Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Twitter: A beginner's guide

Is Twitter a time waster in 140 characters?

Thomas Sauer, the keynote speaker at the recent Connecticut Council of Language Teachers conference, encouraged all participants to make connections on Twitter.  During the conference, he used technological magic to show a screen of tweets about the conference happening in real time:
Is Twitter worth your time?  ABSOLUTELY.  Twitter is outstanding because it allows users to connect via smartphone or a computer and it requires little investment.   A few minutes here or there, and you can improve your teaching and help others to do the same.

Here is a Twitter primer

What are the benefits of Twitter?
It is anytime, anywhere professional development tailored to your personal needs.  

What is a tweet?
A tweet is a public micro-blog that is limited to 140 characters.  Most users share quick thoughts, their own content, or link to other content on the web.  Users can also “retweet” materials shared by others or contact people directly.  All sharing on Twitter is limited to 140 characters.  Here is one of my recent tweets: 

In this tweet, I shared a link to a blog post by Matt Miller and tied it to the topic “#edtech.”

What is a hashtag?
Hashtags (#) allow users to search tweets by topic.  When I tweet, I include the hashtags (usually 1-3) that are relevant to the post.  By clicking on “#edtech” in the above post or by searching that hashtag, all users will see the tweets tagged with this topic. 

What are those “@” symbols?
All users on Twitter have an address with an “@” before it.  My address is “@RobuPrice.”  If you wanted to send a public tweet to me, you would include “@RobuPrice” in your tweet. I would then receive a notification that you contacted me.  It is common etiquette on Twitter to acknowledge the creator of content.  In my sample tweet above, I gave a “shout out” to “@jmattmiller,” who wrote the piece.   

Should I use my real picture on my profile?

What are “chats?” 
There are weekly “chats” on a number of topics.  For example, there is an “#edtechchat” on Monday at 8 p.m.  A variety of users tweet and have an online conversations about a topic using the same hashtag.   

What does it mean to follow someone or to be followed?
When you “follow” someone, you see his/her content shared in your newsfeed.  When someone follows you, they see your tweets in the same fashion.

Recommended follows
·         @tmsaue1 – Thomas Sauer, the keynote from the CT COLT Fall Conference
·         @CT_COLT – The Connecticut Council of Language Teachers
·         @CoLeeSensei – Japanese teacher trying to incorporate tech into her teaching.  One of the #langchat (Thurs 8-9pm EST) moderators
·         @lindseybp – The account of the former CT COLT President, Barbara Lindsey
·         @msfrenchteach – A high school French teacher who shares her blog and insights about WL teaching and learning
·         @SenorG – Noah Geisel, the ACTFL 2013 Teacher of the Year (a Spanish teacher)
·         @trescolumnae – Justin Schwamm, Latin Teacher

Typical hashtags
·         #edchat – A discussion of all topics connected to education
·         #langchat – World language teachers post articles and discussions
·         #mfltwitterati – For those who love modern foreign languages

Twitter review in 140 characters
Create your own PLC and access it while standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for a friend to arrive at dinner.  #twitterrocks

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