• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!



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Twitter is an important part of my PLN (Personal Learning Network.) I learn so much from people I "follow." Twitter is a microblogging service you can use to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent, short (140 characters or less) answers to one simple question: "What are you doing?"


What's the point of Twitter? Why should educators get involved? What difference does using Twitter make? Blogger Laura Doggett shares "Nine Great Reasons Why Teachers Should Use Twitter."


This video, created by Common Craft, is a simple explanation of the concept behind Twitter:


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History of Twitter

For a pictorial history of Twitter as of July 2009, check out this graphic created by Manolith




Who's Using Twitter and How? 

Schools (Green Bay, Denmark) teachers (Dena Brudecki, Kathy Schrock) educational leaders (Will Richardson, Tony Vincent,) organizations (WEMTA, CESA 7) celebrities (Ashton Kutcher -#1 on Twitter and #2 Ellen Degeneres)  government representatives (Barack Obama, Russ Feingold) businesses (CBS News, Green Bay Packers,) and individuals are using Twitter as a way to communicate to followers what's important to them. "Tweets" (the messages that Twitter users post) can be anything from the mundane ("I'm sitting on the patio.") to the miraculous ("New baby just born") and everything in between, even legal notices.


Even the courts are using Twitter! On Oct. 1st, Britain's High Court delivered what is believed to be "the first-ever injunction served via Twitter. An anonymous Twitter use created a spoof account of a lawyer. The court sent a legal cease and desist message via Twitter telling the him/her to stop posting, remove all earlier posts and identify themselves to the court. The move is expected to set a precedent for people seeking to deal with anonymous abuse on the Internet. 


How do tools like Twitter might fit into learning environments? Dr. Monica Rankin, Professor of History at the School of Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas, wanted to reach more students and involve more people in class discussions both in and out of the classroom. She had heard of Twitter... She collaborated with the UT Dallas, Arts and Technology - Emerging Media and Communications (EMAC) faculty to create this experiment. This video is absolutely worth a look. (posted by Ian Jukes)


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If you decide to use Twitter in your classroom, here's a great rubric created by UW-Stout online instructor Karen Franker.


It's not just colleges that are using Twitter. High schoolers at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, Minn. are being engaged in the classroom in a whole new way. By using social media tools and giving them access to the Internet, students are able to learn in different ways. Having discussions about their English class online has increased their level of attention and engagement in their studies.
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Getting Started:


Here's a 4 minute video from Twitter that will take you step by step to create an account



Sue, from http://sueandsteveshow.com helps you get up and running on Twitter, with a good, basic video tutorial that takes the steps a little more slowly. (8 minutes)


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Creating your Twitter name and profile doesn't need to be difficult. Check out 7 Tips for the Perfect Twitter Profile.


Who should I follow and how do I find them?

Deciding who to follow and then finding tweeple (Twitter people) can be quite a challenge. Will everyone you choose to follow be of value to you? Not always, as this great comic created by Agent-X (aka Scott Hampson) so aptly illustrates.

(Thanks to Scott for granting me permission to use.)



Here are some other ways that you can find some colleagues you may want to follow:

Start with someone you know who is on Twitter and check out who they're following, then check out who they are following.


Twitter4Teachers is a wiki that was created to help educators easily find other educators on Twitter that teach in the same content area.


WeFollow is an attempt for Twitter users to find twitter people (tweeple) that share similar interests. The site features the top Twitter tags, shows you how many followers each has and allows you to search for specific tags. Lots of potential!


For a list of history teachers created by a history teacher in the UK, check out Teachers to Follow on Twitter

or check out Follow These Teachers 


Lisa Thumann, the Senior Specialist in Technology Education with the Center for Mathematics, Science and Computer Education at Rutgers University in New Jersey, shares some great tips on Using the Power of Twitter to build online learning.


Vicki "Cool Cat Teacher" Davis has a nice batch of Twitter lists (including authors!) She also has some great advice - "don't judge twitter until you follow at least 50 people." And remember, if you don't choose the right ones at first, you can always choose to "unfollow" them!



Just Tweet It -Touts itself as THE directory for Twitter Users. Check the full directory for "teachers" (or others you may find interesting!)



