Friday, September 3, 2010

Eight Reasons An Innovative Educator Uses Twitter

I love Twitter, but there are more smart folks than not who just don’t get it. In fact Marc Prensky asked yesterday why I use it and just today a friend who runs a successful Youth Sports organization asked me the same thing. They both could be using Twitter in meaningful ways, but just aren’t sure how. I shared with them my top reasons for using Twitter and figured since I was asked this question so much, I’d just write a post that I can link to in the future.

1) Instant and timely updates on my website2) Great way to find out what people are saying about me and my blog
  • I use www.Twitterfall.com and the search terms I use are my name and the name of my blog.
  • Teacher use: Empower your students, parents, colleagues to respond to the work you and your students are doing with Tweets that include the hashtag you’ve set up for your class. It’s a great way to connect more deeply with those who you teach and their families.
3) Instant, on demand professional development/ answers to anything I want to know.4) Read all about it!
  • Twitter lets me tell my followers when I've published a blog post.
  • Teacher use: Encourage your parents and students to follow you on Twitter. Your account updates them when there’s news of note.
5) It's all about the conversation
  • Twitter lets me have stimulating conversations with others who share my interests. This creative comic from Jeff Branzburg brings the concept to life: Twitter - It's All About the Conversation.
  • This can be spontaneously started as something comes up or it can be purposeful by using a hashtag to connect with others interested in the topic. A favorite in the education community is #edchat which you can read more about here.
  • Teacher use: Visit the site "What the Hashtag" and find interesting conversations for you and your students to engage in.
6) Instantly allows me to connect with experts and bring them into my classroom or training if I want.
  • I did this when I was looking for educational leaders who use social networks. I skyped them in to my class when I was speaking with educators who were interested in using social networks with their students.
  • Teacher use: Twitter will help you identify experts you can bring in to your classroom in every unit of study.
7) Extend meaning when listening to others speak at meetings and conferences
  • I was a problem child in school. I hated that it seemed the main purpose of school was to teach me to sit still and listen. I wanted to have stimulating conversations, make things, do things...not just listen to the sage on the stage. To combat this I usually just fell asleep as I have exciting and vivid dreams and while sleeping I didn't get in anyone's way. Fast forward to adulthood and I have the same sitting still issue. Solution? Twitter! Now when I'm at presentations or in meetings I can have those conversations and make meaning in ways my brain craves. Twitter allows me to instantly extend the conversation, answer questions, share information and ideas with the world, and many times that ends up as a blog post as well (like this one about Interactive Whiteboards) extending the thinking even further.
  • Teacher use: You likely have students like me you are torturing in your class by making them sit and listen while you teach. Invite them to the conversation with Twitter. Later you can go back and respond to their Tweets. For this to be effective you will need to develop a hash tag for your class or particular unit of study. Shared hashtags with other teachers around units of study can be powerful.
8) Connected to thousands of people willing to collaborate on demand on projects of mutual interest.So those are the top eight reasons that come to mind when someone says, “What’s the fascination with Twitter? I just don’t get it.” Hopefully, now you do and if you already did, I’d love to know why you use Twitter.
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