- Help them find and connect to fellow administrators and educators who are prolifically engaged in the Twitter conversation. This can be difficult because just connecting to massive administrative or educator lists found on sites like Twibes may not yield solid connections. You can use these sites as a starting place, but administrators just dipping into Twitter need quality connections not quantity. For their Twitter PLN to become dynamic and truly profesionally useful, teaching them how to be selective about followers will go a long way. Help them find administrators and educators who share solid ideas and resources and who use Twitter to engage in the global education conversation.
- Help them find their “Twitter Voice.” One of the important ways to grow a vibrant Twitter PLN is to post updates. If you are going to use Twitter to engage education colleagues globally, you’ve got to post. This means you have to have a Twitter voice; those in your PLN have to hear you. Teachers and technologists who want to get their administrators engaged in using Twitter need to help them find that voice by guiding them in posting. Encourage them to post ideas they’ve gleaned from professional learning and personal tidbits of wisdom rather than what they had for lunch. Teach them to compose and post a variety of Tweets such as:
- Resource Sharing Tweets: These can be links to online resources, titles of books they value, or conferences they’ve found effective. Sharing is what Twitter is about.
- Quote Tweets: I read a great deal and keep a list of quotes from all my reading. Occasionally, one of those quotes just seems to be an excellent item to share, especially in the middle of an educational issue conversation I’m following.
- Opinion Tweets: These can be your own opinions on educational issues or other issues being discussed in the media. Or, you can post other opinions. Most often these Tweets invite discussion or comments from the Twitter PLN.
- Responses to Other Tweets (Mentions): These are personal reactions to what others have posted. This is as important as posting original Tweets if Twitter is actually to be used to engage in the global conversation about education.
- Question Tweets: These are questions about issues and problems that invite responses from those on the Twitter PLN. There is nothing wrong with posting an thought provoking question and inviting responses.
- Help them set up and use a Twitter client. The web version of Twitter is perhaps not the best way for administrators to engage in using Twitter. I am partial those clients like Tweetdeck that allow users to set up multiple columns. For example, I can follow my regular timeline, my mentions, my #edchat stream, and administrators list all at once. Teach administrators how to use these kinds of clients so that they can use them to effectively follow their PLN. Otherwise, following the Tweet stream may be more problematic.
- Help them to understand that quantity of followers and those who they are following is not the most important. Instead, show them quality Twitter users to follow. Make recommendations to them, but not too many. A quality Twitter PLN is dynamic and almost a living thing. There’s no need focus on statistics such as followers. Focus instead on getting connected with the best contributors to the global conversation about education.
Getting Administrators to set up a Twitter account is only a first step, and just doing that is not going to get them engaged in using it. Instead, Twitter-savy technologists, teachers and administrators need to help them begin the process of getting engaged in a Twitter PLN. This means providing them with a level of guided practice until they become engaged in their own Twitter PLN.