Friday, May 15, 2009


A few weeks ago, I signed up with Twitter, not really knowing what it is, how to use it, or what it could do for me.

Since then, I have never used Twitter.

Today, I read two separate posts by educators discussing Twitter.

The king of educational blogs, Larry Ferlazzo, has good and bad things to say about Twitter.

His negative comments eloquently crystalize my own sentiments.

Even with all the positive feelings I’ve shared, it’s difficult for me to see Twitter becoming a major tool in education circles outside of those who have a special interest in educational technology. I know that no one I work with regularly uses it, and it’s difficult for me to imagine that — at least, in the foreseeable future — they would decide that it’s worth their time.

I think — technologically and professional development-wise — most of these teachers would get a “bigger bang for their buck” by reading lengthier pieces in blogs that would be more thoughtful and reflective, and that kind of activity is more within their experience of reading articles.

Larry makes an interesting comment about utilizing popular socialization sites because that's where the people are.

In addition, reflecting on my Twitter experience has also gotten me thinking about another organizing adage — the importance of “going to where the people are.” In terms of using technology to connect with more teachers, this thought has led me to start thinking more about the potential use of Facebook as another organizing tool. Though, as far as I can tell, no other teachers at my school use Twitter or even an RSS Reader for blogs, many — and not just the ones right out of college — have Facebook pages. I’d lay odds that this mirrors the situation at a lot of other schools, too.

I know of only one other teacher at our school who has a Twitter account; however, most of the teachers have a Facebook account.

Next, I read blog article by Chris on Betchablog that explains for newcomers how to approach Twitter. Here are some of Chris' tips:

Don’t even think about evaluating the worth of Twitter until you are “following” at least 40-50 people.
Don’t stop until you are following at least 40-50 people. Yes, this will generate traffic. Yes you will not be able to take it all in (well, maybe at 40 you still can, but not much beyond that) That’s ok… you don’t need to read every tweet. As you add people to your follow list, you gradually get to a point where the messages flow by you much faster than you can deal with. That’s ok too… it’s a smorgasbord, you don’t need to eat everything! But seriously, if you try to “manage” Twitter by only following a few people you will never see the worth of it. Trust me on this.

I currently only follow 8 people. I thought I was supposed to read every tweet. So, I'll trust Chris and try to follow 50 people and not try to read every tweet.

Get a Twitter client! If you need to go back to the Twitter homepage all the time to check what’s happening, you will quickly lose interest.

Okay, I added a Twitter client to my iGoogle homepage.

Finally, remember that Twitter is about “small pieces loosely joined”, which is really how the world works in real life. In real life, it is the tiny, seemingly insignificant social connections that so often direct our lives in some surprisingly major ways.

Still a sceptic? Trust me and just try it. Not by following three people and never looking at it again, but by REALLY trying it, addinglots of people to your network, and for at least 6 months. Then meet me back here in 6 months and tell me some of the amazing stories that happened to you because of Twitter.


Chris said...

I look forward to hearing some of your stories about twitter! :-)

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