Most educators who learn to use Twitter effectively say they learn more from their personal learning network (PLN) on Twitter than any other forms of professional development or personal learning.
Unfortunately, educators and other professionals often dismiss Twitter or fail to see its value when they’re first introduced to this social networking service. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to reconsider using Twitter and we’re here to help!
The aim of this post is to provide all the information you need to learn how to use Twitter effectively as an educator or professional.
Click on a link below to go to the section you want to read:
- Introduction to Twitter
- Sign up for your account
- Before you start following other people
- Tips on who to follow
- Tips for engaging in conversations
- Twitter terminology 101
- Interacting with tweets
- Make your tweets stand out
- Public Vs protected Twitter accounts
- Getting more out of Twitter using Twitter Clients
- Getting Started with TweetDeck
- Using the Twitter app on your mobile device
- About Twitter moments
- How to post links
- Connecting using hashtags
- 10 tips for using hashtags
- Participating in Twitter chats
- Finding Twitter chats
- Create and use Twitter lists
- Scheduling tweets
- How to embed tweets
- Customizing your Twitter profile
- What to do if your Twitter account is hacked
- Keeping up with links shared on Twitter
- Using Twitter with students
- Over to you
Introduction To Twitter
Twitter is a social networking, news, and microblogging service that allows you to send out short messages called tweets.
Along with text and links, tweets can also contain media (up to 4 photos, a video, or a GIF).
Tweets used to be limited to 140 characters but this increased to 280 characters by 2018.
Twitter is a place that you can just lurk, by reading others’ tweets, or contribute, by sending out your own tweets. Obviously, the latter is what you work towards as the more you put in, the more you get out!
You can read tweets without having your own Twitter account (as long as the accounts you’re following are public — and the majority are). To contribute, you will need an account which we will explain below.
Twitter is made up of tweets. We created this diagram to help you understand tweets better.
You’re welcome to share it with others or display it on your blog.
One of the great things about Twitter is that it is accessible on your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone. You can use the native Twitter website or app, or there are many other popular third-party apps that aim to improve functionality and accessibility.
Tweetdeck was once an independent app that has now been acquired by Twitter. Many users enjoy using it to organize their feed.
Twitter is used by people in nearly every country around the world. 83% of 193 UN member countries have a Twitter presence. For teachers, this means you have access to thousands of educators with rich backgrounds and experiences that can contribute to your professional growth.
In this three minute video, Alec Couros explains how Twitter is used effectively in education.
Sign Up For Your Account
The sign-up process is easy. Just follow these steps:
- Go to http://twitter.com and click on the sign-up box, or go directly to https://twitter.com/signup.
- You will be required to enter information such as your name and email address as you’re guided through the sign-up process.
- Once you sign up for an account, you can select a unique username. Try to avoid making your username too long and make it something that identifies you, like your name, rather than a complex nickname. But don’t stress too much — your username can be changed anytime without affecting your Twitter account. You change your username by editing your profile information.
- When you initially sign up for Twitter, it takes you through a series of steps where you can select people to follow. DON’T follow anyone when you first create your account. Set up your profile information and post a few tweets before you follow anyone.
Before You Start Following Other People
- Complete your bio so people know who you are. You have 160 characters for your bio. Educators often share the age group or subject they teach, and particular interests.
- Add a profile photo. Real photos can be a better choice than a cartoon avatar or abstract image. It helps you to build your relationship with your PLN. Bios and photos can hold a lot of weight in virtual relationships.
- You’ll also be able to add a header photo. Popular header images for teachers include landscapes, a classroom photo, or a quote. Tip: You can make a personalized Twitter header image with Canva.
- Don’t start following people on Twitter until you’ve published some tweets! Most people won’t follow a person who has never been active so you may miss your chance to make a connection.
This one minute video shows how to change your Twitter header and profile photo.
This eight-minute video demonstrates how to post a tweet.
Tips On Who To Follow
Following someone on Twitter means:
- You are subscribing to their tweets and their updates will appear in your home timeline
- That person is able to send you a private direct message if you’re following each other
Following isn’t necessarily a reciprocal relationship, like Facebook friendships. Someone can follow you without you following them back and vice versa. You don’t need to wait for approval to follow someone either, as long as their account is public.
Our tips on getting started with following:
- Choose about 100 people to follow initially. You can always add more as you go and this ensures you don’t feel too overwhelmed when starting out.
- Find people to follow who have similar interests or who write blogs you enjoy. You might also like to follow people who share great information and links, or who willingly engage in conversations.
- Follow a few people you know and follow who they follow. Look at who they chat with or check their Following list on their profile page.
