The Twitterverse @Ian2325

13 Mar

I collected these next two posts off blogs, referred via Twitter and they are particularly relevant as I have a number of colleagues about to delve into the world of Twitter.  Hopefully by dipping their toes in it they will gain confidence to broaden the sharing of their great ideas into a blog, as they hold a gamut of educational knowledge and know-how that we all would benefit from.

Why be an Administrative Tweeter?

Jeff Delp’s Blog

March 13, 2012

January 27, 2008.  That was the day, over four years ago, that I created my current Twitter account (@azjd).  It was an ugly beginning – tweeting about meaningless events/observations to an audience of none.  It wasn’t long before I was on hiatus from Twitter…convinced it offered little of value.

Now, several years (and thousands of tweets) later, my opinion has changed.  Twitter has become a professional development staple – a source of ideas, conversation, challenge, and inspiration.  Very few days go by that I am not scanning my Twitter stream, interacting with others, sharing links or making note of resources to read or send to others.  Yet, I still encounter many administrators (and educators) who are reluctant to dive into Twitter, seeing it as a potential time sink.  Here are several reasons why I think administrators should have a Twitter presence.

  • It has been said that teaching is a lonely profession.  I hope we are moving away from this idea, but the same could certainly be said of school administration.  As a new principal, I have had more than my share of challenges, and sometimes I feel like a man on an island.  While it does not replace face-to-face conversations with other administrators, Twitter is a valuable avenue for developing connections with administrators from around the world.  The varied perspectives, and opinions, is phenomenal and I often find that my Twitter conversations provide a “spark” for change in my approach.
  • Staying connected with what is happening in the classroom is an absolutely essential task of successful school leaders.  In order to successfully assume the role of “instructional leader,” administrators must be knowledgeable about current practice.  Twitter provides timely, and relevant, conversation related to classroom teaching trends.  I am constantly amazed by the level of creativity, innovation and collaboration demonstrated by educators on Twitter.  It is such a fantastic source of ideas that I am able to share with my staff.  Not to take away from books/publications (I read those too), but the profession is so dynamic, that we can’t always afford to wait for a book.
  • Not only should school administrators be up to speed on current classroom trends, they should work diligently to ensure that their staff members have access to this information and opportunities to explore new ideas and connect with others who are implementing.  In a time of budget restrictions, Twitter provides a viable professional development opportunity – one that should be modeled by school administrators.  My experience has been that educators are intrigued by Twitter, and related technology tools, but often need a bit of encouragement to get going.  As leaders on our campus, we have a responsibility to encourage exploration and innovation.  Twitter is a potential means to that end.
  • When others read my blog, or see my activity on Twitter, they frequently ask…”How do you have time?”  When I get this question, I do consider whether I spend too much time on Twitter, but I have come to a realization.  Twitter has become embedded in my professional development practice (something that I see as an administrative responsibility).  Because of numerous apps, for almost every imaginable device, Twitter is a ubiquitous tool.  I can access my Twitter stream from my office, my driveway, while waiting for a meeting, in a classroom, at a ballgame – well, you get the point.  I am not on Twitter all of the time (and I don’t want to be), but accessibility allows me to fit it in, when it is convenient.
  • Twitter can be customized to create individualized professional learning opportunities.  Twitter hashtags (#) allow users to select an intended audience, or filter information based upon specific interests.  Want an overview of the education world?  Check out #edchat.  Want to know what other school administrators are talking about?  Follow #cpchat.  Curious about how technology is being applied in education?  Check out #edtech.

A quick Google search will help you identify tools and resources for getting started on Twitter.  For those of you just beginning, I would recommend visiting Jerry Blumengarten’s (@cybraryman1Twitter Page.

If you are looking for a few school administrators to follow, I would recommend that you peruse the Connected Principals web site.  There is a vast array of experience, talent and interests represented on this blog.  It is a great place to begin building your professional learning network.

Twitter – The Very Basics

Posted on March 13, 2012 by T. Henriksen (via George Couros)

Our district has been engaging administrators in a Digital Discovery Series this year. We have had two very powerful sessions. Our last session was just last week, with George Couros speaking to us about Social Media.  You can find my blog post about that evening here.

After our session with George, there have been a number of administrators wondering where to start with Twitter.  As a result, I thought I would make a very basic blog post for those just getting started.

Interestingly enough, one of the quotes made by George that stood out for many was

“If you are not on Twitter and don’t know what # or @ mean then you are slowly becoming illiterate.”

