I have often heard that people do not want to be on Twitter because they believe it is just a lot of mean nonsense. But I have also heard people say that they get some of their best PD on Twitter. What gives?
In 2011, I joined DS106 to learn more about digital story-telling tools. Part of this course involved utilizing Twitter to interact with the instructors and other participants. I had no idea what I was doing. At some point, I learned about the Twitter hashtag #pypchat that allowed me to connect with other educators who taught the IB programme for students aged 3-12. Being able to connect with educators round the world with similar views of education and grappling with similar issues opened my eyes to the power of Twitter.
One morning I bemoaned the fact that #pypchats were held at 7am – a time convenient in the Asia-Pacific region but not so convenient in Toronto. Apparently, this meant that I had volunteered to lead a version of the chat here in the Americas. For the past 5 years I have co-moderated #pypchat every other week during the school year with @MrBeddows from New York City yet we have never met in person! We now contact each other whenever we have programme-related questions and have worked with teams of teachers around the world.
For those of you new to Twitter, or looking to up your game, you can find many hidden gems to impact your practice, challenge your thinking and celebrate your successes! Here’s how…
Firehose or Waterfall?
Years ago I remember hearing that following Twitter could be compared to drinking from a firehose because of the overwhelming number of Tweets and vast quantities of information rushing at you. However, I prefer to think of it more as a waterfall.
Just like there is a lot of information on Twitter, there is a lot of water!
When the Tweets are negative, it can be destructive – as a waterfall can be.
However it can also be beautiful and amazing!
You can decide how you would like to interact with all this information. Don’t feel compelled to take in everything that rushes by – you can:
- just watch
- dip your cup in and enjoy a little… or a lot
- take some time to redirect the information (using hashtags) to make the flow more manageable
If you are new to Twitter, don’t feel compelled to take in everything – participate in the way that works for you.
Find your people
Anyone can start a hashtag – the trick lies in getting others to use the same one. Hashtags organize Twitter and there seems to be one for every branch of education! Here is a list of hashtags curated by the International Society for Technology in Eduction for “40 Education Twitter Chats that Are Worth Your Time“:
When you type a hashtag into the Search box you will see all the related Tweets.
When you like what someone is saying, follow them. Click on their profile to see who they are following – you may want to follow these people too.
Are there bloggers you regularly read? Do they Tweet? Their username is likely on their blog or you can search for them by name in Twitter.
When many people use and search for the same hashtag at an organized time, that’s a Twitter Chat.
Typically, the chat moderators post questions or discussion points and anyone who has searched for the chat at that time can share their thoughts and respond to one another.
Some people like to use applications like TweetDeck because they allow you to see the chat as well as any mentions of your name or other notifications at the same time.
As a moderator, I like to use multiple devices… one for posting questions and keeping the chat going and another as my back-channel with co-moderators and to respond to mentions. (I will never understand how my Apple Watch is often the first to recognize a new Tweet…) However, I have also been known to use just my phone to participate in a chat on my way to school in the morning from the 512 St. Clair streetcar or from a restaurant before a Mirvish production. There is no one right way to chat – the choice is yours
First Season 7 Twitterchat – Saturday, October 20 4:00-5:00pm
I hope that you can join us this weekend for the first #Cohort21 Chat of Season 7. On Saturday, October 20 from 4:00-5:00
- Search for the hashtag #Cohort21
- Just lurk (here is nothing wrong with just listening) or participate by Tweeting with the hashtag
- Keep searching the hashtag and respond to others
I am looking forward to chatting with you!