- Find a Twitter mentor who will help and guide you. Get them to ask their followers to add you.
- You can always ask me to help by sending a tweet to @suewaters. Make sure when people do start adding you that add them back quickly and thank them for adding you to their account!!!
- Don’t just follow anyone — follow those who have the same interests and who you like. Twitter also regularly shows you suggestions of people you might be interested in following.
- Remember following does not have to be forever — you can regularly update/change who you follow to suit your needs.
- Think about how you want to use Twitter: To follow the latest news? To follow other educators? To share what you know? To connect with others?
- Participate or check out the different weekly hashtag conversations. They are a great way to find new people to follow (refer to hashtag information below).
- Check out new followers before following. Look at their bio, how many people they are following, how many follow them and their latest tweets. This information helps you work out if they are the type of person you want to follow.
There are thousands of teachers around the world on Twitter, you just have to know where to find them!
There are many educational thought leaders who thousands of people enjoy following such as:
- George Couros (@gcouros)
- Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne)
- Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo)
- Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent)
- Shelley Sanchez (@shellterrell)
- David Geurin (@DavidGeurin)
- Matt Miller (@jmattmiller)
- Jennifer Gonzalez (@cultofpedagogy)
- John Spencer (@spencerideas)
- Eric Curts (@ericcurts)
- Kasey Bell (@ShakeUpLearning)
- Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist)
- Silvia Tolisano (@Langwitches)
- Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher)
- Sir Ken Robinson (@SirKenRobinson)
- Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom)
Additionally, there are many popular sources for keeping up to date with the latest news, trends, and research in education, such as:
- Edutopia (@Edutopia)
- EdSurge (@EdSurge)
- MindShift (@MindShiftKQED)
- TeachThought (@TeachThought)
- ISTE (@ISTE)
The examples listed above are only the tip of the iceberg and our lists are far from exhaustive!
Watch this 3-minute video to learn how to follow and connect with people on Twitter.
Tips for engaging in conversation
Twitter is very similar to a face to face conversation. Think of Twitter as a conversation with work colleagues in the lunch room. A mixture of small talk, relationship building, helping others, getting help and sharing is just as important on Twitter as it is in the lunch room.
Our tips for getting started with Twitter conversations:
- Be patient. It takes time to build your Twitter network.
- Use Twitter every day for four weeks, even if only for 5 minutes per day. Some people find that setting a goal of 15 minutes a day for the first few months helps.
- Remember Twitter is a two-way conversation — you need to answer as much as you ask but most importantly share, share, share.
- Participate and say something, anything. Don’t always expect people to always answer. It does depend on how many you follow and what you’re asking.
- Get involved in the conversation. Don’t be afraid to reply and if you don’t get a response back, don’t be offended. It happens — you’ll soon see those that do/don’t engage in conversations.
- Learn the Twitter language and how to use it well i.e. @, DM, #, hashtags, RT (see below)
- Some people find it easier to use a Twitter app like TweetDeck (we’ll explain how to use this below).
- Remember online is forever. If you didn’t want it online don’t say it in the first place.
- It’s extremely easy for others to misinterpret your written text. Remember this!
- Think about how what you say reflects how people visualize you.
- Educators love following people who share great links since it saves them time.
- You don’t have to keep up with everything that’s happening on Twitter! Don’t feel overwhelmed; this isn’t the way Twitter works. The river of tweets just keeps flowing day and night… you just dip your toes in whenever it suits you.
Twitter Language 101
Let’s break down the Twitter language. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Your Twitter username.
@reply and mentions
A @reply is used when a person is having a conversation with another tweeter. An @reply starts with the @username of the person who the tweet is directed at.
You’ll only see @replies between two people if you follow both people or you are looking at another person’s tweet timeline.
You reply to a tweet by simply clicking on the Reply icon.
And then add your message!
Mentions are any Twitter update that contains “@username” anywhere in the body of a tweet.
For example, you use @username within a tweet when referring to specific Twitter users. All your Twitter followers are alerted to your tweets including @username provided the person who you mention isn’t using a private Twitter account.
Your @replies and mentions are located under Mentions on your Notification page.
DM (also known as Direct Message)
Direct messages are private messages sent from one Twitter user to another. They can’t be seen by other users.
DMs are less restrictive than they use to be. As the BBC explained a few years ago,
Previously, direct messaging could only happen between two Twitter users who followed each other.
Users can now change the settings and opt to allow direct messages from any profile, including people or companies who don’t follow them.
The user can then reply with a direct message to the sender, but people can still block other users if they start abusing them or sending spam.
