Friday, April 26, 2013

Connecting Educators via Twitter

Throughout the past year Twitter has been mentioned a few different times on this blog.  For example, Jeanne and Kirsten have both described projects where Twitter provided their students an authentic audience.  Twitter can also be used as a tool for your own professional development by connecting you with like-minded educators.

I have actually been a Twitter user since July 2007, but contrary to popular assumptions I do not spend all day on Twitter.  Actually, I probably only average a few times each week and usually I am just quickly posting a resource for others.  For me Twitter is simply a tool for sharing resources and connecting with educators across the globe who share similar interests. I do this through Twitter chats and conference hashtags.

Twitter Chats - Twitter chats are when groups of individuals come together at a scheduled time to discuss a topic through Twitter.  Someone moderates the chat by posting questions with a specific hashtag and participants respond using the same hashtag.  For example, Sunday nights from 8-9pm California educators come together to discuss various topics using the hashtag #caedchat. The conversation that occurs looks like the following.
Moderator: Q1: What tools do you use for hooking students into books? #caedchat
Participant: A1: Google Lit Trips! Check it out #caedchat
Most Twitter chats have four to six questions and take place over the course of an hour.  To participate in a chat all you need to do have a Twitter account and follow the chat's hashtag during the scheduled time via a tool, such as the TweetDeck app for Chrome.  Often a link to the complete transcript of the conversation will be posted at the end of the chat.  There are Twitter chats for nearly every type of educational group you can imagine, such as #1stchat (chat for 1st grade teachers), #mathchat (chat for math teachers), #engchat (chat for English teachers), and #artsed (chat for arts in education).  A dynamic and complete list of most educational chats along with dates and times has been curated by two Pennsyvlania educators. Still confused?  This video does a pretty good job explaining Twitter chats by discussing California Ed Chat.  Check it out.

Conference Hashtags - The second way I use Twitter is through conference hashtags.  This works nearly the same way as a Twitter chat, but takes place over the course of a longer period of time - usually a few weeks before, during, and after the conference.  For example, at CUE this year everyone posted valuable resources they learned at the event with the hashtag #cue13.  This summer at ISTE people will do the same thing with the #iste13 hashtag.  If you are lucky enough to attend the event in person these hashtags are handy for finding the good sessions and connecting with people in person.  However, if you are attending the event virtually the hashtags are useful for finding helpful materials.

So contrary to popular belief Twitter is for more than posting images of what you ate for breakfast.  It is a great tool for connecting with other educators and developing your own collection of instructional tools and resources.  To get started simply complete these three steps
  1. Create a Twitter account and follow me
  2. Install the TweetDeck app for Chrome
  3. Select a Twitter chat from this list to check out.  Note: This Sunday's #caedchat is focused on game-based learning and might be a great one to start with.
Finally, next Thursday's after school workshop (5/2 3:15-5:15pm) will focus on using Twitter and Google+ to  develop your own professional learning network.  If any of this post sounds interesting to you simply create a Twitter account and join us.


Photo: Twitter Bird Sketch by shawncampbell on Flickr


  1. Twitter has had a huge impact on my teaching this year. I am constantly impressed with the high caliber of teachers on Twitter. I love engaging in conversation with them.

  2. Great read. I will share this with my fellow Ed-Tech friends. Thanks.

    TerriZ Consulting