I started a Twitter account a while back. I added my brother and some other people/organizations that I wanted to follow, but other than that I did not see any benefit in posting what I am doing on a regular basis (although I was doing that on Facebook, but why somewhere else too?) Then I started reading blogs related to education and technology. I continued to see "Follow me on Twitter" widgets and gadgets. I started wondering....am I missing out on something?
Turns out I was. There are thousands of other educators, professors, administrators, and Technology Integration Specialists on Twitter. There are groups on twitter that are important to follow. In less then a month I went from following 3 Twitter accounts, to over 50 (so far). I went from being followed by my brother to over 50 (so far)
What has Twitter provided me? Resources, information, ideas, concepts, thoughts, knowledge, and colleagues who share all of that with me. While at the same time I am able to provide resources, thoughts, ideas, concepts and knowledge to colleagues as well. Of course receiving the Iphone as a Christmas gift from my wife also helped me to access and use a Twitter account more thoroughly. I find myself checking Twitter at least 5-10 times a day and went from sending maybe a Tweet a week to at least 3-5 a day. Sometimes I read stuff that is funny, sometimes I read stuff that will help me with my job.
What Groups do I follow? There are others, but these are the ones that I find most useful. You can find them using "hashtags" which basically means putting a "#" in front of the group. Everytime you include this, it puts it into a group making it easy to follow.
Who am I following? I don't really feel like listing them all, but you can see who I am following by visiting my Twitter Page
Another benefit of Twitter is the "new" feature of List. Its purpose is to allow you to follow someone or groups without actually following them. It is for those Twitter accounts that you only want to check up on occasionally. You can also follow other peoples list, therefore avoiding having to recreate list. It is another way of organizing your Twitter account that makes it easier to follow.
So how do you find people on Twitter? You visit other websites that have created list of people you might be interested in following. Below are some ones that I have used:
1.) 100 Educators to Follow on Twitter
2.) Twitter 4 Teachers Wiki
3.) Educators on Twitter - Google Doc Spreadsheet. You can add yourself by filling out the following form once you create your Twitter account.
4.) Connexions - Directory of Learning Professionals Online
5.) You can get some more ideas at Free Technology 4 Teachers: Seven Ways to find Teachers on Twitter, which is where I got started and got some of the list you see above.
So if you are new to Twitter and an educator, what tips are there out there for you? Here is a great List of Tips from the Don't Waste Your Time Blog by David Hopkins
I would also take a look at The Power of Educational Technology Blog, who created the Google Spreadsheet. Really helpful information, links, and resources.
If you create a Twitter Account and find yourself really enjoying it professionally, then I would look into creating an alternate account for personal use.