September 26, 2012

Twitter for Teachers - All Things Tweeting

So here we are...you decided to "get a Twitter".  You have created your account and included some bio information.  Maybe you even followed a few people or searched around to see what others were saying, but you haven't dared to send out your first tweet to the world.  Let's do it together.  It's really a simple thing to send a tweet.  I mean...you can only send up to 140 characters at a time, how hard can it be.  Well, you can also include a hashtag (#) or tweet at (@) someone.  You can include links or pictures too...so I guess it can be pretty intimidating.  Let's review all of the different ways to share your thoughts (for the purpose of simplicity this post will cover tweeting from the Twitter website):

Basic Tweet:  Up to 140 characters of text...nothing more, nothing less

Picture Tweet:  When you click on the tweet button, you have the option to include an image with your text. At the bottom of the tweet box you will see a grayed out picture of an image.  Click this button to include a saved image from your computer.  If you are on the go using the Twitter app, you can even snap a picture to include in your tweet.

Retweet:  You see something you like on Twitter and you want to share it with your followers...hover over the tweet with you mouse and choose retweet from the menu that pops up on the bottom of the tweet.

Reply:  You can also hover your mouse over a tweet to reply to that tweet.  This will automatically include the name of the person who originally tweeted the tweet (confused yet?) and then you can include your own thought in reference to the original tweet.  Replies will appear under the original tweet in the original tweeter's timeline.

Using @:  Also called an "@ mention" is when you tweet in reference to another user.  For example, if someone wanted to tweet about me so that I could see it they would tweet "Thanks @mikeoberdick for the tip about SMARTboards".  I would then see this tweet in my timeline in the @ Connect section.  This is a good way to interact with users specifically.  Note:  These tweets are still visible by everyone.

Using #:  A hashtag (# or shift 3) is a way to group tweets.  It makes them searchable.  If I want to know what is going on in the world of the Yankees, I could search on Twitter for #yankees and I would be able to see all of the tweets with that hashtag association.  For educators there are lots of hashtags to follow and they are broken out by subject area.  Check out this great resource which will get you going as you look to use Twitter as a resource.

At this point you should be all set to send out your first tweet.  A great way to get started would be to ask a question using an @mention or a hashtag.  If I'm looking to get some tips on how to use Evernote I might tweet "Anyone have any tips on using #evernote for notetaking? #edtech".  This will hit two subject groups which will give me a better chance of getting a response.  You can also tweet to a user to ask them a question like "Hey @brandtschneider, any tips for first time Twitter users?".  Now get out there and tweet!
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