Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tweeting from Your Phone to Gain a Collective Intelligence on Topics of Importance

Twitter (www.twitter.com) is a great tool for schools to use to share interesting and relevant information with the student body, staff, parents and family. No software to download and even with just one teacher cell phone per class, contributions can be done and modeled anywhere, anytime. Twitter has become such a popular tool because it asks one question, "What's happening?" Answers must be under 140 characters in length and can be sent via mobile texting, instant message, or the web. Like texting, the beauty of Twitter's is that its core technology is a device agnostic system that lets the masses participate. Because of this, with just a cell phone in hand, Twitter makes it easy for folks to stay connected...even if all they have at their finger tips is sms.

Ideas for Educators Using Twitter

1) If school staff are attending a conference or professional development activity they tweet reflections, favorite quotes, or reactions to what they're learning. I recently worked with a group of educators at a conference where we set up Twitter accounts which they used passively to follow the goings on of the conference using the conference tag for the first two days. By day three most school leaders were also contributing tweets that included instant reflections of what they learned that they planned to bring back to their schools. We could all see one another's Tweets as we used a special tag for our group. Because we used tags Tweets were captured and available for present and future reflecting. It also provided all leaders with access to see what their colleagues are thinking and doing, allowing them to further connect and collaborate. Here are some examples of their Tweets where they were reflecting on what they learned and would bring back to their school.
  • Introduce digital writing portfolios through student blogs
  • Learn and share Google secrets by going to http://tinyurl.com/nwyeey
  • Use twitter and google docs to promote a sense of community that can be extended outside of school
  • Teachers can tweet homework assignments
  • Have students create tutorials using Screencasting. (mathtrain.tv)
  • Use Google Docs to construct grade level planning conference agendas and collaboratively write lesson plans
2) School staff can tweet interesting announcements, updates, and activities at any time into the school account. This can be fed right into a school website providing the school community, parents, and more with an ongoing stream of updates about school happenings. See how two schools do this at www.martavalle.org and www.kurthahnschool.org. Here are examples of some of the school Tweets:
  • Tweets about school happenings or recommendations:
  • Principal Tweets celebrating student success:
    • Ashley D. is working hard on a poem that is sure to inspire a lot of people. Ask him about it.
    • Devon D contributed a really insightful comment towards a discussion of stereotyping in advertising during his explore week class.
    • Josie Ann M and Ms. Lustick's class are getting ready to read A Rasin in the Sun.
    • Just like she said she would, Jazmyn S earned her spot on the honor roll!
3) Use your class, library, or lab twitter account to share news and information with your students and teachers. For a great example of how this is done, follow Tracy Karas of Marta Valle High School in New York City at http://twitter.com/MartaVLibrary. Here are some sample Tweets from Ms. Karas's library:

Here's How to Get Started:
  • There are three steps to follow to get started. 1) set up a twitter account 2) enable texting updates from your phone 3) select your tag.
  • To use twitter from your phone go to www.twitter.com and set up an account.
    Note: Teachers may want to set up a personal account as well as an account for their class where they can Tweet from.
    Principals may want to set up a school account and give teachers access to send in Tweets.
  • You can Tweet from your phone by entering your number at http://twitter.com/devices and entering Twitter into your phone with this number: 40404. Don't worry that it is only 5 digits. Just send a text to it and it will show up in your Twitterfeed.
  • Next you'll need to to select a short tag (an approximately 6 letters or less searchable word or acronym) and then have your audience’s tweets include that tag. For context one of the more famous tags that made Twitter popular was IranElection. Schools can use an acronym. For example, Barack Obama High School might be BOHS. In New York City schools all have a district, borough, location (DBN) identifier i.e. 06M001. The DBN is a unique tag that could also be used.
  • Users can contribute by simply sms texting on their phone and ensuring the text includes the tag.
  • You can capture the tag-specific Tweets in any number of forms. The easiest is to do a simple Twitter search for the tag by typing it into the search box on the right side of the page.
  • For more information watch the "Twitter in Plain English" video tutorial at http://www.commoncraft.com/Twitter
  • You are now set up to start tweeting your way into the microblogging community.
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