I’m back with part II of my flipped PD blog post where I will focus on using Twitter as an additional method of PD. Â I’ve already added a sarcastic comedy routine (which will of course return with next week’s post) in part I of the post, which if you missed you can check outÂ here, otherwise this post just won’t make much sense. Â Next week we’ll also be able to discuss this weekend’s NFL playoff games, the road to the Stanley Cup (that’s hockey) and if all goes well this weekend, the season finale of Homeland. Â I think one post of “schtick” is good for the week, otherwise my jokes will get really old, really quick. Â Plus, the nerd in me REALLY wants to watch the Apple Education event that took place this AM which is said to have enormous implications on education. Â If I don’t move away from that topic, I’ll never complete this post! Â With that said, I suggest checking it out for yourselfÂ here, I’d love to discuss further! Â Now I shall continue with the portion of my blog that may or may not contain educational value…..(yes folks, that was sarcasm….I hope).
The first step to using Twitter as a means of PD is to understand that in the beginning you will primarily be a consumer of content. Â While I’m certain many of you will want to dive in and begin creating and sharing content, it might be a good idea to start slow to find out what kind of knowledge is available. Â At this point I’m going to share information that I just happened to find from a Twitter colleague, @markbrumley. Â BTW, If you haven’t yet followed me, get to it! @VincentDay
What is a Tweet?
A tweet is a short message that can have up to 140 characters. It is sent from a personâ€™s Twitter account which can be accessed in numerous ways. Strangely, most people donâ€™t send tweets from the Twitter.com website; they use third party applications which offer more functionality.
Anatomy of a Tweet
A tweet can certainly only contain text such as, â€œI just ate pizza for lunch.â€ However, tweets relevant for professional development have three main parts.
- Short messageÂ such as, â€œI just found a great language arts lesson plan!â€
- Link to the main content. Since a tweet can only have 140 characters, most tweeters include a link to the main content. In the example above, a link would be provided to take you to the lesson plan. In addition, links are almost always shortened using a URL shortening service such as bit.ly. These services take a long website address and squash it down to as few characters as possible. When you only have 140 characters to work with, you donâ€™t want the majority to be a used for a link.
- Hashtags. See Hashtags below.
So, a typical tweet contains: short message, link, hashtag.
Hashtags provide a way to search millions of tweets and find content relevant to you. Hereâ€™s how it works. In the tweet message, the author types # plus a key search word. An example would be #edtech. Then, users around the world can search Twitter for â€œ#edtech.â€ All recent tweets with #edtech will be found.
Hashtags are the key to finding relevant content. Over the years, educators have started using common hashtags to help build a learning network. Itâ€™s important to know anyone can create a hashtag by typing # and then any word. So, in theory, I could type, â€œ#thisismyveryownhashtag.â€ However, remember, a hashtag is a search tool and unless someone is searching for #thisismyveryownhashtag, they wonâ€™t find my tweet.
Over the years, common educational hashtags have emerged to help teachers find relevant content. Example are #elemchat for elementary teachers and #mathchat for math teachers. For a huge list,Â check out this post.
Easiest Way to Find Content without Joining Twitter
Advanced Twitter users utilize third party applications such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. You can easily search specific hashtags within these programs. However, if you want to start out slow, go toÂ TweetChat.com. Then, in the URL address bar, type â€œroom/hashtag. For example, the full URL will look like this:Â http://tweetchat/room/elemchatÂ orhttp://tweetchat.com/room/edtech. Notice you do not include the #. Press ENTER and a steady stream of tweets will appear. Make sure you bookmark this page so you can return to it easily.
Finding Good Stuff
Now that TweetChat is working away, searching for your chosen hashtag, what do you do? Notice that most tweets have the three parts discussed above: short message, link, hashtag. Scan the page to find an interesting message. Then, click the link and see what you find. Sure, some of the content will be duds. Donâ€™t get discouragedâ€¦ you are sure to find some gems.
Triumphant close to this week’s post (for those that scanned through the Twitter stuff) . Â Â Â Â Some will question the value of this type of PD, but I must say that I truly believe in it and it has completely changed how I work. Â If you’re still reading this (you better be, because I’ll be testing you in the hallway!!), than I’ll mention an experiment that I’m in the midst of completing. Â Last week while reading Alan November’s blog, I came across an archived Webinar with Dr. Eric Mazur, who just happened to be presenting at today’s Advis event at Malvern prep. Â I decided to download the Webinar to listenÂ to after attending the live Advis event. Â Just to see what was differernt, what had I learned from the live event compared to what I learned from the Webinar. Â Well I’m half way through the Webinar and…………………..well you’re just going to have to tune in to next weeks Daytime post for my findings. Â How’s that for a cliff-hanger?
For those that want to know more about Twitter, SCH’s very own Hadley Ferguson wrote this article: http://www.iste.org/Libraries/Leading_and_Learning_Docs/June_July_2010_Join_the_Flock.sflb.ashx which was a cover article for ISTE’s Leading and Learning magazine. This article was included in all 13,000 information packets distributed at ISTE 2010 in Denver.