If you are reading this post there is a good chance you came across it on Twitter. There’s also a good chance that this post may fall into the category of ‘teaching you to suck eggs’ or ‘preaching to the converted.’ If however you are a teacher and new to Twitter / blogging then this post may we’ll be worth the next 5 minutes of your life*.
Picture by @gapingvoid
What’s Twitter all about then?
Twitter is a social network used by millions to spread ideas and start debate. It allows people to interact with current news and create news. In the world of education it is used to share good practice / resources and start conversations about topical issues when generally enables people to become even more reflective in their own practice. Granted, there is no ‘trash’ filter, but for every 10 ‘beans on toast tonight then’ style post you are likely to come across some extremely intriguing posts that will lead you down a path of discovery.
Twitter basics for teachers:
The power of Twitter – an example.
Just over a year ago at the beginning of the summer holidays I began the first of my many summer projects, creating a baseline assessment for KS3 ICT / Computing groups. With the hope of speeding up this process I sent out a lone tweet into the twitter sphere…
This tweet was picked up my Mr Webber (a Computing teacher / developer based in Somerset) and led to the creation of an online KS3 baseline assessment tool. It started with just my school and Mr Webber’s school using it. Then last week I saw this tweet…
Highly unlikely to have happened without the connective powers of Twitter. Twitter is fantastic for connecting with like minded (and non-like-minded(always good to have a good debate)) souls because it makes it so easy to do so! Read more about the project at Mr Webber’s blog here.
Using Twitter to grow your Professional Learning Network (PLN):
Twitter is an excellent tool for growing your Personal Learning Network. The intuitive nature of Twitter makes it easy to search for like minded people, follow trends and stay up to date with the latest developments in education and pedagogy. It will not happen over night though. Patience and perseverance are key to building an effective PLN. Over time you will begin to build your tribe and see your influence spread and grow. The art of gift giving is what makes Twitter so special. I’ve lost track of the number of times I have used resources in my lessons direct from fellow teachers on Twitter who have felt compelled to share their outstanding practice. It’s the generosity of the network (the people) that makes Twitter an excellent platform for sharing and sourcing ideas – “The network is more powerful then the node.”
Tips for getting started:
1. Sign up and create a account. At this stage you may wish to think about branding. Who are likely to see your twitter account? Teachers, students, parents. How do you want to be perceived by these people? Some people come up with interesting learning related names such as ‘learningspy’ or ‘lessonhacker.’ Quite alot of people (myself included) have used their real ‘teacher name’ and added a suffix e.g. Mr O’Callaghan Edu or Mr Gill English. Be careful when choosing your profile picture – remember your audience and who may be looking at your profile.
2. Search for people / topics using the Twitter search tool.
3. Organise your twitter feeds using the ‘Lists’ function:
4. Little and often. Twitter could quite easily take over your life! My advice would be to dip into it, little and often. You will never see every tweet or keep up with every conversation.
5. Take part and share. Don’t be afraid to make a point, share a blog post or resource – you have just as much right to do so as anyone else on Twitter. The key here is quality over quantity.
Some people worth following to get your started (remember, have a look at their followers and follow more people):
Safe is risky. Be remarkable and don’t be afraid to share it!
*Sorry – life non-refundable.