Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Power of Twitter: A Primer for Beginners

My Sketchnote tweet was retweeted by Future Design School
- I was so excited!!!
Today, as the rest of my team attended the first day of a big conference we have been preparing for, I sat in a courthouse for jury selection (shout out to my new jury buddy Nana Marcia - thanks for the yummy oatmeal bars!).  I was very disheartened.  I wanted to be in the action.  I wanted the opportunity for rich learning.  Luckily, I had my phone, and on my phone - Twitter.  By simply following the conference hashtag I was able to participate.  I read and retweeted and learn - all remotely.

Educators seem to be in one of two camps - Twitter loathers or Twitter lovers.  I am, clearly, the later.  I often encourage teachers from Camp A to give it a try.  You see, in education, Twitter is not about what you ate for dinner, or benign commentary on one's day to day.  Follow the right people and it can be rich, dare I say the richest, PD.

If you are looking for educational inspiration, give Twitter a try.  Here are some of my tips for beginners:

1) Don't be an Egg Head.  For the love of Pete, put a picture in your profile.  It can be your Bitmoji avatar (see left) or an icon to represent you if you are not cool with your face being on-line but let people know who you are!

2) Be Selective.  Pick who you follow carefully.  Don't follow friends or someone you heard is good.  Go in and check out their tweets.  Do the last dozen make you reflect?  Do they inspire you?  Do they incite some exploration beyond Twitter?  If so then hit follow, if not, move on.  (Sidenote:  Twitter works on algorithms, being selective can really tailor your feed.  I listened to a podcast today wherein one of the speakers talked about the fact that he did not even get a single post on US election night about Trump's victory.)  If you find someone you thought would be good is not longer so, simply unfollow.

3) Creep. You don't need to engage and go all gangbusters right away.  Don't let those who tweet constantly intimidate you.  You don't need to be like that to engage on twitter and yield great results.  Set aside a few minutes a day (in line at the store, while on hall duty, anywhere but while driving really) to read some posts.  Hit like a few times.  (Note: these likes are saved and you can go back to them later which has proven helpful for me!)

4) Hashtags aren't hard.  A Hashtag is simply "a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.Following hashtags can make it really easy to find content you want and people to follow.  I get some of my best education reading from posts I found looking up a hashtag.  #EdChat is a great general education one.  I love #EdTech & #Makerspace.  Here is a great list of Education Hashtags.

5) Participate in a Twitter Chat.  Twitter chats usually take place over an hour and are led by a facilitator who poses a series of questions (Q1).  Those involved answer with (A1).  Here is a great list of Education chats.  Sometimes there are slow chats where questions are asked one at a time over days.  Think of them like a meeting with fellow educators who are passionate about something you are really into.  You know those hallway chats that make your day and fuel you up - Twitter chats can be like that.  (You might want to check out TweetDeck if you so a chat - makes it easier to follow hashtag)

So, get on it - and think about following me!  @VirtualGiff  😀

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