Monday, January 23, 2012

Twitter, Tweeting, Twits: What's the Story?

If you're not a fan of Twitter, this post is for you.  
If you don't get it, you have to watch the TED Talk below.  

Or not, but odds are high that your friends or your students are already on Twitter.

In this 2009 TED TALK, Evan Williams, Twitter founder, speaks of the unexpected uses of Twitter.  It seems like ancient history now, but if you're already on Twitter and tired of mundane updates - you may want to consider the friends you follow...on Twitter.  

Consider the possibilities of real-time mass communication via Twitter, watch this TED Talk.  Maybe then you'll understand last year's historic revolution in Egypt.

Williams is not the most exciting speaker; however, when I watched this talk last year, it made me rethink how one could use Twitter for multiple audiences.  

If you want to follow a social media maven on Twitter, follow former WRA faculty member and graduate, Brendan Schneider @schneiderb.  His blog schneiderb.com offers priceless advice on using social media in independent schools.  He writes, "I use Twitter for three [reasons]: to share information, to connect, and to communicate." 

After "listening" to Brendan's wisdom for a few months on Twitter, we started using Twitter last spring for WRA's lacrosse program, sharing real-time information with players, parents, and alumni @WRALacrosse.  This year, I am sharing information with my English classes @KOBsENGWRA, for student life at WRA, a boarding school @clubsactivities, and as a head coach @CoachOBrienk.  Each has a specific audience that I wish to share, connect, and communicate with in an effective manner.  

On Twitter, like life, it's all about who you follow. For each account, I follow Twitter users that are relevant to each audience and retweet pertinent information. For example for my English classes, I follow @advicetowriters, @newyorker, @grammargirl, @quotes4writers, @oedonline, @poetryfound, @parisreview, @theatlantic - the list goes on.  I have embedded Twitter feeds on each of my blogs (that's another post).  Easily switching accounts on my cell phone, I only read Twitter a couple minutes a day, but I find much to share. (Now, it may seem like I am an ego maniac.  No, I have no aspirations to be a Twitter celeb like Ashton Kutcher.)

But I teach 10th and 11th grade English, serve as a class dean, and lead the boys lacrosse program. When considering the different hats that one wears at a boarding school, it's all about communication.  There's so much information out there...I like to channel information with a discerning eye, and tweet, "Hey, you may find this interesting - or inspiring."  Yes, some information tweeted is even essential.  

Like any technology, it can be abused; however, Twitter is not going away. Students are using it, and more are going to be using it.  My two cents: meet them where they are and teach students how to use Twitter responsibly and effectively.  

My message to students: tweet wisely as you "Share, Connect, Communicate." If your tweets would embarrass you, your parents, or your school, please think again.  Or at the very least, make them private.  Public tweeting means literally anyone in the world can see those tweets.  

Final thought: perhaps, begin by simply "listening" on Twitter
Follow your interests and people that inspire you - and learn more. 

Thanks, Brendan.

1 comment:

  1. I find it interesting the the founder of Twitter doesn't use the standard "twitter speak". He refers to tweets and "twitters" and doesn't use words like "hash-tags". I don't know whether this is because the video is old, or if the words like tweets and hash-tag came from the users themselves.