Twitter: What, Why, How!

Twitter is a superb tool for learning and professional development. It can also be really powerful in the classroom (and we will explore that soon!) For NOW the focus of this page is looking at a few Twitter basics; What, why, how along with some use cases and resources.

Twitter Basics:

Most people think that Twitter is for following celebrities, or for telling everyone what you had for breakfast, where you are or how quickly you finished a run/walk! But these things can be avoided and Twitter is so much more! Especially in education.

Twitter can actually create a SUPERB learning network of sharing and crowdsourcing. It can form an awesome Professional Learning Network for learning and often results in a resource rich “backchannel” of  sharing and curated content.

Twitterification! some definitions and tips:

  • Tweets: are short 140 character posts that can include text and links as well as references to twitter users and to twitter “hashtags”.
  • Twitter names: also called “handles” all start with “@” eg @name users will be notified if they are referenced in a tweet.
  • #Hashtags: draw all similarly tagged tweets from all users together. There are a number of hashtags for different topics like #ipaded or for online chats like #aussieed chat on Sunday nights at 8:30pm. Usually a hashtag will be given at events.
  • Retweets (RT): is when a tweet has been tweeted on by a user to their followers.
  • Favourites: favouriting tweets lets a user know you found it worthwhile and also helps curate content you found useful.
  • Direct Messages (DM): you are able to be send Direct Messages to users who follow you.
  • Lists: you can create your own lists of “types” of twitter users (like lists for AFL, iPads, Google etc etc!) You can then filter you tweets as you like. NOTE: you can also follow other users lists.
  • PLN (Personal Learning Network): This refers to networks both online and offline. Twitter forms the base for many PLN’s through sharing and communications.
  • Backchannel: this does not just mean Twitter but it refers to the rich resource that can run in the background with users summarising information and sharing further insights and resources.
  • Twitter is a personal thing! Choose people you are interested in!
  • It is not about the numbers! Don’t follow everyone who follows you. Personally if a person follows me but does not tweet about stuff I’m interested in then I give them a miss. Otherwise it’s just “noise” (They usually stop following you when you do not follow back!)
  • remember your digital citizenship! Build it positively with helpful content and interactions!

Getting Set Up: it is worth it!

To create an account you will need to choose a username (keep it short if possible) and you definitely should upload a profile pic and write a bio if you want to engage other users.
NOTE: you can set a private profile, BUT it is pretty pointless and you are better off to treat everything as public from the start.

Resources and Further Information: Collected via my twitter PLN!!

Twitter for Teachers: Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) – lists and hashtags to follow.
Twitter for Students: in the classroom!?
Other “Twitter Type” Services – other tools that can replicate a twitter environment eg.
Using Twitter to log into other accounts: pros, cons and what to be careful about.

Page History:
2 June 2014 initial page created
16 June 2014 Links added, post written to highlight page

Page written by Rolfe Kolbe @rolfek