Direct messages are accessed by clicking on the Messages icon in the navigation bar via the web or on the Twitter app on your mobile device.
Any word starting with the “#” hash (pound) symbol is known as a hashtag. Hashtags make it easier to search and follow the Twitter conversations on specific topics.
We explain hashtags in more detail later in this guide.
RT (also known as a Retweet)
A Retweet is a re-posting of a tweet. It allows you to quickly share a tweet with all of your followers. Most people only Retweet tweets from someone else although you can Retweet your own tweets.
Sometimes people type “RT” at the beginning of a tweet to indicate that they are re-posting someone else’s content or they just press the RT symbol (two arrows) under a tweet. This is the simplest way.
You can retweet a tweet without comment or add your own annotation like in the example below.
You won’t always see “RT” at the start of a retweet as it does depend on what Twitter client you are using (e.g. the Twitter website or something like TweetDeck). Some clients automatically enclose the Tweet in quotes while other clients may add “via” and the original tweeter’s username at the end of the tweet.
MT (also known as a modified tweet)
Any tweet starting with “MT” means someone is re-tweeting someone else’s tweet but have modified the tweet. MT isn’t as common as RT.
A Retweet might be modified to make the tweet fit, to focus on the key message from the tweet, or to add your extra thoughts to the conversation.
With increased functionality on Twitter and double the characters allowed in a tweet than in previous years, you’re unlikely to see many MTs.
Likes are represented by a heart icon on the tweet and are used when a Tweeter wants to save (refer) to a tweet later or show their appreciation of a tweet.
When you like a tweet, the original person who posted the tweet is usually notified that you liked their tweet. You access the tweets you have liked by clicking on Likes in the navigation bar via the web.
Search and trends
Learning how to search Twitter well is a key skill for getting the most out of Twitter. You can search for any person, keyword, hashtag etc. using the search box in the admin bar via the web or using the Twitter app.
In the Twitter app on a phone, it also lists Trends for you and what’s happening when you click on Search. You’ll see the same thing when you’re using the web version of Twitter. These trends are customized based on your location and who you follow.
Try it out for yourself! Click on one of the items in your trending list and go through the most popular tweets.
Or, next time there’s an important news story locally or globally, search for the name of the location or event and check out the latest tweets as it is being reported.
When there is a popular education conference happening, you’ll often see the hashtag trending as well. This is a great way to get involved!
Notifications and Mentions
The Notifications page offers a simple way to see how others on Twitter are interacting with you.
An icon will show you when you have new notifications.
Click on Notifications in the navigation bar via the web or on the Twitter app on your mobile device and you’ll see all tweets directed to you (@replies and mentions), new followers, your Tweets that have been liked by other users, and any Twitter lists you’ve been added to.
Click on the Mentions tab on the Notifications page if you only want to see your @replies and mentions.
If you click on your profile image on the web version of Twitter and go to settings > notifications, you can customize the notifications you want to be alerted to.
Interacting With Tweets
When you see a tweet, there are certain things you can click on:
- The person’s name to see their profile page. You can look at their bio and see all their tweets.
- Follow to have the tweeter’s future tweets show up on your homepage.
- A link (if there is one) to open a website in your browser.
- A hashtag to see other tweets that are categorized with the same hashtag (regardless of whether you follow the people using that hashtag)
- Like (the heart) — this shows your appreciation, agreement, or acknowledgment of the tweet. Simply, tap/click the heart to like the tweet (tap/click again to undo). Some people use likes to save tweets to refer back to.
- Retweet to share the tweet with your own followers. This demonstrates that you found the tweet interesting or shareworthy. You will also have the option to add a comment to the retweet.
- Direct message — you can message someone privately or start a private group conversation. Depending on individual settings, you might only be able to direct message someone if you both follow each other.
- Comments — this allows you to either read what other people have said in a public reply, or add your own reply.
You’ll need to spend some time checking out the stream of tweets and getting the hang of tweeting, retweeting, direct messaging, and hashtags.
Some people say Twitter isn’t as intuitive as other web tools but it doesn’t take long for it to make sense. Give yourself a few weeks to try it. Whenever you have a few spare minutes, open Twitter, scroll through your feed, click on some links, watch how people are interacting with each other.
If the people you’re following don’t interest you, it’s fine to unfollow them. Remember, you’re in charge of building your own personal PLN.
When you’ve lurked for a while, jump and contribute! Like or retweet a few tweets, reply to tweets that resonated with you, and send tweets of your own. You could try contacting a few people via direct message too — ask them a question or introduce yourself.
It may take some time to get the hang of how Twitter works. We’ve made this cheat sheet to help. Feel free to share it with others or use it on your own blog.
Remember, the more you put in, the more you get out.
Don’t be afraid to start replying to people, retweeting tweets, asking questions, and striking up conversations.
Many teachers on Twitter are very friendly and always happy to help newbies find their feet!
What To Tweet About
Still not sure what you could be tweeting about? How about:
- A photo from a lesson (be careful using students’ photos)
- A link to something interesting you’ve read
- A question about a topic you’re interested in
- A request for a resource
- A link to something from your own blog or someone else’s blog
- A favorite online tool you like to use with students
Make Your Tweets Stand Out
Once you get the hang of the basics, you might want to start considering how you can get your tweets to stand out more.
You can just share a simple link but is this really going to be noticed in a busy stream of tweets?
Compare these two tweets about the same post and consider which one would stand out more…
Images, emojis, quotes, summaries of information, GIFs, videos etc. all help to make a tweet stand out and encourage others to read it, share it, engage with you, follow you, and/or click on the link to the post.
Examples Of Interesting Tweets From Educators On Twitter
Tony Vincent is well known for his graphics he creates for social media. These are always shared extensively.
— Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent) July 20, 2018
— Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent) July 10, 2018
There are lots of special books that are super fun to pair with The Dot and #DotDay I have starting bringing them together on this @padlet What else should we add, friends. <3 https://t.co/3ZGvIzFm9d #futurereadylibs #kidlit #ISTElib #tlchat #inTLchat #edchat pic.twitter.com/xi5rxWj5JP
— Shannon Miller (@shannonmmiller) June 5, 2018
Need to type the Quadratic Formula into a @GoogleDoc? Just click Insert > Equation. #MiddleSchool #MathChat #HighSchool #BlendedLearning #STEM #STEMChat #SciChat https://t.co/jgyMWK9m6d pic.twitter.com/cvx2fUoFbW
— Jake Miller (@JakeMillerTech) July 24, 2018
Quotes are always popular additions to tweets. Check out our post on quotes if you want to learn how to make your own.
— edublogs (@edublogs) December 16, 2017
— edublogs (@edublogs) July 16, 2018
Sketchnoting has taken the edtech world by storm over the last few years. Julie Woodard is well known for her excellent sketchnotes which are a great way to visualize and summarize content. Here’s an example:
— Julie Woodard (@woodard_julie) July 9, 2018
BookSnaps are a popular choice for sharing snippets of professional reading. Tara Martin coined the term BookSnaps and you can read more about them on her website.
Here is an example of a simple BookSnap from Jennifer Tod.
— Jennifer Tod (@mrstodbooklove) July 19, 2018
Emojis can catch a reader’s eye and make a nice addition to a summary for the time poor.
Four ways to teach happiness:
👍 Take time to notice the positives
😌 Help students to step out of ‘panic mode’
🤸♂️Cut class short in favour of exercise
🙏 Promote random acts of kindnesshttps://t.co/s9gVmWZ8xw @AdrianBethune @Helen_Amass @tes @PosEdNet
— Action for Happiness (@actionhappiness) June 29, 2018
🤳 What makes a good video response? @HollyClarkEdu‘s 7th graders’ list:
👀 Look into the camera
🚷 Don’t move too much
🛑 Avoid ums, likes, and so
🗣 Practice before recording
💬 Use examples or quotes
👌 Be concise
👵🏻 Be direct & nice
— Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent) July 5, 2018
Make Your Posts Look Better When Shared
If you are a blogger, it’s important to add a Share option to your blog posts as Twitter is an essential way people now learn about posts worth reading.
Here are two different sharing options you could use:
You also want your posts to stand out when shared by other people. You achieve this by enabling Twitter cards on your blog.
Twitter cards are designed to optimize your content on Twitter by improving the way your content is displayed. This helps achieve more interaction, Retweets, likes, and increased visits to your site.
Here’s what a tweet like without Twitter Card:
Here’s what a tweet looks with a Twitter Card:
Here are two different options you could use to enable Twitter Cards:
Public vs Protected Accounts
By default, when you sign up for Twitter your account is public and anyone can see your tweets.
Some Twitter users prefer to use protected Twitter accounts where their updates are kept private; only approved followers can see their tweets. You change your privacy options in Settings > Privacy and Safety.
There are people who won’t follow someone who uses a protected Twitter account.
For those who won’t follow protected Twitter accounts, it is important to understand there are numerous reasons why an educator use a protected account and it might not be related to concerns of posting an inappropriate tweet.
If you have a protected account, your followers won’t be able to Retweet your tweets and if you reply to someone who isn’t following you, they won’t see your reply.
