I am writing this article for my colleagues who ask me what Twitter is and for what purposes they can use it. Although I have been twittering for only two months, I have lots of things to say about it. I had signed up Twitter long before I literally started to use it. When I was at IATEFL conference in Cardiff, I realized that Twitter was a great way to meet and connect with like-minded people who share the same passions and area of expertise as me. -thanks to Gavin and Graham who constantly twittered during the conference.
I’d like to start with what Twitter is. It is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters, displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers).(Source: Wikipedia) Twitter was launched publicly in July 2006 and getting more and more popular by the day. I recommend you to watch this video about Twitter.
After you sign up for a Twitter account (click here for a Twitter tutorial to get started), you might feel a bit out of place and lonely because you are not following and being followed by anyone… You should get started by finding the right people. Here are some great twitterers that I would highly recommend you to follow. I would also suggest you to check out who these people are following. This way you will be able to connect with a lot more great people.
Once you start twittering and being followed by some people, you will feel better:-) I can assure you that after a short while you will realize how powerful twitter is and the benefits it can bring.
Well, you signed up… Following, and being followed by, some people. I bet you are still skeptical regarding Twitter’s actual utility and purpose. Here I would like to share some information that I think might be useful.
FIND THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO FOLLOW…
Well, there are a few good ways that I use to discover new people.
You can use search.twitter.com to search for keywords to find people in ELT field or you can search for people using Twellow (The Yellow Pages of Twitter). Twellow scans bios, names and locations while ignoring their tweets.
Another option is Mr Tweet which is a free personal assistant service for Twitter users. It is an automated system that recommends interesting people for you to follow, based on your own Twitter usage. All you have to do is follow @mrtweet. It will send you an occasional DM (direct message) with recommendations.
You can also use TweeterTags in order to add tags to your Twitter ID, based on your interests and topics. When you add your tags, you can click them to see the other people who use them.
Adding yourself to Twitter directories will also help you connect with the right people. WeFollow is one of the best Twitter directories. It’s very easy to add your Twitter account to the WeFollow directory. Click here and click on the button in the top right hand corner to add yourself.
MAKE SURE THAT YOU SPEAK TWITTER…
In order not to get lost in the Twitter universe, you’d better learn some Twitter language. Check out these links:
The Official Twitter Text Commands
Twitter Language and Other Power-User Tips
Twittonary (Twitter Dictionary)
10 Twitter Etiquette Rules
7 Essential Twitter Netiquettes
MAKE THE BEST USE OF TWITTER…
You can make the best use of twitter in two ways. First, Twitter can be like a virtual teachers’ room for you. Having an access to ideas, resources and useful links from ELT professionals within seconds is great!
Second, you can use Twitter in the classroom. I haven’t had chance to tweet with my students because I teach young learners and we were very busy with blogging throughout the year:-) Here are some good links for you to have an idea about what you can do with your students on Twitter:
Twitter For Educators
Twitter Tips: For Teachers & Educators
Twenty-five Interesting Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom
Well, you can find plenty of resources about twitter on the web. There are even some books about Twitter. However it is a very dynamic system so I personally would rather experience it online than learn about it from the books.
Before I end my article, I would like to share some more related links that I found useful:
TO TWEET OR NOT TO TWEET… WAS THIS THE QUESTION? )