For many people, Twitter conjures up the worst of the internet: disjointed, meaningless phrases, unrecognizable abbreviations, and endless drivel about where someone’s getting their double mocha today.
So, Why Tweet?!?!
For the inquisitive educator, there are some jewels herein that can lead to stimulating discussions, new resources, and an ongoing supportive network. You just have to know where to look.
Okay, okay, I’ll “tweet.” How does it work?
Part chat, part short-form blog tool, Twitter operates on the idea that you can “follow” anyone else. Once you’re following someone, you’ll see their tweets. Likewise, whoever follows you will see your tweets. The more people you follow, the more disjointed and noisy your feed. So choose wisely! Now, to get started…
Set up an account
1) Go to Twitter.com and click Get Started Now. Fill in the fields. Where they ask for your Full Name, I suggest using your real name if you want to use Twitter as a professional networking resource. This way, people can recognize you.
2) Once you’ve completed the registration process, click Create my account. It will ask you to enter some text to ensure you’re not a robot.
Find people to “follow”
3) Now that you’ve got your account, Twitter will present you with a whole bunch of interesting folks to follow. If you’re feeling adventurous, by all means, go through this wizard.
4) Or just keep it simple and start by following some of these recommended folks. Just visit these links and click “follow.” You can probably find other names you recognize by clicking on the names on our page, and following them. Don’t be afraid to explore!
I recommend that you only follow people who genuinely interest you. You can always un-follow someone, later. (They will never know.)
5) After you’ve started following some folks, take some time to listen to what they’re saying. Don’t be ashamed to ask if you’re confused, or an abbreviation doesn’t make sense. When you’re ready, jump in!
Participate in a chat
6) Note on the listing above that each chat is designated by a word preceded by a #. A hashtag is a unique keyword preceded by a # sign that allows you to focus your discussions on specific topics, like science education or project-based learning.
7) When you participate in a chat using a hashtag, you will be able to see some people whom you are not following. You can certainly choose to follow some of these new folks. This is, in fact, a great way to meet others who share your interests, and thus build up your personal learning network (PLN).
I suggest you use Tweetchat.com, or the app Tweetdeck to participate in chats.
Expanding Your Network
8) Your participation does not have to be limited to chats. As mentioned above, you can begin to grow your network by following people and finding additional hashtags of interest to follow.
You will see a number of abbreviations used on Twitter. Here are a few of the most common ones:
@username is how you respond to someone else directly.
#topic_name is how you designate a topic for a chat.
RT means Re-tweet, which is someone passing along a Tweet that was generated by someone else.
Twitter is a powerful tool, but it can be a little confusing. Please feel free to ask any questions here. Or, if you’re an experienced Twitter user, we’d love for you to weigh in on what’s working for you.