Why History teachers should join Twitter, and how to go about it!

This is another post that’s been sitting in draft form for weeks. I started it after I demoed Twitter to my old PGCE tutor, and thought a post online where I could direct history teachers new to Twitter would be a useful thing to have…
When I started as a History teacher I was lucky enough to be introduced to the forum at the schoolhistory.co.uk website by Nick Dennis. From there I was able to talk with, and learn from some of the best history teacher from this country and beyond, and joining the forum is still one of the first tasks that I set for the PGCE students that I mentor.One of the reasons that I love Twitter so much though, is that it provides that same experience only on a much larger scale. I can follow, communicate with, and learn from some of the best practitioners in the world, not just of history but of all subjects and across age ranges.

If you’re a history teacher and you haven’t yet joined Twitter, I really would urge you do so. Go to Twitter.com and create an account. It’s free and you can use the site online, on a mobile device of via a range of applications. There are loads of posts and presentations out there with reasons to join, go and google them if you’re not willing to take my word for it!

The advantage of using applications (for me at least) is that I’m now following so many people that I either have to stay glued to the service 24-7, or I miss something that might be useful. So I create ‘lists’ of specific people to allow me to tailor the service to my needs an interests even more. You can do this directly on the Twitter site, but an app such as Tweetdeck allows you to view and manage those list more easily. I wouldn’t worry about this straight away, but once you hit a point where you’re struggling to keep up with everything, it’s probably one to come back to.

Here’s a few other ideas to get you started.

Tom Barrett’s ten tips for getting started – the one about having a bio is important. Without it, many people won’t follow you back. That said, I would beware of the many ‘This is how you use Twitter’ lists and posts that floating about. The great thing is that you can use it in a way that suits you – no two Twitter users use the service in the same way for the same thing.

Some history teachers worth following can be found on my list here. It may well need updating, but it’s as good a place as any to start.

Using ‘hashtags’ (the #sign followed by a unique identifier) is a way people use to group linked content together. A spin of from this is livechats which take place over the course of an hour on a specific subject, with everyone using the relevant hash tag to keep the discussion organised.
Three worth looking at are:

Say hello!

My final piece of advice would be to get involved. Lurk for a little while by all means, but the real benefit comes from engaging – Join in with one of the chats above, retweet a post you like or agree with, or start a conversation with the @ sign followed by a username. Start with me if you want – @davestacey 
Hope to see you on Twitter before too long!

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