and professional reads that resonate with Rick and Becky DuFour, Bob Eaker or Mike Mattos, you'd love it, wouldn't you?  


Of course you would.  You trust Rick, Becky, Bob and Mike.  You believe in what they have to say.  You know that they're on the cutting edges of their fields.  To be able to "learn together" by following along with their personal studies would keep you current and make you feel connected. 


The schools, districts, teachers and leaders that you are supporting feel the same way about YOU.  With very little real effort---Twitter messages are the length of one well written sentence and can be posted from just about any Internet connected device---you can provide those same schools, districts, teachers and leaders with an added-value:  A look inside your professional mind.  More importantly, with very little effort, you can answer quick questions and provide quick support.


Twitter helps you to be accessible and approachable without consuming an exorbitant amount of your time or giving away an exorbitant amount of your privacy.  Every message that you post carries value to those who have chosen to follow you---and every message that you post is another reminder of what you know and can do. 


That can't be a bad thing for anyone, y'all.


Want to learn more about Twitter as a tool for networking and learning?   Poke through these bits:


Testing Out Twitter -- A blog post from Kim Cofino that includes a huge collection of resources for those experimenting with Twitter for the first time.


Lathered Brilliance, Superman Underoos and Social Media Spaces -- In this post from my blog---which started with a few thoughts in the shower---I give a tangible example of how my own personal learning network made my life easier by pointing me immediately to thoughts and resources that I needed.  It's connected to the idea that environments that build walls stifle innovation.  PLNs are the ultimate wall-busters.


Twitter as a Tool for Professional Development -- I've said it time and time again: Twitter is regularly the best forum for professional learning that I engage in each year.  This blog post attempts to explain why.





Twitter Basics


While session presenter Bill Ferriter will introduce participants to the basics of Twitter---posting messages, finding peers to follow, replying publicly and privately to other Twitter users---during the course of our webinar, these videos can serve as refreshers once our time together has ended.


Introducing the Twitter Homepage




Sharing Resources in Twitter




Finding Peers to Learn With in Twitter





Who Should I Follow?


It is ALMOST impossible for any one person to suggest a collection of people for others to follow in Twitter for one simple reason:  We all have our own personal and professional interests, so the kinds of people sharing content that I care about might be completely different from the kinds of people sharing content that you will care about. 


If I had to create a "top ten suggested follows" list, though, it would include:


Three organizations:


@edutopia -- the Edutopia folks are constantly sharing great resources that make me think. 

@educationweek -- with direct links to much of their best online content, the Education Week Twitterstream always catches my eye.

@ascd -- much like the Education Week stream, the ASCD Twitter feed makes accessing ASCD content quick and easy. 



Three Intellectual Heavyweights:


@dianeravitch -- Diane is brilliant.  More importantly, Diane is constantly pushing back against poor educational policies.

@alfiekohn -- Another guy who is constantly on the cutting edge, what I like the best about Alfie is that he's constantly Tweeting. 

@willrich45 -- Solution Tree's Will Richardson is a thinker who almost always makes me think! 



Four Practitioners:


@mrwejr -- A Canadian elementary school principal who writes eloquently about the damage that honors assemblies do to children. 

@russgoerend -- A middle school teacher in Iowa who thinks deeply about PLCs, instruction and assessment. 

@dogtrax -- Another middle school teacher who is constantly dancing at the intersection of literacy and technology. 

@web20classroom -- An instructional resource teacher an incredibly prolific Tweeter who shared TONS of interesting reads and resources. 


Of course, following other Solution Tree Authors and Associates---who you can find in this list managed by Solution Tree---would also make a ton of sense, too!



Understanding Twitter Search


Easily the most important trick to master for practitioners interested in maximizing the time that they spend in Twitter is learning to use hashtags---short identifiers that Twitter users add to the end of their messages to make them easy to sort and search by topic.  In this short tutorial, viewers learn how to take advantage of Twitter's search features to monitor and join conversations that are connected to their personal and professional interests.




