One of these days I’m actually going to write that ‘How I Do It” page to describe the many digital channels I surf in search of material for this blog. Today, I’d like to talk about a very important one: Twitter.
Twitter is a free service that connects you to your friends and family. It runs on a variety of technologies including mobile devices. To use Twitter, you sign up, create a profile, and then “follow” people. It’s easier (and better) however to watch this brief but excellent Common Craft video, it explains Twitter very well:
Ok, but you’re thinking, don’t we all have BETTER things to do? Like, actually teach? :-) Do I need to know in the middle of my busy day that someone is having coffee or cutting their lawn? Uh, no. The power of Twitter is that YOU control how it’s used.
I’m one of a growing number of worldwide educators – the Twitterati – who are now connected and share every day about things we’re doing in our classrooms, cool tools we’ve discovered, current events, rants and raves, anything. Sounds trivial, but I assure you, it’s not. It helps me be a better teacher. Every day.I didn’t get it at first. Signed up months ago, tried it for a while, didn’t see the point. My 18 hour days usually doesn’t leave a lot of time for extra stuff. So, I quit for a while. Came back a few months later to try again, and now, I have a large and growing network and get cool tips and news EVERY DAY.
The trick to using Twitter effectively is following the right people. Who you choose to follow is up to you; simply find the people using search (or ask them for their Twitter ID). Using their profiles, you can then find other interesting people to follow. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can make connections and find out really useful, interesting things from these like-minded educators from around the world.
I’ve heard about projects I would have otherwise missed, cool tools that are often featured here, and have built a network of people who do what I do all over the country. I also follow many “Rock Stars” of our world, accomplished professionals who earn their living advising school districts and other organizations about technology in education. These connections have been incredibly valuable to me. In return, I try to repay the favor by Twittering things of value to others, as I did most of Tuesday, March 11th at the NJ Connected Broadband Summit (NJCBS). It’s funny, but, reading ‘tweets’ from live events really does give you a sense of being there. It’s live reporting, basically, and you are there!
People say Twitter is addictive, and it can be, I guess. I don’t consider myself addicted but do feel pangs of ‘disconnect’ when I’ve gone hours or days without participating. Like yesterday. After Twittering all day at the NJCBS, I didn’t update at all yesterday. Just had too much going on! Now, I am wondering what I missed. I can go back and read ‘past’ tweets but it’s arduous and I often don’t even try. I just scan the current page and see what’s interesting, and reply when I can. I also have my blog set to automatically tweet when I post something. That has helped my blog grow enormously in popluarity; I now see about 10 times the visitors I used to (something like 500 a day, currently).
The nice thing about Twitter is the connection it helps you make with the people you want. I don’t use it for recreation or social purposes (Recreation? I remember that…) I do use it every day to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the lives of the 350+ people I follow. I learn something new every day from these people, whether they are “rock stars” presenting keynotes or people like me, ordinary educators doing extraordinary things in their classrooms!
p.s. I almost forgot – my Twitter name is kjarrett!