Building a good Twitter community takes time! As George Angus, of TumbleMoose.com ( says in his article Patience-A True Twitter Virtue:

"Slow and steady wins the race

And it wins every time. You have to ask yourself, “Am I in this for short term gains or for building a community?” Common wisdom says if you want to be successful, focus on sticking with your game for the long term. Here are some tips for the slow approach:

  • A strong community is built on a solid foundation. Determine your goals. What do you hope to gain from your Twitter experience? When you are clear on what you want you can then develop a strategy for moving forward.
  • Start with people who are already in your community. Follow the folks who you already know and interact with through your blog or web site.
  • When you are considering a follow, visit the profile. Are your interests similar? Do they have a web site you can visit? What do their recent tweets look like? You want a community of like minded folks as much as possible. With that said, don’t be afraid to take a chance now and then, especially if their profile speaks to you for some reason.
  • Don’t worry so much about the numbers. The idea here is to have meaningful interaction. It’s not a race to see who can have the most followers.
  • Your community will grow. Let things move at their natural pace. Forcing the experience will reduce the effectiveness.
  • Treat your community well. Pay attention to what folks are doing and saying. When you are able, answer questions that are asked. If you find something helpful, tweet it for your community. It’s not always about business, so try now and again to keep it real with a “how is everything going?” tweet. An engaged community is a healthy community. It’s easier to have an engaged community when the focus is on the people – not the numbers.

Following these tips will lead to a more satisfying experience for you and your followers. By taking the focus off of numbers and putting it back on the people, you will find that your community will grow at a healthy pace."


Twitter as a Personal Learning Network is a great blog post by olafelch (Olaf Elch) with good tips for using Twitter as a tool to help you learn from other teachers. "It used to be called 'advice from friends and colleagues.' But in the era of social media the word friend has taken on a new meaning." 


Understanding the Language of Twitter

25 Ways to Teach with Twitter is an  informative article by Sonja Cole that will help you understand some of the Twitter shorthand. She also shares 25 ways that teachers can use Twitter to ask for help, get lesson plan ideas, book and professional resource recommendations, connect with other professionals, and even host an online book club.


For more info on Twitter language shorthand, check out Twitter Dictionary .


Related to Twitter shorthand, here are 6 tips for Using the @ Sign in Twitter


Another popular Twitter shortcut, the # (Hashtag) is explained in detail in

HOW TO: Get the most out of Twitter #Hashtags


Naomi Harm, a colleague and National Intel Senior Trainer as well as an International Educational Technology Consultant shared a two page Twitter Cheat Sheet that you can view online or download for future reference



More Twitter Tools and Resources

  • Need to make those long URL's shorter? The most popular tools these days are Bit.ly and Ow.ly (upload images - supported formats (.jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .png) Max. 4MB; Files - supported formats (.doc, .pdf, .mp3, View All) Max. 10MB; Video - Coming Soon.

  • Want to shorten mulitple URL's into one? Check out Fur.ly
  •  Have lots of Twitter users to add all at once and want an easy way to do it? Check out this Mass Twitter Script option. 
  • Want to see how your Twitter profile is doing? Check out Twitter Counter 
  • An easy way to organize your Tweeple and their Tweets on your desktop is the easy to use tool Tweetdeck. 
  • Share your pictures on Twitter by using Twitpic. You can post pictures to TwitPic from your phone, their API (application programming interface) or through the site itself. If you have a Twitter account then you already have a Twitpic account, just login to Twitpic with your Twitter username and password and you are all set.
  • Twitter Fan Wiki-a whole wiki full of twitter tools and apps! Sorted by platform and what they will do.
  • Twitter Reading List posted by the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies
  • Use Twitter widgets to connect twitter to Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, Typepad or another blog
  • Follow Twitter tips on Twitter to get tips, tools and news
  • Check my Twitter bookmarks on Delicious--I add new items regularly!
  • Sent in an e-newsletter from UW-Stout--some great info!
  • TweetChat allows you to set up a separate chatroom for your twitter topic. Saves you the hassle of putting in hashtags (#) after each post you make--does it automatically for you. "TweetChat helps put your blinders on to the Twitter-sphere while you monitor and chat about one topic."


Third Party Twitter clients (for desktop and mobile devices)

NOTE: You don't have to have one of these to use Twitter on a mobile phone--just text messages (SMS) to 40404. And, you can also choose to have tweets sent to you via SMS. Remember! Text messaging charges will apply!


Here are some of the most popular ways to post and respond to Tweets (besides doing it from your desktop/laptop on the Web, which is still the number one way people use Twitter.) Which one you use is entirely up to you--I recommend trying out a few and seeing which ones best fit your needs.