Using hashtags to make your work in Twitter more efficient is a simple and direct process:  When you want to add a resource to a specific conversation because you think it will be useful to a specific group of people, simply add the common hashtag to the end of your message and then make your post.  When you want to follow a specific conversation in Twitter because it is of personal or professional interest to you, simply type the common hashtag into Twitter's search window.


While there are literally dozens of hashtags being used by educators to sort messages for one another---the Cybrary Man maintains a collection of some of the most popular hashtags for educators here----the following conversations are good starting points for Solution Tree authors and associates: 


#atplc -- People interested in sharing resources connected to all things PLC. 

#edleaders and #edadmin -- People interested in educational leadership and administration.  Lots of principals and superintendents follow these strands.

#cpchat -- The hashtag used by the Connected Principals to share content.  Some of the most progressive school leaders on Twitter can be found here.

#edreform and #edpolicy -- Ongoing conversations about the kinds of educational policies that are having a direct impact on our classrooms.

#edtech -- Resources and ideas connected to the integration of technology into schools. 

#sbar -- While it's still in its infancy, this conversation about standards based assessment and reporting has drawn some bright minds and great thoughts. 

#provdev -- People interested in sharing resources and ideas about professional development. 


Perhaps the best known educational hashtag, though, is #edchat , a general education hashtag that is almost always active and full of diverse thoughts and ideas.  The best part of the #edchat hashtag is a synchronous conversation that takes place every Thursday night at 7 PM EST and tackles a topic of interest to all Edutweets!


And if you're interested in networking with or reaching out to other Solution Tree authors and associates, try following---or posting to----#treepd .  Just remember that everything you post with a hashtag is a public message.  That means ANYONE can see what you're writing!  While #treepd will be a quick way for us to connect to and support each other, never forget that our audiences are always watching.



Additional Twitter Search Resources


The following bits from session presenter Bill Ferriter's blog may help you to learn more about taking advantage of Twitter hashtags.


Twitter Hashtags for Educators -- a general introduction to the role that hashtags can play in efficient and effective learning on Twitter. 

Twitter for Singletons -- a list of hashtags being used by singleton teachers (foreign language teachers, PE teachers, band teachers) to network with one another. 



Third Party Twitter Applications


The vast majority of Twitter users who are serious about the service quickly begin using third-party applications to manage and monitor their Twitterstreams.  Third-party applications generally offer a ton of valuable features that you can't find in Twitter.  Two of the most popular third-party Twitter applications are:




This is the service that I use to manage my Twitter account.  What I like about it is that it is web-based, which means I can get to it from any computer that has access to the Internet.  I also like that it allows me to create tabs that collect information for me by my own areas of personal and professional interest.  If I want to find teaching resources, I can navigate to those easily.  If I'm interested in Education Policy or Leadership content, I can find that, too.  My Twitter content is neatly organized in Twitter, which helps me to find what I want efficiently.  Hootsuite also allows me to schedule my Tweets, to track how many clicks each resource that I share receives, and to post to Linked In and Facebook from the same homepage. 




For the first few years, I was a Tweetdeck user.  It's a great service, too, which allows you to do many of the same things that you can do in Hootsuite---scheduling Tweets, posting to Facebook and Linked In from the same homepage, adding columns connected to individual interests.  One advantage of Tweetdeck over Hootsuite is that you can share messages that are longer than 140 characters.  One disadvantage is that it isn't web based---so if you don't have Tweetdeck installed on your computer, you can't get to your personalized Twitter page. 


To make Twitter really useful, consider downloading a Twitter App to your Smartphone or tablet computer.  Doing so makes it possible to read and post messages from anywhere at anytime----waiting for a plane at the airport, waiting for your kids to get out of dance lessons, or waiting for your next breakout session to start.  While there are literally dozens of Twitter Apps available for mobile devices, the best are those that have been developed by Twitter.  You can download them here:  http://twitter.com/#!/download 




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