With a name like Twitter, you’d think it would be easy

23 Apr

I have resisted joining Twitter. I like to resist things that are popular, so this seemed to make sense. I really shouldn’t resist things so much. After all, my husband and I, former high school friends, reconnected on Facebook and became engaged within 4 months. Good things can happen from social networking sites. Then Grey’s Anatomy, one of my favourite shows, forced me to think that there may be ways to use Twitter to help with work. No, I’m not performing surgeries and saving lives but I am trying to learn and grow as an educator so that I can help the teachers and students in my school. If Twitter can help me to do that, maybe it is worth a look.

I’ve spent much of this year as a librarian reading back issues of Learning and Leading With Technology, School Librarian and Multimedia & Internet in Schools (now called Internet@Schools). I began to realize that the reason that I read those magazines was to learn about new ideas. These magazines constantly talk about establishing a Personal Learning Network, so I decided that I was going to use Twitter to do that very thing. It was going to help me learn, grow and develop as an educator (a lofty goal!).

I actually held my breath when I signed up for a Twitter account. I always swore that it would be the end of the world when I became another one of the Tweeple out there. I’m a little bit gullible (even for things that I make up myself) so I was nervous. But, good news, the world didn’t end.

Using lists such as Best Education Tweeple (Barnes, n.d.), Building a PLN (Cybraryman, n.d.) and Twitter4Teachers Wiki allowed me to find other educators with similar interests to learn from. I focused on adding people who were librarians or technology educators since these are the topics that I am actively learning about in order to do my job better.

Once I started “reading” the Tweets I was so confused. Thankfully I found Mom, This is How Twitter Works (Hische, 2010)! I finally understood why people kept throwing the @ symbol around like it was going out of style. I also understood how the placement of the @(user name indicator) in the tweet controls who will see it and how it will be traced on mentions. Retweeting was easy to understand – and easy to do! That was how I first managed to break into some Twitter conversations. Hashtags stumped me for awhile longer. They work kind of like a file folder, grouping tweets about the same topic together. Cybraryman (n.d.) has a list of all of the educational hashtags out there so that it is easy to find and join conversations (www.cybraryman.com/chats.html).

(Can I quickly mention that I feel like a little blue bird has kicked my cyberbutt this week?!)

One thing that I found difficult was having followers. I thought that this might be because the only thing that I posted regularly were my blog posts and that is just shameless self-promotion. For a week I decided to tweet at least 5 things a day. I retweeted great ideas, tweeted about blogs that had helpful information and posted useful links. Did that help me gain followers? Actually, yes! It also was a wonderful week because for the first time I felt like I wasn’t just being a Twitter parasite. Now I was in a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with the tweeting blue bird.

Why Tweet: A Personal Journey Through the Twitterverse (Via, 2011) is a laugh-out-loud explanation of how Twitter can be a beneficial addition to further learning for teachers, though, initially many educators resist it.

After using Twitter for the past few months, I agreed with everything Via said. I felt that same resistance. I struggled to use Twitter effectively. But in the end I saw it’s value. As Via succinctly states, “Whereas tools such as Diigo, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Reader add depth to my personal learning network, Twitter adds breadth and allows me to participate in conversations that help me every single day.”

When I log on Twitter I think, “Wouldn’t it be great if I find something new or exciting for work?” and I’m rarely disappointed. I’ve found new blogs to follow, great project or lesson ideas, and some fabulous online tools to use.

Great things that I have found because of Twitter:

Some of the best resources that I have found to help educators learn about successfully using Twitter to expand their teaching practices are:

I will admit that I still don’t use Twitter as much as I probably should, but I think this will grow as I have more time to play on it and feel like I have more to contribute. After all of this, I am still a newbie on Twitter. I would like to create my own custom background and continue to use Twitter to learn about and share new ideas and resources. All that I know is, Twitter definitely isn’t a tool that I will be dropping when this course is done!

P.S. – Fake Tweet Builder would be a fun tool for teachers to use in class. Not as developed as FakeWall but still pretty cool!

References

Barnes, M. (n.d.). Best education tweeple. Retrieved on February 20, 2011 from http://socialmedia.editme.com/Best-Education-Tweeple

Cybraryman (n.d.). Building a PLN- My PLN stars. Retrieved on February 20, 2011 from http://cybraryman.com/plnstars.html

Cybraryman (n.d.). Educational chats on Twitter. Retrieved on March 3, 2011 from http://www.cybraryman.com/chats.html.

Hische, J. (2010). Mom, this is how Twitter works. Retrieved on February 22, 2011 from http://www.jhische.com/twitter/.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Via, S. (2011). Why tweet: A personal journey through the twitterverse. presented as part of Wicks, D., Via, S., & Rhode, J. (2011, January 27). Using Twitter for Teaching, Learning and Professional Development. Retrieved on March 10, 2011 from http://www.edupln.com/video/why-tweet-a-personal-journey.

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2 Responses to “With a name like Twitter, you’d think it would be easy”

  1. Elysha April 26, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    ohhh ok…so you’ve had Twitter for awhile now and never requested to follow me? I get it…

    • freshlymintedlibrarian April 27, 2011 at 9:53 am #

      Oh sister. Don’t be insulted. I have been using Twitter only to get new ideas for teaching and share new teaching links. I actually don’t follow anyone that I know personally. Isn’t Facebook enough?

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