Read more about public and protected tweets.
Getting More Out Of Twitter Using Twitter Clients
Many people say using a Twitter client or app is a MUST as they provide instant notification of the latest updates and offer an easy way to respond to tweets.
Some people prefer to use the standard web version of Twitter, especially when starting out (to access this you just go to https://twitter.com/ in your web browser)
Which Twitter client you use is personal. There used to be a plethora of options but Twitter has cracked down on some third-party apps and prefers users to use the web version or TweetDeck (which they now own).
The most commonly used Twitter clients are:
TweetDeck and Hootsuite are popular because their ability to add extra columns makes it easy to filter and keep up with conversations. You can sign into TweetDeck and Hootsuite using your web browser.
Getting Started With TweetDeck
Tweetdeck was once an independent app that has now been acquired by Twitter.
Many users enjoy using it to organize their feed since you can add extra columns to filter and organize conversations as well as manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts.
To get started with TweetDeck you just need to:
1. Go to https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/
2. Sign in with your Twitter account.
- Use your personal Twitter account that isn’t shared with other people (ie. if you have a work account that you share with others, don’t use that). Once you have signed in, you can connect multiple Twitter accounts to your TweetDeck account.
3. Below is a summary of the main features of TweetDeck.
4. Click Compose a tweet icon to write your tweet.
5 Here’s a quick overview of what each icon on a tweet does.
Clicking on the More icon reveals other options.
6. You can move a column, customize, change alerts, and delete columns by clicking on the down arrow on a column.
Here’s a quick video on how to use Tweetdeck.
Getting Started With The Twitter App
About Twitter Moments
A Twitter moment is a collection of tweets that is curated together in an easy share format.
Twitter moments were originally used by Twitter to share curated content categorized into five areas — today, news, sport, entertainment, and fun. Twitter aimed to share the most engaging conversations on Twitter. The purpose was to make news events easier to find and follow.
Twitter moments are my main daily news source because moments are the fastest way of finding out the latest news as it is happening.
You check the latest trending moments by clicking on Moments in the navigation bar via the web or by tapping on Search in the Twitter app on your phone.
You read a moment by clicking on the title of the moment to scroll through the curated tweets.
Twitter now allows users to create their own moments.
Read Aaron Hogan’s Capture the Moment: Using Twitter moments in Education to learn more or watch Richard Byrne’s How to Create Twitter Moments.
How To Post Links
People often share links to all sorts of things: blog posts they’ve written or read, articles they’ve enjoyed, online tools they recommend and so on.
It’s common to see links posted on Twitter appear as shortened links because it makes it easier to include a URL within the 280 character Twitter limit.
Previously, if you wanted a shortened link when writing a tweet on the Twitter.com web interface you had to use a URL shortening services, such as tinyurl.com and bit.ly, and then paste the shortened link into the tweet box on Twitter.com.
Twitter has now introduced automatic link shortening which means you no longer need to use a third-party service to shorten your links. All links posted into the compose box on Twitter.com, TweetDeck, and the mobile Twitter app are automatically shortened.
Some Twitter clients automatically shorten links for you using services such as bit.ly.
While you can continue to use another URL shortening service, the benefits of using Twitter’s automatic link shortening include:
- It’s quicker.
- Unlike other URL shorteners, Twitter’s shortener, t.co, creates a link that is a shortened version of the original link and includes the full domain name so your followers will know the site they are going to when they click the link.
- Shortened links are a common method used to hacked Twitter accounts. URLs converted by Twitter’s link service are checked against potentially dangerous sites — this is designed to help protect users from malicious, phishing and offensive links.
Connecting Using Hashtags
A hashtag is written with the “#” hash (pound) sign and is used to index keywords or topics on Twitter.
Putting a hashtag symbol (#) in front of a relevant keyword or phrase helps to categorize the tweet and make it easier for people to find.
A hashtag is any word on Twitter that starts with the “#” hash (pound) sign.
Hashtags make it easier to search and follow the Twitter conversations on specific topics.
When you click on the hashtagged word or phrase, such as #STUBC in the tweet we’ve embedded above, a new page will load with tweets from everyone who is tweeting about STUBC— whether or not you follow those people.
Hashtags can’t have any spaces so math chat becomes #mathchat.
Hashtags are also commonly used at conferences to share thoughts on presentations, organize meetups, and coordinate after-parties.
What Hashtag Should I Use?
You can use any hashtag you like, however, if it’s not being used by others then people won’t be following it or searching for it. So to get the most out of hashtags, you should usually use ones that others are using.
