Starting out tweeting
From my Twitter.
While I was attending the Talk about Teaching event at York St John University, I attended a workshop which focused on using Twitter for assessment within sessions. It was during this excellent session delivered by Maria Parks that I noticed a tweet from one of the people in the session. After I had retweeted this (personal promotion never hurt anyone :)) I thought that I would share some of the strategies I have used within the use of social media and how I use this to support my teaching and the student’s learning/engagement. So…first things first…starting off tweeting!
I’m not actually going to start of with a definition of what Twitter is or the meaning of hashtags or retweet. I am assuming that you have either taken the step and created a twitter account or have started to use one and have reached that point of -what do I do now? Well, before we get down to tweeting to support learning, we need to work on some important foundations.
It shouldn’t be a demanding routine. It just needs to be something you can commit to and maintain.
Set up a schedule! – In order to become what I would consider an effective tweeter, you need to decide on a schedule. This is what I consider to be the minimum number of tweets you are going to do in a day. This might be one tweet in the morning, or one in the afternoon or three throughout the day. It is important that you establish this within your routine, set a reminder to help you stick to it. One of the key things about Twitter is that people who follow you will expect something from you. Many people will start tweeting and then stop after a week or so because they have not established the routine. It shouldn’t be a demanding routine – it just needs to be something you can commit to and maintain.
What to tweet – My advice now would be, don’t get too involved with this when you start. You have decided when you will tweet so now you need to decide what those tweets will be. Initially this might be a link to the internet that will support the student’s learning/engagement, or a comment about a course you have been on, wishing the students luck with something, a reminder or really anything. Although not the best, a simple good morning is a start! What you tweet will develop as you use Twitter more, so start with something simple and develop.
You need a following! – Although many people state that having a huge following on twitter is not the most important aspect (I only have 282 followers), it is important that you do have some followers. If you do not then you will tweeting away and no-one will be seeing or interacting with the tweets. I am assuming that the majority of my followers are students on the programme. This is because the main purpose of my tweeting is to support them. When you created your Twitter account hopefully you made your username on easy for people to find you – mine is @iwilsonysj. Now you need to advertise. Basically think that where ever you put your email now add your Twitter username. Within Outlook, add it to your signature – adding it as a link will allow people to go straight to your user page to follow you. When delivering sessions, ensure that it is on the front slide of your presentation and the last.
Give them a reason to follow – I am very clear with the students that if they are following me on Twitter I will not be following them back. This is very reassuring for them as well as maintaining a suitable professional stance (Within Primary Education, we encourage the students to keep their accounts private as well). You do, however, need to start to give them a reason to follow. You need to say what you will be tweeting so they can decide whether they want to follow you or not. Remember that not everyone will have Twitter so anything that you are tweet should not be essential for sessions/programmes – if it is, then as well as tweeting it ensure that it is available elsewhere for anyone who does not have/or want Twitter.
These were the first steps of my tweeting. Your routine and purpose will develop, but you need to start off with something which you can maintain. Once you have the routine established then you can start to think about the next step.
If you have any questions or comments, then please add them in the comments box below or send me them to be via twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, google+ or email.
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Have fun, engage and I’ll catch you later