How to introduce educators to Twitter more effectively.

I’ve been thinking about Bianca’s post about being an individual. It seems that there are now so many #hashtags used as insignia that what was once a conversation between people, seems to be increasingly set against factions.

This post is to suggest a 10 step, 4 week strategy to actively get into Twitter.

I also notice, that many of those who began using Twitter for networking three or four years ago  (pre-hash if you like)also  tend to use them mostly when they are at an event then abandon it immediately afterwards, returning to their more selective groups. Even during the event, many seem pre-occupied with these networks, busy conducting business as usual in between their presentations. There’s nothing wrong with this, apart from the fact that many in the audience will be relatively new to Twitter-networks and #hashtags are their only reference point, and really understand the difference in audience. It’s easy to hear the ‘love’ from people speaking, and then to assume that this new insignia will gain them entry into these people’s networks.

It doesn’t, it makes you a follower. There’s no assurance that you and the speaker have entered some meta-social contract. If we add time-zone separators the chances are you will miss them entirely.. There are no replays on Twitter, so what first appears a compelling and exciting new discovery, leads to a somewhat random, dis-organised hit and miss affair, especially if you have not learned to manage the flow.

Research clearly shows how essential it is for any technology to be consistently reliable in order to be adopted. There’s nothing assured about Twitter, or hashtag insignia. Being a bit nerdy, I’ve used a few widgets to analyse the patterns that many of the ‘gurus’ adopt using Twitter. Outside of their established networks, they rarely connect with new people, or stick with anyone else’s insignia for too long. The more established these networks are, the more exclusive they become in many cases.

This brings me back to the individual. I would think that the reason many teachers don’t persist with Twitter-networks is not because they think it’s rubbish, but because their early experiences are no where near as satisfying as they are claimed to be, and that they don’t have a strategy to ‘get into’ it, so here is my 10 step plan, that new users might find of use.

How to make Twitter useful to new adopters in the first month

1. Follow no more than 30 people: 10 from the system/sector you work in, 10 from another educational sector and 10 that interest you personally (golf, books, culture, film etc.)

2. Put them into a Twitter list straight away. I recommend TweetDeck to manage this.

3. Respond to about a third of these Tweets, by asking a question about something they have said.

4. If you get a reply, make a new list and call it ‘connected to me’.

5. Each week add no more than 10 new people in the same way, by selecting them critically from a #hashtag. There is always a new conference everyday, so this won’t be too hard.

6. Aim to have 90-100 people in your new network, and list them as I’ve indicated. Make sure that you make the effort to start managing your lists actively. Be more interested in what is said, what is offered that making a big splash yourself.

7. Set up and RSS Reader (Google Reader) to collect Tweets from your lists.

8. Set up a Feedly Account and connect that to your Google Reader Account

9. Set your browser’s homepage to your Feedly account.

10. Embrace ‘lurking’ on Twitter though the window of Feedly, taking a small amount of time each day to to look at the traffic, paying attention to links and resources rather than comments (which are often between encoded groups and make little sense when you start out).


Finally, if you are going to do this, make sure that you persist. Set time aside to do it, but don’t ‘sit’ on Twitter in your first month. It can be overwhelming to say the least.


2 thoughts on “How to introduce educators to Twitter more effectively.

  1. I really like this article, and agree with the fact that you must dedicate time to lurking each day if you want to “infiltrate” networks and build your PLN. I was lucky to have Bianca as an in when I first started out on Twitter, but even then it took me months to build solid connections.

    Something else I found extremely useful when I first joined Twitter too was to make sure you are reading the blogs of people you follow or other prominent education (or whichever industry you belong to) blogs in order to contribute to the dialogue relating to the key concepts which are bandied around in these networks quite often.

    Thanks for this post! Really valuable-much more so than many of the other ones on joining Twitter out there (alas I wish I had access to it when I joined!) @sthcrft and I are going to hijack it to give to first time Twitter users in the research we are starting!

  2. Pingback: A PLN: Friends…with Benefits | Chat with Rellypops

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