So, let’s start with the basics:

When you send a message in Twitter (called a tweet), if you send it and do not add anything else to you message, only those people who follow you will see your message.  If you have two followers, only two people will see your message.

What does the “#” hashtag mean?

You use this anywhere in a tweet.  The # and the keyword(s) that follow the # sign does a couple of things:

1.  The hashtag sends your message to a particular group. This sends your message to a larger group of people (not only those who follow you). For instance, if you want to send a message so that people in our own school district would see, you would put our school district hashtag at the end of your message (tweet). The hashtag we use for our school district is #sd36learn.  If you send your message to this hashtag, anyone who views this stream will see your message (not only those people who follow you).

2. The hashtag can also be used to allow others to search for the keyword in your tweet.  For instance, if you were tweeting about a particular topic, but did not know if there was a particular group already formed on that topic, you may add a hashtag to your message. This will enable anyone to search for that topic. If they do, they will likely come across your tweet.

Important to note: If you click on a hashtagged word in any message, you will be taken to a list of other tweets with the same hashtag somwhere in the tweet.

According to Twitter-etiquette, you should try not to use more than three hashtags for each tweet.

Some hashtags you may consider using and/or following:

#sd36learn – Surrey School District

#bclearns – British Columbia Learns – those people who are interested in tweeting about education-related topics (not political) in BC tweet here.

#edchat – General education-related chatter.

#cpchat – Connected Principals Chat – This is a great chat for administrators to use. It is always filled with interesting and relevant education topics and discussions – with some great school principals to learn from and follow.

#edleaders and #edadmin – resources and ideas connected to educational leadership.

#edpolicy and #edreform – resources and ideas connected to educational reform.

If you want to search for a posts (tweets) on given topics, you can go to: http://search.twitter.com (even if you don’t have a twitter account)

If you are looking for all the hashtags that are useful to people in Education, you may want to check out Cybrary Man’s list of Educational Hashtags.

Here is a good video on the basics of Twitter Search and using hashtags.

Next up, what does the “@” tag mean?

You use the “@” when you want to send a message to someone, or reference someone in a message. For example, if someone wanted to reply to something that I said, they would preface their post with “@henriksent” (“henriksent” is my Twitter username). The “@” symbol could also be used later in the post to reference someone (ie: “I am going to the movies with @henriksent”).

Here are some video tutorials you may want to watch, as you get started with Twitter.

If you are wondering who to follow on Twitter, you may want to look at this list. This is a very large list, organized by particular area of education. For instance, if you would like to follow some administrators, go to the column that is titled Admin.  As you scroll down, you will see many administrators who are currently using Twitter. This is a google doc, so you can add your Twitter username while you are at it.  🙂

Here is a recent list of some of Canada’s Most Influencial Edu-Tweeters. You may want to check out this list and follow some of these people.

What does “RT” Mean?

You will often see “RT” in a tweet.  The “RT” is short for “ReTweet”. You would use “RT” if you wanted to pass on what someone else has already said.  A RT may look something like this tweet I RTed tonight:

RT @evernoteschools: Don’t miss our webinar tomorrow — 11 ways to use Evernote in your classroom http://ow.ly/9BNMK #edtech #sd36learn

You may wonder why people would RT something someone else has Tweeted.  There are a couple of reasons:

1.  You liked what that person tweeted and would like to respond to it in some way.

2. More importantly, you want the people who follow you to see that tweet, thus, spreading the information to a wider audience.

If you change a tweet that you RT, you may want to change the RT at the beginning of the message to MT (Modified Tweet).

Direct Messages (DM’s)

You may not want everyone to see what you have to say all of the time. You may want to send a direct message to someone so only that person reads what you have to say.  If you want to do this all you need to do is start your message with a d and a space, followed by the person’s username.

For instance, if you wanted to send me a DM, you would start your tweet with “d henriksent” followed by your message.

So, that’s the very basic guide to starting with Twitter.

You may want to look at using some other applications that will help you organize Twitter, as I find it quite over-whelming in when I just use the Twitter platform itself.

On my laptop, I prefer to use Tweetdeck – where I can set up columns with my favourite hashtags I like to follow. There is an app for this for your iPhone.  You can use the app for this on your iPad as well, but it will only show you one column at a time.  On my iPad, I prefer to use the Hootsuite app.  There are many apps out there, so I recommend you explore them and find one that works best for you.

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