What has started as a simple answer to the question “what are you doing?” has now developed into one of the most popular online social networking platforms with 255 million Average Monthly Active Users (MAUs) as of March 31, 2014 . The potential of Twitter in education is uncontested and the research literature in this regard abounds . Twitter is also a powerful medium for teachers professional development and below are some of the ways you can use it to enhance your PD.
1- Real time search
Besides being a social networking site that connects people from all around the globe, Twitter is a powerful real-time search engine. I often find myself using it more than Google to look for reading materials for my research. The difference between Twitter search results and Google search results is the added layer of filtrating found in the earlier. Twitter search results contain links to web pages and articles that have been filtered and curated by human beings, Google draws on the algorithms in its filtering. . And while Google possesses a very sophisticated filtering algorithm, nothing beats the human-induced filtering process performed by Tweeters. People often Tweet things they have read and approved and hence the high likelihood of finding relevant materials in Twitter search than in Google search.
2- Twitter PLNs
Another powerful feature that Twitter provides to its users is the ability to create a personal/professional learning network. Having a PLN of people that share your affinity is a good way to crowdsource help. PLNs are hubs of firsthand knowledge and a source of unlimited support. While I was working on the literature review of my MAEd thesis I often had recourse to my Twitter PLN for help with references and journal articles.There is always somebody out there with an answer to your query, just be persistent enough to seek it.
These epiphenomena called hashtags have really revolutionized Lave and Wenger’s concept of communities of practice. Hashtags are great for creating a community around a topic. They are open and anybody can access and use them. They are also a good way for searching topic-specific content on Twitter. This list contains hundreds of education related hashtags you can use to search for content related to your content area.
Besides using hashtags as a search tool, you can also use them to participate in discussions with fellow educators from all around the globe. #Edchat is one example of a hashtag that is being used to hold weekly discussions. This list features some other important Twitter chats.
4- Twitter Tools
There are several third party tools to use to enhance your Twitter experience. Some of the tools I use in this regard include :
This is another great Twitter tool to organize your Twitter streamline and track hashtags. I personally do not find it much different from TweetDeck and you can do almost the same on both tools .
A list is a curated group of Twitter users and a great way to organize your interests. You can use Twitter lists to categorize and organize Tweets into different areas relevant to the information you are seeking. Check out this guide to learn how to create a Twitter List.