September 27, 2012

Twitter for Teachers - Hashtags

In my opinion the power of Twitter lies in using hashtags.  You can use hashtags to search news items, follow trends, join a conversation, or even create a private space for your class conversations.  Without this ability, Twitter is just a bunch of people talking.

Now that you are tweeting and participating in the community of Twitter, it's time to take a look at how you can use these hashtags to your advantage.  Remember that when you post a tweet you can include hashtagged information (e.g. #techmessages) and your tweet instantly becomes searchable by the millions of people on Twitter (or simply your class).  A social studies teacher can follow  the presidential campaigns with their class by using #obama or #romney and read the timeline of tweets.  Another great way to search hashtags is to get involved in a conversation rather than just follow information.  As a foreign language teacher I could search #langchat to get ideas about what other teachers are doing in their classroom or better yet, I could tweet "Anyone have any ideas for a culture project using video #langchat" and then sit back and wait for the responses.  Even administrators can get in on the fun by searching #edadmin to find conversations about administrative topics.  The sky is the limit here.  For more examples of educational Twitter hashtags check out Alan November's list.

Another great way to use hashtags in your classroom is to develop your very own hashtag.  Anyone can do it and by creating your own hashtag, you are essentially starting your own conversation.  For your class you could start #shsphysics and share it with your class.  That night for homework have all of your students tweet a question about their homework and use the special hashtag.  Now in class the next day, you can bring up Twitter and search #shsphysics and see the questions.  Very powerful.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the last installment of the Twitter posts where I will share some great tips for moving beyond the basics of Twitter.  Included will be an overview of different apps to help you track all of this new information, an explanation of direct messages and lists, as well as how to tweet multimedia content and links.

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