  • Tweetdeck (Available for desktop, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android devices) This has been my tool of choice for my desktop and mobile devices! TweetDeck shows you everything you want to see at once--tweets from those you follow, your tweets, "mentions," groups and more, in a slick nicely organized format. The newest versions allow you to view and post to multiple social networking accounts including Twitter, FaceBook, FourSquare and GoogleBuzz. Tweetdeck also has a built-in, very handy URL shortener. All versions of Tweetdeck are totally free! (And there are no ads! How do they do that??!)


  • Hootsuite (Available for desk/laptop as well as iPhone,  Android, and BlackBerry. Support for iPad is in the works.) If you have multiple social network accounts and want an easy to use way to monitor and post to them all in one place, then this is a tool you may want to consider. Also useful if you have a team of folks you're working with and with whom you want to stay in touch. Hootsuite connects Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn, MySpace, PingFM, WordPress and FourSquare all on one "dashboard" with one user name and password, so one post can be sent to multiple social networks. Includes a URL shortener. Another nice feature--Hootsuite allows you to schedule your posts in advance. 


          Basic Hootsuite is free and, although limited, will work well for most educational users. The "Pro" account option is $5.99/month.


  • ÜberTwitter for the BlackBerry line of mobile phones. (I don't own a BlackBerry, so have no experience with this tool)

From their website: "We are very excited about the opportunity to provide BlackBerry users with a full featured Twitter client which includes:

    • Integrated ability to upload pictures to a site dedicated to serving ÜberTwitter users
    • Ability to optionally update your Google Talk status with your last tweet, making your tweets reach a wider audience than just people following you on Twitter
    • Automatically update your location based on the cell tower information provided by your phone, no GPS hardware required, click here for an example
    • Send videos embedded in your tweet
    • See everyone who is tweeting near you"

I believe that a basic version is free, but does have ads. They also offer a simple $4.99 USD subscription which gives you:

    • Unlimited upgrades for one year
    • No advertisements forever on any of the versions released during the subscription year
    • At the end of one year you will not be required to upgrade nor purchase a new subscription.


Strictly for tweeting--doesn't link you to multiple social networking sites, but a free app available through the iTunes Store. "Discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world with the official Twitter for iPhone app. Supports realtime search, Top Tweets, trending topics and maps show whats happening now everywhere and nearby. Tweet, send DMs (Direct Messages,) share photos, videos and links to your friends and the world. Don't have an account? Just sign up from the app!" I have used this app and it works well enough.     


  • Twidroyd (for Android phones) Info below is from their website. Only supports tweeting--does not link you to multiple social networks. (I don't own an Android phone so have no experience with this app.) From their website:

"Tweet like a Pro

Twidroyd is a fully featured twitter client, including postings, mentions, direct messages with threaded view, integrated search, list viewing, url shortening, geo-location support, multi-language interface, background notifications and more.


Turning your device into landscape mode automatically opens the LivePreview mode, which displays linked web pages and media right alongside the tweet. no need to open a browser and toggle between windows to fully engage in the content. reading your tweets suddenly becomes far more efficient – and fun!

Integrated Experience

twidroyd has native bit.ly support for url shortening and fully integrates twitlonger for tweets containing more than 140 characters and plixi, for embedding photos within tweets. through services like twitpic, photos will appear right in your tweet stream."


Need more help using Twitter? Their help and goodies pages are great! 


Ideas and Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom

An article titled Tweacher(n): The Twitter Enhanced Teacher, written by Adrienne Matteson and published in School Library Journal discusses four fun ways to use Twitter with your students.



The Humorous Side of Twitter

The World According to Twitter by David Pogue ($9.99 on Amazon.com)


New York Times technology columnist David Pogue has tapped into the brilliance of his half-million followers on Twitter by posting a different, thought-provoking question every night. The questions ranged from the earnest (“What’s your greatest regret?”) to the creative (“Make up a concept for a doomed TV show”) to the curious (“What’s your great idea to improve the cell phone?”). Out of 25,000 tweets, Pogue has gathered the very best 2,524 into this irresistible, clever, laugh-out-loud funny book. The World According to Twitter is truly a grand social networking experiment, in which thousands of voices have come together to produce a unique and wonderful record of shared human experience.


The new TV sitcom, "$#*! my Dad Says" is based on a guy's Twitter posts about the real things his dad was saying. (Not getting very good ratings, though!)



Comments (2)

Matt Piper said

at 10:15 pm on Oct 24, 2010

Wow, so much ado about a lot

Roxann Nys said

at 10:38 pm on Oct 25, 2010

Very true, Matt. Twitter is probably the most important part of my personal learning network. I gain so much info from those I follow that it's hard to keep up!

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