Friday 5: Twitter 101

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Lucy Gray

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Jun 18, 2009, 11:37:58 PM6/18/09
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Hi Everyone -

Sorry for the gaps in Friday 5 production. I've had a very busy
spring, mostly because I changed jobs about a month ago. I am still
working at the University of Chicago, only I am working with a
different unit, the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science
Education. This group is responsible for the invention of Everyday
Math if you are familiar with that elementary school program. I will
be working on a variety of projects for CEMSE and I'm thrilled for
this opportunity. For you, this will probably mean more Friday 5s on
math and science topics!

Anyway, this week's list is prompted by the media buzz surrounding the
recent Iranian elections and the influence of Twitter upon the
dissemination of information flowing from that region. If you have
been living under a rock which many teachers in the US are at this
time of year, check out this New York Times article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/world/middleeast/17media.html.

To put it simply, Twitter is a microblogging tool in which you post
messages of 140 characters are less. Your "tweets" are only seen by
those that "follow" you. Your followers usually are friends, family
and/or people that have similar interests. You are prompted to answer
a question, "What are you doing?" which is taken literally by many
people. Hence, you may run into pretty mundane and pointless tweets
from people like celebrity Ashton Kutcher (example: "I hate the after
working out feeling like I'm gonna throw up feeling. I hate it, but I
love it. lol"). Hopefully, you'll see Ashton as a cautionary tale and
you'll learn to tweet stuff that your followers will find useful or at
least interesting.

When used well, Twitter can be the most powerful professional
development tool in your education arsenal. I follow many people and
organizations related to areas that interest me: education,
technology, Apple, Google, global education etc. I use a tool called
Tweetdeck to manage all of this, and with Tweetdeck, I can do searches
of other tweets on topics that interest me. For instance, I have a
search set up for Everyday Math, global education and citizen science
right now. I have discovered a plethora of resources and other people
to follow through searching. I also like to share what I find, and
giving back to those you follow is an important part of Twitter
culture.

At any rate, Twitter is something that you are not going to really get
unless you jump in and try it. Explore and stick with using this
amazing tool and I think you'll see what all the recent buzz is about.

To get started, make a Twitter account and check out the following
resources:

1. Twitter in Plain English
http://www.commoncraft.com/twitter

- a great video that explains Twitter in a nutshell

2. 7 Things You Should Know about Twitter
http://www.educause.edu/ELI/7ThingsYouShouldKnowAboutTwitt/161801

-Educause publishes a series of excellent articles detailing new and
emerging technologies.

3. Tweetdeck
http://tweetdeck.com/beta/

-Use this third party app to manage Twitter. It's much better than
using the Twitter web interface.

4. TwitThis
http://twitthis.com/

-Install this tool into your browser's toolbar so that you can share
web sites on the fly as you surf.

5. Hootsuite
http://hootsuite.com/

-This is a great tool for managing multiple Twitter accounts. Try this
out once you've mastered Twitter basics.

6. Twitter Freaks Group
http://groups.diigo.com/groups/twitter-freaks

-If you get hooked on Twitter and want to learn more about other tools
have been developed to harness its power, join my Twitter Freak group
and browse the many resources that have been shared to this
bookmarking group.
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