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Ten things… #1 – Twitter

This is the first of ten posts, building on my list of ten things I learned from rebooting my teaching that I presented at Teachmeet Clevedon. You can actually find a much better explanation of why you should bother with Twitter in this 5 minute talk from David Gale from the Teachmeet! 

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Issac Newton once said ‘If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants’. Twitter is where you find some of the giants of education who are more than happy to give you a lift up by sharing their ideas, their reflections and some of the most useful links you’ll find anywhere.

The great thing about Twitter is because you choose who to follow, you get to build a unique network that works for you and your interests (it’s often referred to as a Personal Learning Network – or PLN). You can create an account for free at Twitter.com and start ‘following’ people that might interest you. I’m @davestacey and many of the other presenters from Teachmeet Clevedon have twitter accounts.

Some people like to ‘lurk’ for a little while, taking in what’s there, but the real value is in engaging with the conversations. A good way of finding these is through ‘hashtags’ – adding the #symbol along with a word or phrase allows you to see all the tweets connected to particular topic or event. Try it with #TMClevedon #ukedchat or #historyteacher for example. If you’re using a mac, you’ll find the # by holding down alt and pressing 3

You can choose to protect your tweets if you are worried about people following, but remember that does limit the conversation plus anyone following you can forward your tweet on (Retweet). As a general rule don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t say in public.

After a while, the temptation to try and stay on top of all the tweets from all the people you follow becomes an issue. It’s worth remember that you don’t have to read everything, and that twitter is supposed to be serving you, and not the other way around! One way of managing this is to use the ‘lists’ feature to arrange people you’re following into groups that you dip into a differing rates. This is the only way I can stay on top of the people I follow, and I use tweet deck, rather than the twitter website.

As I said in the talk, Twitter for me has probably been the most transformative thing I’ve joined. Give it a go, dip your toe in, and don’t forget to tweet me.

Dave Stacey