Twitter – An Introduction For Teachers
Compiled by : Arthur Preston / Tim Keller
(find them on Twitter - @artpreston / @timkeller)
S O W H A T E X AC TL Y I S T H I S T W I T T E R T H I N G ?
Twitter serves as a means of communication between people through the exchange of short
messages of not more than 140 characters.
Each short message is known as a “tweet”. These are sent to those who “follow” you and
they are available through a search on Twitter.
When you “follow” someone you are choosing to receive their “tweets”.
WHY DO I NEED TO TWEET?
You don’t need to! However consider what you would lose out on if you choose not to…
Some years ago you would receive your news of educational trends, classroom ideas, links
to useful websites and so on by attending conferences, reading monthly journals and
sharing ideas in staff development workshops.
Now all this and more is available to you through a network of like-minded individuals with
whom you can share links, ideas and more. You are able to ask for help, post pictures, share
best practice, learn from other classroom practitioners, chat with other educators and invite
comment on ideas. All of this without the inconvenience of having to travel to expensive
conference and workshops. You also have the benefit of an international team of experts at
I’ M N O T T E C H -S A VV Y – W I L L I M A N AG E T O D O T H I S ?
Becoming a regular Twitter user is a bit of a journey. It can seem confusing at first and you
may be tempted to give up early on. It may seem that the people on Twitter have their own
secret language and way of writing things but you will catch on!
There is a bit of a learning curve and it takes time and effort to see the maximum effect…
However, a little bit of time on a regular basis will see you begin to derive increasing benefit
SO WHERE CAN I SIGN UP?
Open your web browser and head over to http://www.twitter.com
Complete your signup – a very simple process (just follow instructions!)
Take time to write a decent bio of yourself for your Twitter page – it will help others decide
whether to follow you or not. It also makes good sense to place a decent profile pic of
yourself. People will think twice about following someone with the default Twitter-bird icon.
NOW WHAT? WHAT MUST I TWEET ABOUT?
Before you start tweeting you need to decide why you are using Twitter.
For the purposes of this guide we are assuming that you are an education professional
wanting to use Twitter to develop a Professional Learning Network (PLN). In order to
develop an active and useful PLN you will need to be a regular contributor of useful links
and resources. You will also need to be replying to others in your network and interacting
with other Twitter users.
WHAT’S WITH THE @ AND # SIGNS I AM SEEING?
Twitter can appear to have its own language to someone using it for the first time.
Here are the basics :
1) Replying : Use the @sign followed by the Twitter name of the person to whom you
wish to reply
For example : @maggiev Thanks for the info re using podcasts in the classroom
2) Direct Messaging : There are times when you do not want a message to be seen by
everyone. To send a direct message start your tweet with D:
For example: D: timkeller Please let me know what time we can meet to plan our
3) ReTweeting : Should you wish to pass on something which another Twitter user has
posted, you can acknowledge them by “ReTweeting” their post using the letters RT
For example : RT @web20classroom: More Podcasting For Educators Resources:
4) Tagging : Hashtags (#) are used to tag tweets and make searching easier. There are
generally accepted Twitter tags but you can also make your own for your PLN. For a
good guide to Twitter hashtags, take a look at http://twitter.pbworks.com/Hashtags
For example: Great people to follow - @maggiev, @ShellTerrell, @mrspal
HELP YOURSELF GET MORE OUT OF TWITTER
As your network increases it becomes impossible to read every tweet that comes in your
Twitter stream. You need to be okay with that and realise that this is not email. You do not
need to read every tweet which comes to you.
The standard Twitter interface (http://www.twitter.com) has limitations and we strongly
suggest using a free third-party client which will give you a much richer experience.
Recommended clients include :
- Tweetdeck (www.tweetdeck.com)
- HootSuite (www.hootsuite.com)
- Seesmic Desktop (www.seesmic.com)
These clients are also able to track several social media sites at once (Facebook, LinkedIn,
FriendFeed etc) This is a very helpful feature if you want to track your personal Twitter feed
and that of your classroom or school at the same time.
W H E R E C A N I F I N D P E O P L E T O F OL L OW ?
You can start by following the authors of this guide! -
@artpreston (http://twitter.com/artpreston) and @timkeller
It makes sense to follow people who have the same interests as you and who will add value
to your learning network.
There are several ways to find people to follow :
Use the “Search” feature on the Twitter homepage
Twitter for Teachers Wiki - http://twitter4teachers.pbwiki.com
Educators on Twitter - http://bit.ly/psL1n
Mr Tweet – http://www.mrtweet.com
Listorious – http://www.listorious.com
ODDS AND ENDS
These tips will assist you in using Twitter to its full potential :
1) Use keywords in your profile. This will assist others in deciding whether to follow you
or not. For example you could state which subjects you teach, whether you teach
primary or high school, what interests you have etc.
2) Don’t become hung up on the number of followers you have. Your network will grow
over time. Build relationships with those in your network by sharing and helping
where you can. The numbers will take care of themselves. Your goal is to build a
quality PLN so don’t worry about the numbers!
3) Consider a Twitter account for your classroom or school. There are many online
resources to assist you in using Twitter in the classroom. Twitter is also a great
communication and marketing tool for your school.
4) Engage your PLN by asking questions and seeking opinions. It will also enhance your
Twitter reputation if you answer questions posted by your PLN. The same applies to
retweeting posts you deem valuable to your PLN.
5) Use a social bookmarking service such as Diigo (www.diigo.com) or Delicious
(www.delicious.com) to bookmark links shared on Twitter. This will allow you to
come back to them at a time convenient to you. It will also allow you to share these
resources with colleagues not in your PLN or using Twitter. The Lanner House
School’s Diigo group can be found here -
http://groups.diigo.com/group/lannerhouseteachers - feel free to apply to join the group.
6) Be aware that whatever you post is public – anyone can see it. Common sense rules should
apply – if you don’t want everyone to see your thoughts, don’t post them – especially if you
are using your real name or picture.
7) Remember that Twitter is in fact a social media tool. The social aspect can easily be
forgotten. Use Twitter to build relationships and communicate with others.
FURTHER RESOURCES :
1) 9 Reasons To Twiitter In Schools - http://www.techlearning.com/article/17340
2) Top 100 Tools For the Twittering Teacher -
3) Twitter As A Personal Learning Network – http://whatsnewintheworld.net/2010/01/twitter-
4) Twitter For Educators - http://itcboisestate.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/twitter-for-
5) 10 Things Teachers Should Know To Get Started With Twitter -
FOLLOW THESE TWEEPS TO GROW YOUR PLN :