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In its early stages, Twitter was viewed as merely a way for teens to communicate or catch up on celebrities and trends. As Twitter evolved, more educators joined, realizing the power of hashtags and how to harness its capability for professional growth. Today, Twitter has enabled teachers to form a community, share resources, and reach out to fellow educators worldwide.
Twitter, in short, is a social network that enables users to send/read messages or "tweets" via computer or mobile device. Defined as "a short burst of information," Twitter capitalizes on this concept by requiring users to limit messages to 140 characters. If you are a newbie to Twitter, watch these introductory videos to set up an account and learn Twitter lingo.
Build your PLN: Personal Learning Network A personalized learning network (PLN) is a collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information. Once you have set up an account on Twitter, use the following steps to begin your PLN.
Follow others. Thousands of educators around the globe are on Twitter, but people just have to know how to find them. (Here is a list of leading educators to get you started. Include @SmekensEd and @nadinegilkison to your PLN.) Once you have selected a few to follow, glance at whom they are following, and you will quickly grow your PLN.
Collaborate via hashtags. A hashtag (#) is a way for tracking topics on Twitter. When you attach the hashtag to a keyword, it allows you to search and follow tweets on that particular topic. In essence, hashtags make it easier to follow a Twitter conversation. Here's a list of top educational hashtags .
Explore Twitter Chats. A TweetChat occurs on Twitter with the use of tweets and predefined hashtags to link for virtual conversations. These more formal chats are arranged in advance and occur at a specific time with a leader to promote free flowing discussion. Look for current educational Twitter chats that may interest you. In the beginning it is OK to lurk, but once you get comfortable, try to join in on the conversation.
Twitter is a powerful mechanism for connecting with other educators. Still skeptical? Watch this clip to see how PLN is for all educational stakeholders.
~Smekens Big Ideas Newsletter, March
Additional sites for info:
Twitter Handbook for Teachers
100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education
Ways to display tweets for presentations: