Twitter is the new black. Everyone is doing it! Well, everyone except, of course, our schools. For most, the issue starts and ends with the firewall departments. Twitter is blocked and therefore no further discussion is necessary. But even if Twitter is blocked, isn't there still value in using it after hours and with those who have a vested interest in school-based updates?
Some school districts and individual schools ARE using Twitter to issue updates to the community. There certainly are many teachers who use Twitter and we've all seen many presentations where the benefits of using Twitter in the classroom are sung with great praise. What's missing is what it all really looks like.
How do you get administrators on board? How do you get your principal or other administrators who may be nervous, to allow you to give it a shot?
How do you get parents on board? Do you explain how Twitter works at a Parent Night? Do you create a white-paper or video tutorial? Face it, if it looks too difficult then we've already lost most of them. Signing up for Twitter and entering your cellphone number is a pretty scary thing for many. How do you ease people's fears about this (in the few minutes you have to address it)?
How do you determine what you will tweet? Obviously, a school district and school will have many more generic tweets, but what about individual classes? Do you tweet about upcoming quizzes, projects, and lunch menu changes? What about Author of the Week or other happenings that might involve individual students?
Do you protect your updates? If you do, how do you determine who you let follow you and if you've gone to that much trouble, how do you determine who those folks really are?
- Conversations? or Announcements?
Do you follow back? If so, why?
Whenever I venture into new territory, the first thing I do is seek out those who are already actively involved. I've created a few collaborative documents to try to compile information on those who are currently using Twitter in our schools. The first is for school districts on Twitter. The inspiration for this was when I learned that the school district next door to us (where it's blocked BTW) was using Twitter to issue updates to the community; but we were/are not. I wanted to find out if there were many other districts trying it out as well. This spreadsheet has since proven helpful to many educators as we all continue to argue for reasonable awareness as it relates to our school districts using Web 2.0 and social networking tools. If you have something to contribute, feel free to edit it here.
The next document is specifically for classroom teachers who use Twitter with their students and/or their parents. Feel free to edit this one as well.
The last is a wiki site I set up in a manner of minutes thanks to a tweet sent out by Liz Kolb (@lkolb) Here, I'm looking for some concrete examples of how teachers are using Twitter with their kids or parents. Please add or glean ideas here as well.
If you're someone who has never considered using Twitter in the classroom, I encourage you to check out a few of the Twitter names on the last spreadsheet and check out their tweets. I've already learned a lot about the different ways teachers can not only keep parents informed but motivate students to stay involved.