Can a message of only 140 characters really affect change in the world? Twitter is doing just that one message at a time.
Last week I met with a small group of teachers and administrators to show them some of the merits of using Twitter as an education professional. I have already read many blogs about the virtue of educators using Twitter, so my message is nothing new. It is simply my perspective that I share with anyone who would like to catch up on the meeting of last week.
Here’s what I told the group:
1. Twitter has quality content. Forget the trivial stories about what some celebrity had for lunch. A dynamic group of dedicated professionals are using Twitter to share resources to improve our profession. Follow those people.
2. Twitter is easy to use. The many messages look like a lot of noise at first. You have to be patient and acquire a taste for the application to find order in the chaos. After that, it is simply a matter of making time to read some messages and pass your own along.
3. Twitter is connecting. Education is about people. We are people serving other people. Twitter adds that human interaction to the resources and information we find online. You can make acquaintances and friends of colleagues you meet in this medium.
4. Twitter is mobile. It is on you computer, but it is web-based so you can access it anywhere. It can also be on your phone. From your phone, you can connect broadly with your network or send direct messages to specific people. At a recent conference, I was able to track down and meet face-to-face several of my online connections using the direct message feature.
5. Twitter is information fast. As I began my Twitter presentation, I sent a message asking some of my followers to greet the group. Within minutes, I had several personal greetings that demonstrated the responsiveness of the system.
6. Twitter creates networks. The people I connect with become my Personal Learning Network. I check the resources they recommend. I ask for their feedback and counsel. I try to help them when I can. We are helping each other to learn and grow within the profession.
7. Twitter has depth. At first, it is about the messages constantly coming and going. But it gains in power as users learn to use and follow lists and hashtags (#) to organize and find information. I recommend using HootSuite or TweetDeck to better access these features.
8. Twitter is important conversations. Education is being subjected to the greatest criticism it has ever experienced. We are all looking for ways to improve. Join the conversation for how we can move our profession forward.
9. Twitter also has recreational uses. Although I am purporting this application to be a professional networking tool, you can use it for news, sports, hobbies, and recreation. Try following a vacation spot or two you would like to visit someday.
My final advice is to take it slowly but be persistent. The cacophony of messages can drive people away shortly after they start. Watch and learn. It takes time to acquire an understanding of the power of the tool. Do not feel you need to think and tweet profound thoughts (if you follow me, you know I don’t). It is all right to take without giving back at first. Later you will understand that . . .
10. Twitter is sharing. When you read a tweet you like, feel free to retweet it. When you find an article online, and you think, “Hey, this is valuable,” share the link with others. When you find an idea that has merit, sum it up in 140 characters and pass it on. It does not have to be an online resource. But if you are learning new things, share the wealth!
Here’s to meeting you online! Find me @DanielLFrazier.