Sunday, December 4, 2011

Take the 30-Day Twitter Challenge for Teachers!

Twitter is all over these days but I still believe only a small percentage of people really understand the potential value of tying a social networking application with professional learning. I’ve been trying for some time to better understand how to explain it to people who simply look at me as nuts when I say, “I’m tweeting”.
People still struggle with the point of it, the seemingly ridiculous nature of updating what you are doing (or learning) in 140 characters or less. Yes, they might sign-up because they are at a conference or workshop, but there seems to be a number (maybe just what I’ve seen) that never really embrace it, never really make it a part of their learning community/network.
While there are many reasons for this, keeping Twitter as a random, “stop in when I can” website keeps it foreign and somewhat odd for many. This makes it really difficult to experience the power of connecting, contributing, sharing, and always-on learning.
Therefore, I’m issuing a personal challenge to those of you exploring the potential of Twitter, those of you promoting Twitter, or those of you that have dismissed it in the past to do the following things for the next 30 days and then evaluate or re-evaluate the worthwhileness of Twitter:
First, if you do not have a Twitter account, you will need to go to www.twitter.com and set up a free account. It’s quick and easy but please remember the Twitter name and password you select. Then…
1.            Select and follow at least 50 people from the following lists of educators:  Twitter4Teachers  This many people may sound like a lot but you need to immerse yourself in a loud enough crowd. Be sure to be diverse in your selection including a global focus.

2.            Download and run TweetDeck on your computer as a means of having Twitter always on. 
This is the critical step. It allows you to engage synchronously and asynchronously.

3.            Understand and engage with the following Twitter Basics:


@ – when placed in front of a Twitter name, it allows the person to see a reply to them under Replies
RT: – you use this to re-tweet a tweet that is worthy of sending again to your followers; this is a great way to gain followers, too

# – hash tags to track specific conversations (try #ascd or #edchat in Twitter Search to see what I mean)


DM – Direct message for private messages when placed in front of a Twitter name

4.            Over the next 30 days, post at least 5 Tweets a day: something great (or a struggle) from your teaching/leading/learning that day, a question for the day, something that displays your personality and interests, and two replies to Tweets from others.

5.            Participate in at least 1 Twitter chat from a list of chats at Educational Chats on Twitter. This will also test your understanding of the use of # (hashtag) in Twitter searches.

6.            Optional: If you want to take Twitter mobile, here’s a link to the Best Free Mobile Twitter Apps for iPhone and Android.  And if you really get your Twitter on, you might be interested in exploring The Most Complete Twitter Acpplication List Available – 2011 Edition by Social Media Today.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Read William Ferriter’s excellent, short article for ASCD’s Educational Leadership: Why Teachers Should Try Twitter. Another great resource to build your understanding of Twitter and its capabilities to take you even further in your professional learning is 100 Tips, Apps, and Resources for Teachers on Twitter. And still, Cybraryman’s awesome collection of all things Twitter will certainly fill your appetite.
In the next 30 days, embrace Twitter as something more than just a random spot to visit on the web. Turn on the network and see what it can do for you by embracing this 30-Day Challenge! You’ll be happy you did.
Talk to you on Twitter,

@colonelb

Thanks to @bwasson and @ryanbretag for suggesting this challenge.