Last week a friend had her first experience with Twitter. It came late at night and after what I fear was an hour of yelling at the TV during Q&A! So of course her first Twitter came with the hashtag #qanda. The following night over dinner I couldn’t talk enough of how good Twitter has been for me.
Today I see her curiosity has got the better of her as she jumped onto Twitter once again. Although I am sure she felt the same as I did when I first started – what do I do now?
I had heard so many people talk about how wonderful Twitter is for educators and I had an account for about a year before I started using it. Now it is the first place I go to ask a question or share ideas.
So where to start!
I first started by reading Sue Waters and Kathleen McGeady’s wiki and blog posts about twitter. These are both great for Twitter newbies and this was where I really found out what Twitter was all about.
Here are my tips for First Time Twitterers:
Start Simple – I started by following some news outlets to get a feel for how Twitter works. This is also an easy way to get updates of the news throughout the day. (It was through Twitter I was able to get the news straight to my classroom that Australia had its first female Prime Minister!)
Write a bio - You will have the opportunity to write a short bio about yourself in the profile section. When I follow someone I always check the person’s bio to make sure they have a connection to education. And please add a photo or avatar. The little default bird makes people think you don’t know how to put a picture on! It also makes it easy to recognise your tweets.
Ask a question – you need to get yourself out there. This is a great way to get responses from like minded people, especially if you use a hashtag that is relevant to you. If you know people on Twitter, get them to send a tweet to introduce you.
Use a hashtag – A hashtag is the keyword that will allow people to search a specific subject. It will be a word with the # symbol in front of it (#hashtag). You can also search for hashtags, which will help you to find like minded people.
Get yourself a desktop application – I use Tweet Deck on my computer and Twitterific on my iPad. Simply this is a place to organise your tweets and it keeps all of your searches in the one spot. Also if Twitter is blocked at your school this usually allows you to access it.
Build up your following list – A great way to start is to follow people from their blogs. You will find as you start to add people they will also start to follow you, especially as you become more active. This is how you build your personal learning network. You can add searches to your Twitter application and from here you can easily find people who are tweeting the same things as you.
In Australia, for Victorian teachers, you can search the hashtag #Vicpln and #Ultranet to find teachers. You can also check out this site for a list of education hashtags across the world, Education Hashtags. For Victorian tweeters there is also a list of DEECD teachers who use twitter.
Look for Twitter Buttons – You will see many different buttons on blogs and webpages. This is an easy way to start follwing someone. Or if you have a blog put a button on yours. You will probably find many of your favourite sites have Twitter accounts.
Get Twitter Buttons
Safety First – always remember that your tweets are out there for all to see. And don’t make the mistake of thinking your handle doesn’t give your identity away. Your name will appear next to it! If you want something to remain between you and the person you are sending it to, write a direct message.
What are your experiences of using Twitter?
Leave a comment to add any tips you have.