Sunday, July 14, 2013

3 Reasons Educators Need to Use Multiple Twitter Accounts

The widespread use of Twitter by educators is evident by the number of educators using it. Just following the Twitter stream during the course of a week, and you'll see several "chats" devoted to education and educational practice. Also, it's becoming increasingly hard to attend conferences where hashtags aren't part of the experience. For the most part, though, educators use Twitter in two ways:
  1. To effectively promote the classroom, school or school district and inform the larger community
  2. To foster and develop connections with other educators and experts to develop what is known as a Professional Learning Network, or PLN.
Because these two purposes for using Twitter are quite different, having multiple accounts set up for these dual purposes makes sense. For example, a school level principal can leverage more power from using Twitter by having an account or username for PLN purposes, and an account for PR and school promotional and informational purposes. In a word, this means establishing and maintaining each Twitter account for a specific purpose or function.

But why engage in using multiple Twitter accounts? Would it not be too problematic to maintain multiple accounts? Actually, it may be more problematic to use a single account. Here's some reasons to think about.

  • Having multiple Twitter accounts each tied to very specific purposes is more efficient. A Twitter account dedicated to your school should be for the purpose of promoting school activity and for informing your public. Your personal-professional account should be used to foster connections with educators and for the development of your PLN. It is more efficient to use these accounts for the specific purposes for which they are established. Using a single Twitter account for PLN development and school PR functions means you aren't efficiently directing your posts to the intended audiences. Having accounts designed for both of these purposes means your posts are more efficient.
  • Having Twitter accounts for specific purposes reduces the potential of confusing for whom or what the account is speaking. For example, posting an opinion about school policy or practice is fine for a personal-professional account, but would be less so from a school or district account. The voice of the account should be tied to its purpose, and using a school or organizational account to participate in a discussion of policy during a chat might give the appearance that you're providing the official stance of your organization. To keep this from happening, establish a personal-professional account and one for your classroom, school or district. As you Tweet, use the appropriate account and there should be little doubt regarding in what capacity you're speaking.
  • Having Twitter accounts for specific purposes means being able to better manage your connections. For example, many parents might not be particularly interested in all your posts regarding theories of pedagogy and teaching, but they would like to follow the latest news about your school. To do this effectively, multiple Twitter accounts means having the ability to follow multiple sets of connections. You school account would be primarily connected to parents, students, and stakeholders interested in your school. Your PLN account would be connected to those professionals who are interested in improving professional practice. That way, you can more effectively direct your Tweets to the intended audience because you have better managed your connections.
As Twitter moves further and further into the mainstream, using it effectively and wisely as educators becomes more and more important. One important way to do this is to use multiple accounts, each set up for its own specific purpose. Having multiple Twitter accounts just makes sense. The same would seem to also apply to Facebook and other social media as well.

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