“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.

tweetdeckFor 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


William Stites

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wstites

William Stites

William Stites

Director of Technology at Montclair Kimberley Academy

Director of Technology for Montclair Kimberley Academy (http://www.mka.org), "Blogger in Chief" for edSocialMedia.com, consultant for Educational Collaborators, husband and father of two crazy boys. All that and still trying to find time to write and share as much as I can with you here and at http://www.williamstites.net.


  • Bill, Well done! I’m right there with you. I didn’t get it at first, but now twitter is go-to place for learning and growing. Using SEARCH and learning about #hashtags were the tipping point for me. Those really helped me expand my network.. in ways not possible with facebook and other tools.

  • Have you tried Nambu and Tweetie? I loved the threaded feature in Nambu but returned to TweetDeck b/c I liked the layout better. I tried Tweetie the other day too. I know that it is supposed to run better since it isn’t using adobe-air, but I find myself launching TweetDeck each time. Just wanted to know if you had tried those programs out and still have returned to TweetDeck like me.

  • Great description! You nailed the essence of what twitter brings in my opinion and that is a personal learning network. A person can get an answer to questions in a blink by using twitter. It’s the following / followers that matter; twitter is just the medium to connect; it’s who you connect with that matters!

  • Great Post Bill. It is about the filter and myself about the 50 or so people I trust in my PLN. Keep them coming. Enjoy the year and I am big on Tweetdeck as well both on Mac and iPhone.

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