Getting Started with Twitter

Of the many social media tools available, Twitter is perhaps the most useful for the connected educator. It is easy to get started, easy to use, and requires little time to maintain. Twitter allows users to publish their thoughts and ideas online in “tweets” of 140 characters or less. It also gives users access to others’ “tweets” so that you can see what they are thinking and doing. Depending on your particular areas of interest, you can tailor the content you receive to match just what you want and nothing more. Practically every organization and everybody, from your students to Barack Obama, has an account, and there is always new media being posted—at a rate of over 400 million tweets per day; but don’t be daunted by the sheer size of it, because what you choose to capture is totally up to you. More than that, you can interact with the tweets you get by clicking on any of the linked content they provide. Finally, if you decide to start tweeting yourself, there’s more than just fame and fortune to be hoped for! Here are some of the useful things you can do with Twitter:
  1. “Follow” leaders in education and those in your academic field of study. Once you have set up your account, you can search for people to follow by name (e.g. PowerUpWHATWORKS) or by subject (e.g. Education Technology). Most of these accounts will post daily, usually multiple times per day, with news, resources, and just daily thoughts. This is a great way to stay informed without having to read every article and having to sign up for every mailing list imaginable. All tweets are 140 characters or less! You can find the latest resources and current best practices, and if you want to learn more, just follow the link that is posted in the tweet.
  2. Ask questions! One of the great things about twitter is that anyone can tweet anyone else, so long as their profile is public. If you see a tweet you want to comment on, go for it and hit “reply”. You might be surprised how often your “replies” get responded to!
  3. Use and follow hashtags. If you see the pound symbol (#) before a word or phrase—which is called a “hashtag”—click on it. This will link to all the other tweets that have included that word or phrase. For instance, if a tweet contains, “#UDL”, you can click on it to find all the recent tweets that have used that hashtag, and learn what’s out there on Universal Design for Learning.
  4. Create a local Twitter community. Even though Twitter spans the globe, that doesn’t mean that it’s not effective for communication at the local level. Set up an account for all the teachers in your school building or for all fourth grade teachers in your district, or encourage parents to join Twitter so that they can keep up with what’s happening at school. Any way you spin it, Twitter provides efficient and rapid means for sharing information and building ongoing communication. If your students are 13 years or older, you can even set up a twitter account for your classroom and use twitter to keep the discussion going after class has ended.
All in all, Twitter is one of the most efficient ways to keep up-to-date on just about anything and everything that you could want to know about. Get started today, find PowerUp on Twitter to keep up with all of our new and exciting content, and let us @cti_powerup know how you’re using Twitter to PowerUp your school! Acknowledgement: Special thanks to Michael McGarrah for helping to compile this post. 

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