“I am a Twitter addict!” There I’ve said it, I’ve gotten it out in the open and now I can begin to move on. I use Twitter on my computer, on my iPhone, I have feeds pumping into various web site that I am responsible for, but through all of my use of Twitter it wasn’t until I found the right tool that it really brought it all together and made it the real professional growth tool that it has become.
As I talk to people, particularly teachers, about my use of Twitter and try to explain it’s significance I will often give the common answer, that it is “Like your Facebook status updates, text messaging and a small blog post.” and that “it’s something I use to communicate with other people and professionals that share common interest as me. It’s my number one professional growth tool; and no I don’t post when I am going to get coffee.” But even after explaining all of that, the question still comes up as to who to I follow, how do I find people to follow and what do I post. To this extent it has come to finding right tool to accomplish that goal.
For me that tool has been TweetDeck. Now there may be other pieces of software out there that accomplish many of the same things, but I find what TweetDeck does excellent and it is these things that I think teachers need to be aware of to have Twitter truly have meaning for them:
- In order to use Twitter you have to be following people and to follow people you need to be able to find people. The search feature will allow you to find information on topics you are interested. If you are looking for information on Moodle or collaborative learning, simple type in the search term as you would in any search engine and you can start following all of the people that are talking about that topic, you can direct you learning around these topics.
- You can create groups to follow. After you have set up a search you can begin to follow individuals that are discussing things that you are interested in. You can click on their username and then decide to follow them. Once are following a lot of people you can group them by friends, around topics or simply follow all of them all in one large group. The groups will allow you to organize you learning.
- You need to contribute. Ask a question, send a response or make a statement. In order to get everything that you can out of Twitter you need to be contributing to the conversation, adding to the “Twitterverse”. The more you contribute meaningfully to topic you are interested in, the more people will begin to follow you, and the great conversation, the great sharing and learning can happen.
There are other things that you’ll want to look for when you become a serious addict, like myself. You’ll want to have an integrated address book so you don’t need to remember everyone’s username, you want a way to condense your “tweets” and urls to fit into the 140 character limit, but beyond all of these things you want a tool that is going to allow you to find the information you want, participate in the conversation and build your personal learning network so that you can really get all you can out of Twitter and really understand what it seems everyone is talking about. So far, TweetDeck does that for me, but explore what is out there.