What is twitter?

First of all, don’t think social networking, and don’t think Facebook. Twitter is on a more profesional level. A platform that lets you learn from your peers, communicate with others easily, connect with like minded people and gather great informmation on your subject of choice.

Teachers like you use it everyday to inform pupils – maybe subject relevant news stories. Revision notes. Homework assignment.

All messages (known as ‘tweets’) on twitter are a maximum of 140 characters. In that you can post links, messages, pictures and many other items. Its quick, free, simple to use and above all is a very powerful way to easily connect with other educators all over the world.

You ‘follow’ other twitter users which allows you to view their tweets. Follow people you know, find people with the same professional interest or teaching subject. Artists, business people, scientists, technologists – all are here freely giving information that can help you. You can also follow chats that everyone is having – and you can get involved in that discussion or simply watch it as it happens.

Others will choose to follow you, so they will see all of your comments as you make them.

Again, this is not Facebook – tweets have evolved to more than everyday experiences, and take the shape of shared links to interesting content on the web, conversations around hot topics (using hashtags), photos, videos, music, and,importantly, real-time accounts from people who are in the midst of a newsworthy event, crisis, or natural disaster.

Try it. You’ll love it..


What would I use it for?

Before writing this article, I sent out a tweet and asked for one liners from teachers on twitter.

The first tweet came back in a few minutes was this: ‘Twitter makes me a better teacher by allowing me to connect with experts the world over.’ (from @niedchat)

For me , that’s twitter for teachers in a nutshell.

So what would you use it for:

  • Follow other teachers, local and around the world – learn from what they do in and out of class, and look at the resources or web links they post
  • Found a good resource or  classroom challenge? Tweet it for others
  • Ask a question to those that follow you. You’ll get a response real fast
  • Follow others related to your subject – Physics teacher? Follow Brian Cox and CERN. There is something to follow for every subject area.
  • Join in discussion – local teachers here in NI meet every Wednesday for an hour (#niedchat) Great teacher chat – join in to these and others
  • Engage with pupils – post interesting articles related to your teaching, tasks, challenges etc.
  • Post revision notes, timetable changes, homework tasks or stimulate a pupil to puil discussion

How do you use it?

You can use twitter on a PC or Mac via your web browser or twitter applications. On your phone or iPad, grab a free app and get access to twitter anywhere.

Read your timeline for those people you follow. Or post a new comment yourself. Couldn’t be easier.

Signing up

Head on over to twitter.com and click sign up. Choose a twitter name ( ours is @iteach_uk , many NI teachers use their surname plus C2k numbers, or their department and school name – but the choice is entirely yours).

Choose a password and key in a few other items and that’s it.

You will now have a twitter name!

We recommend your post a small bio – this helps others connect with you.

Getting started

Build a little of your network first. Try following us – @iteach_uk , then check out who we follow and follow some of them. Then see who they follow and so on.

Search for your area of interest and follow some people that interest you.

Lots of times these people will follow you back and your twitter network starts building.

Then just start reading the comments others have made, get comfortable and post when ready.

Why not send us your first tweet to say hi – just type @iteach_uk your message here . Press send and we’ll get it instantly.

Quick guide To terms

Tweet – your message or comment – start it with another twitter username to send them a message or just send your comment to everyone.

Retweet – if you have read something interesting from a tweet, you retweet it to send it back out again to the people that follow you. You will see ‘RT’ on any tweet that has been retweeted.

DM – direct message. A way for you to send a private message to another user that only they can see. This can only happen if you both follow each other.

Hashtag – this is a #, followed by a word that enables you to follow a conversation thread. You can read every tweet that has that tag in it. Example – following #niedchat will let you follow the NI teachers discussion on twitter.

Things to follow

@iteach_uk , @niedchat , #tmbelfast , #niedchat , #edchat

A note on your tweets

You can protect and hide your tweets if you wish, which allows you to select who sees them. Many don’t do this, so just remember that twitter is a public forum where anyone can view your messages.