Monday, April 23, 2012

Welcome to our twitter unworkshop

A warm welcome to our newbie potential edutwits!!

Twitter will be the best investment that you will ever make in your professional development pathway! There are so many things that yo can do with twitter for education!!

If you want to know why you should be striving to be an edutwit, see our growing list of blogposts and articles on WHY you should use twitter.....

"Daily" Activities

Spend 25-20 minutes getting to grip with the essentials of being a good edutwit...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day 6: What are hashtags?

<—Back to main twitter un-workshop page

Hashtags (#) are those seemingly inconspicuous symbols in front of (sometimes nonsensical) words that you find included in some tweets. Right from the start of this unworkshop we have asked you to include the hashtag #ict4champions in all of your tweets relating to this workshop. If you want to make sure that we know that you are a South African teacher or if you want other South African teachers to see your tweet, you can include the hashtag #sateachers

Hashtags are basically keywords that you can search for on twitter which unites people around a topic, discussion , event or trend. They appear as linked keywords in a tweet and if you click on them or search for them at the top of your twitter window,  you will see all tweets with that specific hashtag in it.

Event or training hashtags
By inserting the hashtag #ict4champions (our training event) into your tweet, you become part of the unworkshop stream and we can track everybody who are participating or mentoring within this unworkshop. If you do not include this hashtag we will not see your tweets unless we are already following you, so it is important to always include it. During conferences participants are given a hashtag to use which then enable them to have discussions with one another or create searchable summaries while the conference is on. The hashtag makes  it possible for others, not at the conference, to follow what is happening and to "hear" through the tweets of the particpants what is being said at the event. For instance, next week the Global Education Conference is happening online, it is free, it is big and you can follow all the learning excitement by searching for the hashtag #GlobalEd11. People are already starting to share stuff around the conference. We also have a local edtech conference here in South Africa called #edtechconf which has ongoing discussions before, during and after the face to face conferences.

How do you save a hashtag?

If you need to get to a hashtag stream quickly and often, you can save it as a search. You do this by clicking on a hashtag in a tweet or searching for it. Once you see the hashtag results you can click on the "Save this search" button. To get to your saved search again go to Home-->Searches and click on your saved search. Some educational hashtags to follow: There are a few generic hashtags that track educational topics for you. For instance, we have a weekly educational (#edchat) discussion where we vote on a topic for the week and then talk about it on a global level.  

We also have a weekly local (South African) edu-chat uisng the hashtag #edchatsa. For more information and to vote for our weekly topic, see

Some lists of educational hashtags:
  Here is a little video for you to watch:

Today's activities:
  • Consult this list of educational hashtags and save 3 hashtags of topics that you would like to follow on an ongoing basis (remember to make #ict4champions 1 of your saved hashtags)
  • Send 3 tweets on any topic and include the hashtags #ict4champions and #day6
  • Answer this question in a tweet: How can I use hashtags in my classroom? Remember to include the hashtag #ict4champions!
If you have created 4 tweets and have saved 3 hashtags as searches, you have completed the activity for today!

Additional reading:

  <—Back to main twitter un-worksho page

Monday, March 5, 2012

Day5: How do you have discussions in twitter?

<—Back to main twitter un-workshop page    

One of the main attractions about twitter is the informal educational discussions that can flare up! Sometimes it starts with an innocent question or it can be sparked by a topical issue that someone is experiencing. Sometimes we try to orchestrate a topic of discussion (this could be a good thing to do in a classroom situation).

Most of the time, however, it happens organically as I found this morning when I was just about to conjure up a topic for  discussion for our unworkshop! @Lohann asked the question:  How do you overcome restrictions on the use of cellphones in schools?" Which of course got me going (and please get stuck into this discussion as well, using the context that you find ourself in). This is a relevant barrier if we are thinking of implementing twitter as a classroom tool and I would love to hear what the situation is in classrooms around our country and globally!

How do you become part of a twitter discussion?
To be part of a discussion, or to just talk to someone, you will need to REPLY to the tweet that inspires you to become involved. You do this by hovering your cursor over the tweet, which will then display the reply option below the tweet (see picture above). If you click on this, it will open a little window with the person's name to who you want to reply, already inserted. You will notice that it has @thepersonsname inserted. You can now just type in your reply.

To reply to someone specific, you use the @ symbol. This has to be placed directly in front of their twitter name. E.g if you want to talk to me, you will start your tweet with @maggiev. If you put @ maggiev, I will not see your tweet directed at me due to the space between the @ and maggiev. You will find the discussion directed at you under the Connect link--> Mentions. 