Note that hashtags are not created by Twitter, but by Twitter users. Often if there is an event going on, the organizers will publish the official hashtag on the conference materials and social media.
For example, when ISTE 2018 (edtech conference) was happening, ISTE tweeted out the official hashtag:
— ISTE (@iste) June 22, 2018
For more hashtags used in education refer to:
- Jerry Blumengarten (aka Cybrary Man) is well known for curating hashtags used in education. You can find the complete list on his site.
- Ryan O’Donnell has also used information from Cybrary Man’s site and the November Learning team to curate a list of popular hashtags in education.
Find the original image here.
10 Tips For Using Hashtags
- Do not place hashtags in front of keywords in your tweet for no real reason.
- Excessive overuse of hashtags can make you look like a Twitter spammer.
- People often use one or two hashtags in a tweet. If you’re used to using Instagram you’ll notice that hashtags on tweets are used more sparingly than on Instagram.
- Hashtag are for referencing events, news, software, or memes, not for random words.
- Commonly used hashtags such as #edchat or #edtech are great for finding new people and conversations you would never have discovered otherwise.
- If you use hashtags well, people who are not following you may see your tweets and follow you.
- Always check the hashtag you’re planning to use by searching Twitter Search or use a free tool like hashtagify.me to make sure it isn’t already being used for another purpose.
- Set up a search for hashtags using your Twitter client to make it easier to engage in the conversations (see video below).
- Some people like to use hashtags in a humorous way like #ILoveHolidays or #SendEarplugs. This can be fun occasionally but don’t go overboard! These examples aren’t hashtags that anyone would follow or search, they’re just used light-heartedly to add a humorous effect. Less is more.
- You don’t have to keep running the same search for hashtags you want to follow regularly. See below.
Learning how to use hashtags well, and who you follow, are key skills for getting the most out of Twitter.
You can type a hashtagged keyword in the search bar on Twitter to discover tweets and accounts based on your interests. There are easier ways to follow hashtags so you don’t have to keep running the same search.
TweetDeck is commonly used to follow hashtags that you want to keep track of regularly (the Twitter search bar is fine if you just want to do one-off searches).
Check out this six-minute video by Jennifer Fox to find out how to set up TweetDeck to follow hashtags.
Participating In Twitter Chats
Twitter chats are where educators meet at a set ‘meeting time’ to engage in conversations by sending out tweets on a topic using a designated hashtag.
The hashtag is the glue that brings the chat together. It’s essential. Otherwise, people would be tweeting out responses that might not be seen by any of the participants.
Most Twitter chats last for an hour and they’re run at the same time each week or month.
During the Twitter chat, you’ll see educators tweet their responses in real time. The best way to participate in a Twitter chat is to set up a search for the hashtag in TweetDeck, Hootsuite, or in the Twitter app on your mobile device. Some people also use tchat.
Note: Twitter chats are popular with the teaching community but the concept isn’t exclusive to education. There are Twitter chats for other niches like marketing, fitness, writing, parenting etc.
If you’d prefer to watch a video to learn, this is a great short overview of Twitter chats by The University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Twitter chats normally have a moderator (or several) who guide the conversation during the chat using a Question and Answer format.
Prior to the Twitter chat, the moderators decide on the topic of the chat and organize a series of 5-10 questions to ask during the chat.
The chat normally starts by introducing the topic and asking participants to introduce themselves.
Check out Laura Moore’s video below which explains how to take part in a Twitter chat using TweetDeck.
Note: The video goes for 25 minutes because Laura has recorded herself participating in an actual chat. You can just watch the first few minutes if you just want to learn how to get set up for a chat.
Finding Twitter Chats
Now you know about Twitter chats it’s time to find one and take part!
There are many places to find chats that interest you and work with your schedule.
- Check out the Twitter chat calendar for educators.
- Explore Kasey Bell’s Educational Hashtag and Twitter Chat Database. You can submit your own hashtags too.
- Participate.com/chats is another place to find educational Twitter chats organized by your timezone.
Examples Of Twitter Chats
Here are a few examples of popular Twitter Chats to help you get started:
All the times listed below are in Eastern Standard Time (USA).
- Use this time zone converter to help figure out what time this will be for you.
- Double check the time by clicking on the links as things can change with daylight savings etc!
- Please leave a comment and let us know if we have any of the information below incorrect.
The “original” education chat. This one is very busy and fast paced. Takes place on Tuesdays 12 PM and 7 PM EST. Learn more here.
This chat focuses on educational technology and is held every Monday at 7 PM EST. Find out more here.
Educators discuss shaping the future of school. Takes place Thursdays at 7 PM. Find out more here.
