We are not alone in Twitterverse

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The immense and vigorous impact of social media is profoundly reforming the way we communicate. It redefines how we socialize, intellectually share and even market business. This holistic transformation has scared many educators of using social media channels and numerous schools have these channels blocked. Opponents of utilizing social media in classrooms debate that it has many dark sides and could affect the wellbeing of learners. However advocates controversy that we as educators need to look at social media as a tamable tool for sharing and having a voice for teachers and students. We are not alone in Twitterverse (Twitter global community) and we need to be able to communicate with other forms of life in it to our best.

Social media is one of the most sophisticated disruptive innovation, the latter is a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen which describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors. (http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key)

If you are looking for a repertoire of best practices and diverse experiences, social media is the mine you are in quest of. It’s a 24/7 professional development, that you can sit for at your own pace and preference. However with the massive flood of posts you could easily get drifted and lose focus. In this post, some tips will be shared to guide an educator on how to be engaged in Twitter as one of the most powerful social media channels. Teachers can extend their experience with Twitter to classroom to empower student centered learning. So how do you get to know Twitterverse better. How do you make an efficient use of Twitterverse resources and how do you keep traveling safe in it.

What is Twitterverse for you as an educator?

Here are some tips to help you getting started with Twitter:

  • Try to speak and discuss with colleagues who use Twitter. Follow their Twitter accounts and get going.
  • Follow people who have experiences in what you need, looking at tweeps bio and randomly checking on their posts will give you a good indication about their interests and specialization.
  • To find your proper path on Twitter, you need to look for hashtags of your interest and search posts about them. This will narrow the information you are exposed to.
  • Many of Twitter hashtags have weekly chats associated with them. Search for announcements about these chats to check on their timing and topic. Get engaged with these chats as much as you can as a start. In a while you will be able to stream to the chats that best suit your needs.
  • Consistency in using Twitter is important. This will guarantee that your audience (followers) and other tweeps will stay connected with you.
  • Choose your PLN (Personal Learning Network) carefully as they will be part of your digital foot print and will decide on the best you can do with Twitter

What is Twitterverse for students in the classroom?

Using Twitter in classrooms will encourage students who are cautious to speak out in class to express themselves and participate in classroom dialogue. Learners as a whole will reach the unreachable by globally connecting with other peers around the world.

Here are some tips on using Twitter in the classroom:

  •  Never use your personal account as your professional account, to avoid any privacy breaches.
  • Twitter could be used as a communication channel between teachers and students for announcement on quizzes, homework, projects or useful links.
  • Hashtag could be of a great benefit for students as for teachers. The thread will help them to communicate doubts, suggestions, or start a discussion. You can set a hashtag by adding it to a post and informing your student to add it to related posts.
  • Your students could get engaged in cultural and educational highlights related to their subject area
  • Create Twitter accounts for any school projects, let students be engaged in presenting and communicating their thoughts about progress of the project globally.
  • Inter-classes discussion about a certain topic could be started using Twitter within the same school or in other schools.
  • Discuss your plans for Twitter with school administration first, look if they have any policy with this regard to be shared with students and parents
  • School need to have parents informed about any social media plans. Benefits for learning and terms of use should be discussed and presented to them.
  • Using social media in class room shouldn’t be for socializing. It should be a medium that facilitates the task in hand

What about the Dark sides of Twitterverse?

Bully and trolling often happens in social media however, it is our job as teachers to educate students about features and drawbacks of using it and how to utilize it to their best. Modeling the proper use of social media at class, will help getting students aware of how to use it positively and safely. We can spread the awareness by having students discussing social media concerns using social media itself. This will have them as active contributors to their community. They will feel capable of containing challenges around them. Consequently this will raise their self-esteem by getting them noticed and having a voice.

Social media impact or threats can’t be stopped by blocking it in schools. It’s better to bring the battle in. If school and educators are not present in social medial then this means that someone else is writing their social media profile by promoting opposite news opinions and practices. Blocking it in school would only mean one thing that it will definitely find another path to flow in.

Social Media is here to stay, whether we like or not. Taming it will bring its pros to front to outweigh its cons. Again, we are not alone in Twitterverse. Let’s hold our self accountable to protect students race in this expansive social media globe and bring the best for them and for us.

Copyright 2015 Bashaer M. Al Kilani

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