Behind Facebook, Twitter is the world’s second largest social media network, passing the 500-million mark in June 2012. While many people might look toward Twitter as a way to talk about their breakfast or to better keep up with the Kardashians, educators worldwide have unleashed Twitter’s ability to facilitate professional development, collaboration and networking.
For those new to the free online service, Twitter is best thought of as a steady stream rife with different varieties of fish. With a record-setting 12,000 tweets per second sent during last year’s Superbowl (that’s a whole lot of fish), users employ hashtags to better sift through the crowded waters.
Similar to a bait that attracts only certain kinds of fish, hashtags like #edtech, #edchat, #cpchat and #ntchat are often added to education-related tweets allowing other users to easily search and share relevant content.
After spending some time fishing the stream for content, some users may be worthwhile enough to follow. Follow meaningful users, and their tweets will show up in your home feed, regardless of what hashtag they’re using. As users follow more people, their home feed will become richer with content, like a personalized stream of only the best-tasting, most delectable fish.
With school budgets tightening and resources thinning, Twitter continues to grow and prove itself an increasingly valuable tool for continuous professional development. In New Jersey, Principal Eric Sheninger calls Twitter a “human-generated search engine driven by education professionals,” while in Massachusetts, then-principal (now assistant superintendent) Patrick Larkin sought advice all the way from Iowa on an ambitious 1:1 iPad initiative he was planning to roll out.
There are plenty of stories and case studies just like these, all with the common theme of Twitter as an invaluable educational resource. Click any of the hyperlinked hashtags and additional resources above, and you’ll sure enough be fishing from the Twitter stream too.