A chat for those working with younger children. Held on Mondays 2:30 PM and 8 PM EST. Learn more here.
For special education (see more here). Takes place on Tuesdays from 9 PM EST.
Created by Ditch That Textbook author Matt Miller. The chat focuses on innovative teaching ideas. Takes place on Tuesdays from 9 PM EST. Find out more.
I Can’t Keep Up With A Twitter Chat
Tweets can fly fast in a Twitter chat! Don’t worry if you can’t keep up.
Here are some tips to help:
- Archives: Moderators often archive or curate the information and resources shared during the chat session. This used to be through tools like Storify but this service has closed. Sometimes a tool like Wakelet is now used or there will be a specific website or blog for a Twitter chat.
- Be prepared: Moderators often publish the questions that will be asked in advance so you can think ahead. You can also get your Tweetdeck (or other app) set up before a chat so you’re ready to go.
- Be selective: You don’t need to answer every question. Twitter chats are very flexible. They often go for an hour but no one minds how long you stay or how involved you are.
- Follow up: If you were interested in what someone had to say but you found the tweets were flying too fast, don’t worry. You can resume the conversation with people at any time.
- Bookmark: A relatively new feature of Twitter for mobile is Bookmarks (it’s rolling out on the web version too). You can bookmark Tweets you’d like to refer to later. Tap the share icon next to a tweet and select Add Tweet to Bookmarks. Tap Bookmarks from your profile icon menu to access your saved tweets.
- Like: If you like a tweet by pressing on the heart, you can go back and look at these later. Just click on the Likes from your profile icon menu.
- Lurk: It’s fine to just watch a few chats before you decide to contribute. The first question is generally an introduction so don’t be afraid to say it’s your first time participating either.
You’ll also notice that Twitter chat hashtags are often used outside of the designated time frame to share resources, ask questions and help each other. The hashtag becomes a community!
Here’s an example of questions being posted in advance for #NT2t chat.
Getting “resourceful” during #NT2t today at 8amCDT (global times on pic). Stop by, invite a friend, and show how resourceful you are! #edchat #edchatie #edchatDE #satchat #satchatwc pic.twitter.com/3GmYKvN1HX
— Julie Szaj (@shyj) October 6, 2018
Create And Use Twitter Lists
A great aspect of Twitter is you can organize other Twitter users into groups called ‘lists’. When you view a list, you’ll see a Twitter stream of all the users that are included in that group.
The benefits of Twitter lists are twofold:
1. They help you organize who you’re following
Lists let you organize your followers into different groups of people and/or areas of interest. Instead of trying to listen to what all your Twitter followers are saying, you can focus on the key conversations by the main people whose tweets you want to read.
This reduces the noise created when you’re following lots of users. It saves you time and lets you quickly connect with those you most want to interact with.
Twitter clients and the Twitter.com web interface are designed to let you quickly check your Twitter lists.
2. They help other Twitter users
Twitter lists can be public or private. A public Twitter list can be viewed by anyone and other Twitter users can quickly follow your list or choose people from your list to follow.
A private list and the list members can only be viewed by you.
Public list also highlight who other Twitter users recommend as worth following. If you look at a user’s profile in TweetDeck it displays the number of lists a user has been added to.
Twitter lists are handy if you’re running a workshop on using Twitter, or want to encourage your students to follow specific Twitter users. It’s as simple as creating the list and then getting them to either follow the list or the users on the list.
- You don’t need to be following someone to add them to a list.
- Subscribing to someone’s list doesn’t mean you’re now following all users on that list. You’ll just see the tweets from users when you view that list. You need to click follow next a user if you want to follow them and have their tweets appear in your Twitter timeline.
Watch this two-minute video to learn how to create Twitter Lists.
There is a range of tools that can be used to schedule your tweets to be posted at specific times and date.
This is handy for:
- Promoting events or sharing details on conference sessions — especially when you might be busy at the event.
- Sharing information with Twitter followers in different time zones.
- Sharing links and information while you’re away.
- Situations where you might forget or can’t post but want to make sure the information is shared.
Schedule tweets with caution. For example: If you schedule a tweet on the hour every hour, even when you’re sleeping, you might look like a robot!
Examples of tools you can use to schedule tweets include:
TweetDeck makes it really easy! Click on the Schedule Tweet button after composing your tweet.
Set the time and date then click on the Tweet at button.
How To Embed Tweets
You may notice we’ve embedded a few tweets throughout this blog post.
