Twitter is great for a lot of things. For me, it’s an amazing professional resource. The educational community on Twitter is vast and knowledgeable. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that? Now, I’ll admit I’m a bit of a lurker on Twitter, but I get a lot of information from it. Twitter used to be really intimidating to me, but I organized it and found a way to manage it that’s really beneficial. After a conversation I had with some co-workers at a PD session yesterday, I thought it might be nice to write a blog post highlighting some of the things that help me make Twitter work for me.
One of the first things I do when I follow someone on Twitter is add them to the appropriate list. I currently have 14 lists, both personal and professional. Here’s a little preview of my lists page.
These are some of my newest lists. I recently started using Twitter as my source for breaking news (because apparently I’ve been living under a rock). My Bama list includes accounts I follow that are specifically related to Alabama and Birmingham. I have a list of people I know personally that I follow. Most of my lists are professional. I differentiate between the educators, tech coaches, and school librarians I follow. I also have a PLN (professional learning network) list for librarians and educators that I really look up to or who I think frequently tweet things of professional interest to me.
Hashtags are huge when it comes to using Twitter professionally. There are hashtags for all kinds of fields of work, but there are SO MANY that have to do with education. Some hashtags are simply used to share resources, stories, or have conversations on common topics. Some hashtags are also used for Twitter chats. Check out the calendar for education Twitter chats.
#TLChat is the hashtag for teacher librarians. There’s a twitter chat once a month, but the hashtag is used by tons of librarians around the world to share resources, blog posts, articles, and news.
This is where the true power using comes in. Lists and hashtags are great, but what keeps me from getting overwhelmed by Twitter and the many accounts I follow is that I have a place to organize everything. TweetDeck is a website that allows you to place create columns of different streams. You can add columns for hashtags, lists, specific users, and many other things.
The picture above shows a portion of my TweetDeck. This way I can see tweets from my PLN and School Librarian lists and lists from the #TLChat and #ISTELib hashtags. It’s librarian goodness. I have tons of streams on my TweetDeck, but the little left-hand sidebar helps me navigate the page without have to side-scroll too much.
Twitter chats are awesome, but they can be a little difficult to keep up with. They’re practically impossible to keep up with using the Twitter website and TweetDeck isn’t much better. The best way to stay on track with Twitter chats is to use TweetChat.
It shows you only content going on in the chat. TweetChat uses stream buffering to slow down the stream a little to keep it from being too overwhelming. You can turn that feature off, though, if it’s making you fall behind the chat. You can also pause the stream if you don’t want to miss something but need to step away or write a tweet. When you write tweets using TweetChat is automatically adds the hashtag you’re following at the end. It’s the best way to participate in chat.
Your use of Twitter doesn’t have to be professional for you to be a power user. That’s just the way I use Twitter the most. You can set it up as your main source of news, a way to connect with online friends, or a way to follow your favorite celebrities. Whichever way you use Twitter, I hope this helps you become a power user.