Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tips for Twitter Trainers...

Twitter is being embraced by more and more educators around the world. And why not? Its a great way to build your Personal Learning Network (PLN), resource sharing, and get any kind of help for your classroom that you might need.

Some teachers are taking it upon themselves to jump right in and learning, which is awesome! (If that's you and you are still trying to figure our this Twitter thing, check out this page for tons of resources.) While there are other teachers who attend workshops to learn more about what Twitter is all about and to set up accounts to get started.

This post isn't about those getting started. It's some advice for the Twitter Trainers of the world. Bringing more educators into the fold is wonderful. Like I said, we need to grow the network. But I have some advice for when you are doing some training:

1) Picture/Avatar- One of the barriers we face with Social Networking is that a lot of the time we never talk face-to-face. (While there are times you will meet at conferences or impromptu Tweetup's the vast majority of you may never meet in person.) Help break down some of those barriers and take a picture during your workshop. With digital cameras its super easy to take a quick picture and then post to a profile. I hear a lot of times people will not not follow those without a picture. Show us what you look like already!

2) Profile- Going right along with the image is the profile. The profile is a quick and easy way to introduce yourself to the Twitter world. Take some time and talk to new users about their profile. Educators want to see what grades/subjects they teach or how they are involved in education. Any other information you want to provide is nice to. When most users get new followers the first place they look is the profile Again, we want to help remove as many of those barriers as possible.

3) Follow Lists- One of the complaints I hear from new users is they have no idea who to follow. Help them out by providing a list of 10-20 users they should be following to get them started. Lists can be easily created right on your Twitter profile or by using a service like TweepML.

4) Show The Power- I love watching my the Tweets scroll by and seeing someone who is working with teachers who wants the network to say hi and where they are from. What a cool way to show how far reaching the network is. You can also set it up a day or 2 ahead of time and use a hashtag that people can respond to. The hashtag option is nice because then you can demonstrate how Twitter Search works.

So there it is. 4 simple things trainers should do when working with a group of educators on Twitter. These are my 4 things. When you are training or being trained what other tips or suggestions do you have when setting up and learning about Twitter?

Update- I just saw a cool idea about Shoutouts from @concretekax. He suggests instead of doing the "Say Hi, Tell everyone where you are from..." to instead pick a teacher from the audience and ask them a unit they teach or a subject and then ask your network for resources. That can really show how powerful the network is. I really like this idea. I don't think I would do this instead of the shoutout, however. I would do this in addition to the shoutout. I still believe the shoutout shows that Twitter is not just local and is on all the time but you can use this idea to really show a great way teachers can and should be using Twitter.

Image from Google CC Image Search. View The Original Here.


  1. These are great tips, Steve. I read @concretekax's post when you tweeted it, but for some reason could not comment on it at his blog, so I'm glad you addressed it here.

    I think the shout-out is a guarantee of getting some responses. A request for resources or lesson ideas on a particular topic can fall flat, though. For example, a couple of days ago I was looking for examples of technology newsletters. I don't know if newsletters aren't in fashion anymore or if my PLN was busy with their own stuff, but I only got a response from ONE follower. Even though a couple of other folks retweeted my request. I would hate to have that happen in front of a group!

    As an alternative, if you know anything about your audience, you could tweet a resource request a day or so in advance of the workshop, then capture responses over a period of time with a screen shot or post to your blog or whatever. I think that would help show the power of Twitter - it's not always instant, but it's there!

  2. I'm a big fan of directing people *away* from Twitter.com. I've never been able to use Twitter.com because the I lose my mentions, and for newbies, that's where the thrill is.

    I push (yes, push) people toward HootSuite, so they can see columns and have their feeds auto-update. I push for HootSuite because they don't have to install anything.

    Thanks for the ideas, Steven.

  3. I thought of something productive to share:

    I do some "background tweeting" during meetings. For example: I had a teacher ask about virtual field trips, so -- without telling her -- I tweeted about it. Then I sent *the links to the responses* to her in an email. Not the links I got from the responses, but links to the actual tweets themselves. This way people see that it's not me that's magically coming up with these great links I'm sharing, it's my PLN.

    Hope that makes sense.

  4. Definitely "starring" this post! Great advice even in the comments!

  5. Hi Steve,

    I'm a Twitter addict and I think it's a great way to help develop my PLN. You have some good tips here. I'm not an educator but I'm involved with an Academic Outreach program that is by far the favorite part of my job.

    I have another tip that you might find helpful. Did you ever try searching for tweets in Topsy? Topsy.com is more comprehensive than Twitter search because you can search by links and it will tell you who retweeted them.

    I hope you find it helpful.

    See you in Twitterville.