You can easily embed tweets into your blog posts as follows:
1. Click on the dropdown arrow on the tweet you want to embed and click on Copy link to Tweet.
2. Go to Posts > Add New or Pages > Add New.
3. Paste the URL on a line by itself in your post/page editor.
Below is what an embedded tweet looks like:
Do You Teach Social Studies To ELLs & Want To Write A Guest Post About It? https://t.co/K7ohrYYf2W
— Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo) October 12, 2018
Customizing your Twitter profile
You can customize your profile by selecting unique profile and header images, adding a name, bio, location, website, and theme color.
You can also pin a Tweet that other people will see when they visit your profile. For bloggers, this is often a tweet about a recent or popular blog post. Some people pin a tweet that particularly resonates with them or demonstrates their teaching philosophy.
Click on the dropdown arrow on the tweet you want to pin and select Pin to your profile page.
You edit your profile as follows:
1. Go to your profile (click on your avatar and then tap on Profile)
2. Click on Edit Profile.
3. Click the camera icon on your header image to change your header photo.
- The recommended dimensions for a header photo is 1500 x 500 pixels.
- The header is visible when someone visits your profile from any device, and changes with the screen size.
- The header has visible and invisible areas that change depending on if your profile is viewed on a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. Refer to this header template to learn more.
- Popular header images for teachers include landscapes, a classroom photo, or a quote. You can make a personalized Twitter header image with tools like Canva.
3. Click the camera icon on your profile image to change it.
- The recommended dimensions for your profile photo is 400 x 400 pixels.
4. Edit your name, bio (maximum of 160 characters), location, website, and theme color.
5. Click Save Changes.
What To Do If Your Twitter Account Is Hacked
There are Twitter worms that work by hacking user accounts by stealing their account credentials when the user clicks on a link.
Unexpected tweets or sudden unintended DMs being sent from your account are indicators your account might have been compromised.
Here’s what you need to do if your account has been compromised.
Keeping Up With Links Shared On Twitter
A Twitter network is a rich source of great links to read and it’s handy to grab these links using Twitter tools so you can check them out at your leisure.
Here’s some options:
- Flipboard — collects the content of social networks and websites and then presents them in a magazine format on a mobile device. Learn more about using Flipboard here.
- Shiftlinks — creates an RSS feed of your links posted by your Twitter followers which you can subscribe to using an feed reader such as Feedly. This works works well when following a small number of people.
- Paper.li — creates a daily newspaper based on the top links shared by your Twitter follower. Here’s my personalised Paper.li.
Paper-li can be set up to send an automatic tweet of your daily newspaper and identify the source of your top stories of the day based on RTs, Favorites etc. A similar popular tool if you want a daily email digest of the most popular tweets in your network is Nuzzel.
Flipboard is popular for anyone using a mobile device because it allows you to easily read, share, bookmark, and retweet links from within the Flipboard app. Learn more about using Flipboard here.
This 5-minute video goes through how I use Flipboard to keep up with links shared on Twitter.
Using Twitter With Students
Educators aren’t just using Twitter for their personal learning; they are also using it in innovative ways in their classrooms. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of class and school Twitter accounts over recent years.
You’ll find a list of Twitter class accounts here.
Here are some tips for using Twitter with students:
- Set up a classroom Twitter account separate from your personal Twitter account. Some teachers allow their students to log in to the class Twitter account during class to compose tweets but the tweets aren’t allowed to be sent until checked by the teacher or an adult.
- If you decide to use a hashtag specific to your school or classroom community make sure it isn’t being used by others. (Search on Twitter or on hastagify.me)
- Carefully select who you follow as students will see all tweets by any account you are following. Drew Frank’s Classroom Twitter list can be used to find other class Twitter accounts to follow.
- Make sure parents are aware you are using Twitter in class and check your school’s policies to find out if parent’s need to sign a permission form.
- Carefully consider whether you want to use images of students on Twitter and ensure you have permission. Read more about using images of students online here.
Find out more about using Twitter in your Classroom:
- 25 Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom (TeachThought)
- 10 Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom (The Edvocate)
- A List of 18 Twitter-Based Classroom Activities for Learning With Social Media (Global Digital Citizen Foundation)
Over To You
Effective teaching and learning does not occur in a vacuum. To be the best teacher you can be, you need a diverse and innovative network.
With Twitter, the barriers of distance and access are broken down and the world is at your fingertips!
Twitter might feel overwhelming but if you give it a chance for a few weeks it will really start to make sense and you will see how it’s so popular with educators.
Have we missed any important tips or resources?
Let us know in the comments below. Scroll down to find the comment box.
You made it this far? Woohoo! That was one long resource. You deserve a badge! 😉 Be sure to share your achievement on Twitter!