Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tweets - Not Just for the Birds!


I'm sure that everyone by now has heard of Twitter and some of you are using it to stay in touch with family and friends.  However, how many of you are using it for developing your own personal learning network or for communicating with your students?  I want to share with you some of the ways that I'm am using Twitter in education.

First, I built my own personal learning network.  Trying to keep up with what is new in educational technology is almost a full-time job in and of itself.  I knew of a couple folks that I wanted to "follow" because I knew that they shared a lot with their followers.  Then, I went onto a search site which helps you find people that are interested in the same things that you are so that you can "follow" them.  In turn, many of them will read your profile and follow you.  In this way, you start creating a professional learning network where you can share information, glean information, ask and answer questions from others.  It really works well.  I have learned much already from the folks that I follow.  Here is the link to the site where you can search for others with your similar interests and educational subject matter:  http://wefollow.com/  All you need to do is to click into the "enter a tag" box the subject or interest that you wish to find and when they come up click on someone that looks interesting.  I suggest always reading their profile to make sure that it is really an educator that can offer you good information.  I also think that you need to add yourself to the database in order to "follow" others.

I also use Twitter as a way to communicate with my students.  You can get your students to "follow" you and you them in order to answer questions, send out homework assignments or other information to all your students at once.  You can come up with all kinds of creative exercises for your students like scavenger hunts, having them translate your Tweet for a foreign language class, have them record observations from a field trip and the list goes on and on.  It is only limited by our collective imagination.  There are many applications for Twitter as well that let students take pictures of experiments or record field trips notes or pictures and send them to Twitter in order to retrieve them later and put into a report or presentation all using their own cell phone!  I like to use TwitPic for this.  It is an application that works with Twitter to let students send pictures to their account to use later.

You and your students can also use Twitter to research a subject for a project.  People often share tidbits of information and a url to an article about that Tweet.  This is searchable and you can find real time information!  You and your students can also follow newspapers, etc. to stay up with the latest world events!

If you have never used Twitter, here are some links to videos to help you get started! 

Twitter in Plain English
Twitter Search in Plain English

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