Many people mistakenly believe that Twitter is a forum where people who have a lot of time to waste share what they had for breakfast and other equally shallow bits of information. In reality, it is so much more than that.
Twitter is perhaps the best and easiest way for teachers to expand their personal learning networks. You can search Twitter for any educational topic imaginable and you will find results you can use. Many tweets also include hashtags (the pound sign, or #, followed by a word or phrase) to categorize them. There are hundreds of hashtags related to education. Some examples are #edchat (anything about education), #elementary, #secondary, #edtech, #gtchat (gifted and talented education), #ellchat, and #spedchat. There are also many other, more specific hashtags that are sure to meet your needs.
Twitter helps you connect with educators around the country and around the world. You would never have the chance to meet many of these people in other ways, but on Twitter, you can find them, talk with them, follow their tweets, and benefit from their expertise. You can also join in and participate in weekly or monthly scheduled chats. I like #caedchat, which focuses on topics relevant to education in the state of California.
Twitter is an online resource, available when and where you need it. If you have been toying with the idea of trying something new in your classroom, you can go on Twitter, search for that topic, and come away with five new ideas in the space of five minutes. Have a question? Post a message, include an appropriate hashtag, and get input and answers right away. It is a place to get inspired, make new connections, and get new ideas.
Getting started is free and takes only a few minutes. Visit Twitter.com and find the area that says “New to Twitter? Sign Up.” Enter your name and email address, create a password, and you are off and running. Don’t worry about tweeting right away. Just commit to spending a few minutes a day looking for people to follow and reading their tweets.
If you would like to know more, I have shared an Evernote notebook of resources for new Twitter users. You can also find me on Twitter, where I am @CoffeeNancy. Still not convinced? Watch this video to see what Twitter can do.