Twitter: A Simple Guide

Making strengths productive is fundamentally an attitude expressed in behavior. It is fundamentally respect for the person—one’s own as well as others. It is a value system in action. But it is again learning through doing….What is being recorded and analyzed is no longer what happens to us but what we should try to make happen in the environment around us. —Peter Drucker (1966)1

Twitter is a way to learn from the information and networked world and share your talents, strengths and vision by learning through doing.  In a recent and cogent blogpost, Peter Gow (@pgow ) relays a conceptual framework for Twitter. He writes that Twitter is a network connector and an essential professional tool for understanding the wider landscape of independent schools and education in general. I could not agree more.  With #NAISAC14 (NAIS Annual Conference 2014) convening this week and hopes for a banner networked conference for all,  I hope this simple post contributes to the experience of a few intrepid explorers who want to get started with Twitter.

What is  Twitter?

Twitter is an information messaging system and networked professional development tool  that can be used 24/7 as long as you have connection to wifi or cellular data. As educators we can research, conduct short discussions,  introduce new questions, comment, and  share information (links, etc.) relevant to education and the topics you are interested in. You can also use Twitter to communicate with a wide variety of educators and, as you build followers, begin to establish a professional persona online and your Personal Learning Network (PLN).

Essentials for using Twitter

Create a Twitter account (if you don’t already have one) and fill out your profile. Include your real name in either your profile description or username, and a LINK to your blog, school website or LinkedIn profile! (Settings-Profile….Then add your  URL to the form space where it says Website URL). Make your profile public (If you already have a private Twitter account that you want to keep private, create a new account for education). Find and follow people, from other schools or with interests and passions in education you share (after a few days, if you don’t want to follow them anymore, stop following them); Post a message to your account and try to include a hashtag like #NAISAC14 (for the NAIS conference) or #TABSchat (a Twitter discussion for The Association of Boarding Schools and educators who care about boarding schools at 8:00pm EST Wednesdays) or #ISEDchat (a Twitter discussion for independent school educators at 9:00pm EST on Thursdays).  In the future, include this hashtag in all messages you want to be seen by that group of educators. Post at least one Tweet per day with links to interesting content you find on line, your own writing or media you think would be of interest and use to others. Do not forget to search for the hashtags mentioned (a more complete list as Peter mentioned is here) and follow educators who inspire you or that you want to know more about. You should check your Twitter account at least once a day for the rest of the year–see what happens.

A few more simple resources about Twitter you may enjoy

Mollett, A., Moran, D., & Dunleavy, P. (2011). Using twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities. Retrieved from Google Scholar (London School of Economics Twitter Guide for researchers. An older resource that I find particularly useful as a comprehensive guide to using Titter in academic contexts)

Nagy (2014) What Your Teen Is Really Doing All Day On Twitter And Instagram. A Dana Boyd interview on Teens and social media…including Twitter. (An erudite answer to your questions about why teens find academic uses of Twitter challenging.)

1 Why Drucker as an opening quote?  I find Drucker instructive for schools and educators as we shift our thinking and resources in the 21st century. Drucker’s message is simple at the core.  He realized early on that certain foundations of managerial capitalism where not going to work in the 20th (!) century and that leaders needed to better understand and support the knowledge workers in there midst. His almost cult like following with lean start ups and entrepreneurs today is telling of his legacy and usefulness to this day.  Twitter is one way of many to connect and reflect on your practice and leadership—a powerful way. Will using Twitter make you more effective? I think so.

Attribution: the tutorial part of this post was adapted from John Jones under CCSA 3.0