I am by no means an expert or a guru when it comes to the uses, applicability or applications of twitter in the classroom. Actually, I am very much the opposite in comparison to many of the individuals I share and learn from on twitter. I have tried to actively use twitter to build my PLN since the end of March of 2010.
In addition to using twitter everyday, at school and at home, I discuss with those friends not on twitter ( I know there are people not on twitter ), what I have learned or discussed on twitter. When I advocate for the use of twitter, my primary points are being connected, building relationships and communicating, sharing ideas and learning.
I have also caught myself asking some of my colleagues, how come I have not seen them on twitter. With the most common answer being “I don’t have the time or I takes too much time”. At which I often gawk, reminding them that I am just as busy as they are.
While sitting at home over the weekend, I took some time to reflect and think about how I, an intermediate or beginner user of twitter would help a beginner user make the most of using twitter, while maintaining a balance between all the things in their life, such as family, friends, other school related duties etc.
There are many, many lists and blogs that will advise users of how to, what to and when to use twitter, but I have noticed that none of them mention one slight piece of information that is very important.
Yes, it does take some time and an investment, but like everything in education, learning and life. The investment that you put into it directly relates to what you will get out of it.
If I was asked, and although it is rare, but sometimes I am, this is the ideas, directions and suggestions that I would give an educator that is looking to use twitter may be not in their classroom, but to become connected. These are not stead fast rules, but a compilation of information and suggestions that I have read or that have been shared with me.
SHARE : ideas, links and information that you use and would promote people to use. This includes sharing what you do in the classroom with your students or your reflections.
CC/140 : you only have 140 characters so be clear and to the point. Try and say it without rambling (something I had to learn the hard way)
ASK : ask questions, ask for help (for resources, information. Everyone in your PLN is here for the same reason to learn and that is done together.
TWIT-ID : you are tweeting as a professional and as in the physical world appearance does hold importance. So choose a name and avatar that is appropriate.
RETWEET : if you like what someone has said or shared, retweet the comment, add an additional comment if you wish. Essentially what you are doing is giving someone credit for something, while agreeing with the comment.
TIMING: obviously this is important and there is nothing worse than saying something or asking something and not getting a response. To reach the most people roughly 11:00-12:00 EST time is the best time. The east coast is preparing for lunch, the west coast is getting to work and Europe is home for the evening.
Now for the BIG QUESTION:
HOW OFTEN: like I previously stated, what you put into it correlates to what you will get out of it, but as a suggestion I would say as you are getting started, try to send out at least 21 tweets/retweets/ideas per day for 21 days. After this it will become a habit and ease for you to login, chat and share for a short while and then return to other elements of your day.
Now before I leave, I know that for new users there is a large amount of information, here, but there is one question that is still causing some hesitance. The question is “What Do I Tweet About”, to make it easier and this post shorter. Just click on the question and you’ll be linked to a great post by George Couros (@gcouros) that covers, very well what you should tweet about and what to avoid.
This is by no means a complete list, so if you have any ideas or suggestions please feel free to add them and I will update the post as soon as possible.