Twitter is a social media tool which allows anyone to communicate via a 140 character limit. Many people get turned away by the idea of communicating via such short messages. And I’m sure there are some people thinking “I don’t care to read about what someone just ate for lunch”. But for any non-twitter user who takes the time to read the rest of this review and for those people daring enough to set up an account, I promise you will be rewarded.
It’s actually the 140 character limit which makes Twitter such a useful tool. Most tweets (messages) are short descriptions which includes a link to a more detailed article or website. Twitter allows you to follow any person, organisation or topics. This means that while you go about your day, your twitter account receives lots of great material from people interested in the same topics as you. So when you take the time to check out your twitter account, you are usually just skim reading short messages looking for the links that interest you most. Why read a full newspaper looking for a few interesting articles, when you can have many relevant articles summarised and sent to you? Twitter is also a powerful marketing tool and once you have established your account with many followers, you can reach a large audience very quickly.
Relevance for teachers
- Receive relevant and up to date articles, websites and teaching resources
- Easily collaborate with other teachers worldwide
- Share ideas or ask for suggestions on lessons or units of work
- Ask any questions and get instant feedback
- Communicate messages to parents and students (e.g. Reminder mufti day this Friday)
- Post homework, assignments, study tips or reminders
- Use it as a collaborative creative writing tool where all students can be involved
- Motivate students by posting interesting facts related to a subject or lesson
- Set up a class Twitter account and communicate with other schools around the world
- Analyse the grammar on Twitter
- Be involved in professional development and the latest trends
- Twitter allows you to send and read other users updates (known as tweets)
- You can search for twitter users by their name or invite friends to join via email
- The “Who To Follow” feature suggests users you might want to follow based on your interests
- You can follow people and receive tweets, without having to contribute anything
- Most tweets contain links to full articles and websites
- Spread a message easily and quickly to a potential large audience
- Send Twitter messages from any computer or via your mobile phone (SMS)
- Create a profile page displaying information about yourself or your business
- You can tweet to everyone or send direct (private) messages to users
- You can “unfollow users” and block users
- Twitter can translate messages into other languages
- It offers “follow me” buttons, which you can place on your website or blog
Ease of Use
Twitter can seem difficult at the start because you need to find the right people to follow if you want to receive relevant, informative tweets. Don’t worry if you can’t think of any messages you want to write, just remember that the value of Twitter is following others and discovering new information.
But the first step is signing up for a free account. You don’t have to use your real name and you can also use the standard egg picture, if you don’t feel like uploading an image yourself. You can fill out your profile page with as much or as information as you choose to share. But remember that Twitter is a social networking tool, so it’s nice if others know a little bit about you.
Once you are logged in, I think the next most important step is to find Twitter users that you want to follow (subscribe to). You can search for people or groups that interest you or you can browse accounts based on the topics that you enter. When you find someone that looks interesting just hit the follow button, remember you can always “unfollow” people at any tie. A really helpful hint is to find a twitter user via your topic of interest, if they have a lot of people that follow them then this usually means they are sending useful tweets. Go through the list of people that they follow and also follow some of them yourself. Following 20+ people minimum is a pretty good start.
This article is by no means a detailed “how to” guide for Twitter. If you want a more comprehensive guide explaining how Twitter works and how to get started, I highly recommend Russell Stannard’s Twitter video tutorial.
The widget below shows the latest twitter feeds in a variety of categories. Click the grey boxes to change the category.
Twitter is a 100% free social networking tool and it only takes a minute to create your account.
Twitter is a very useful tool for communicating with others. You only get 140 characters in each Twitter message, but its Twitters simplicity that makes it a lean, mean micro-blogging machine. You are not suppose to read every Twitter message sent to your account, but whenever you get time just browse some of the messages for interesting links leading to more detailed information. Twitter has made it possible for teachers to keep up with the latest trends in the world of education, or any other topics that you might care about.
I recommend every teacher to give Twitter a chance. After all it’s free to sign up and if you don’t find it useful, then you haven’t lost anything for trying.