You must remember to check your Mentions REGULARLY and reply to discussions. Ignoring the Mentions tab means that you are in effect ignoring people talking to you!


Your Connect link does not only include reply's to your discussions, it also shows what people are saying about you! The Interactions tab will show you your mentions as well as your tweets that has been retweeted by others (in other words passing on one of your tweets) and who has started t follow you.

It is a good habit to thank them for retweeting what you have said and that in itself can lead to further discussions about what you have tweeted and have the added effect of expanding your network further.

Even if you do not follow your timeline's tweets, you should always keep an eye on the Connect stream. I have set up my mobile phone in such a way that it gives a beep similar to my SMS sound every time a receive a "Mention". Twitter Replies can therefore substitute using sms's which is far more expensive, to contact people and have discussions with them! As we have pointed out in day 4 you will be able to read twitter discussions in a chronological  way by clicking on the discussion call-out icon to the right of a tweet. The discussion will show up on the right of your twitter page. Classroom, workshop or event discussions  Apart from informal discussions, we can group discussions together by using hashtags (e.g ict4champions) . We will discuss hashtags in more detail tomorrow, but I just need to mention how important it is to keep track of discussions taking place in the same space (not necessarily a physical space). By inserting a hashtag you can keep track of various little discussions around the same topic or interest. In the case of this unworkshop we are using #ict4champions to bring everything together. So if you do not insert this tag and I am not following you, I will miss out on what you are saying. Replying to other people's tweets is a good way to build learning relationships. By talking to others, they will get to know you and may even start following you! So in summary:
  • Look at your Mentions to see if someone is talking to you. (Home-->Mentions)
  • Hover over tweet--> click on Reply to answer (you can reply to anyone' s tweet in your main timeline stream as well)
  • Type in your reply in presented window next to the @theotherpersonsname
  • Dont forget to add #ict4champions in your tweet before you send it
Activity for today: 
  • Respond to the question posed by @lohann  (click on the question to remind you what she has asked)
  • Check your timeline and reply to anyone of the tweets that interest you. (Home-->timeline)
  • Check the #ict4champions stream and reply to any of the tweets there.
  • Don't forget to add #ict4champions  to every one of your tweets so that we can track you!
Previous days:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 4: How do you read your twitter streams?

<—Back to main twitter un-workshop page

From my face 2 face twitter workshops I have learned that it is the simple things that gets us down when using new tools. So today we will look at how you read your twitter streams. There are many tools that we can use to make reading easier and to read our twitter streams more effectively, but for now we will look at how twitter intended for us to interact with everything that is being said and shared. 
Your main stream (timeline) 
Everything happens in your main twitter stream which can be found by clicking on Home-->Timeline in twitter . Here you will see everything everybody who you are following is saying in reverse chronological order. If you have chosen who you follow carefully (see day 3), there will be some interesting titbits to be consumed here! 
I am often asked if it is not too much and my answer is.... of course it is! Are there any boundaries to the amount of learning out there?  Twitter makes it possible to consume it all in little titbit sizes. It is like e-mail or information on steroids, except that you can choose to ignore it, and you do not need to reply to or pass on everything that appears in your stream. I can scan through my twitter stream quickly and only process the tweets that "speaks" to me. In this process I become a filter of knowledge for those who chose to follow me. Due to the fact that the stream "flows past" in reverse chronological order, you will find that discussions are fragmented with someone answering a questioned that has gone some time before. This can make conversations seem disjointed and out of context. But you don't have to worry- if you want to follow an interesting discussion between twits (can I call us twits?), you can look for the little discussion icon in the corner of the relevant tweet which will then show you the discussion in chronological order on the right hand side.
You will notice some icons in tweets that will guide you to what embedded content the tweet has (video, resource link, photograph) Just look to the right of the tweet.
When scanning through your tweet timeline you will notice that the people you are following can be doing a number of things:  

  • They can ask questions- it is a great idea to respond to questions as it is a good way to build learning relationships. We will look at how you can respond tomorrow.
  • They can share resource links. By clicking on the resource link, you will be taken to the resource, e.g. a webpage or a document (which will open in the relevant programme) or a video. You will get some indication of what kind of resource it is by checking the icon to the right of the tweet.
  • They can have discussions with someone else- you will see the twits who are part of the discussion's names in the tweet (e.g. @bhallowes @clarkformaths). As this is all happening out in the open, you can lurk and learn from whatever is being discussed. An effective way to learn.
  • They can summarise what is happening at an event (or in a classroom). This happen often when people attend conferences and workshops and it allows you to become part of whatever is happening at the event. You can chirp in  (like a tweetie bird ;-) )  any time and be part of the event - how cool is that?
  • They can share information, quotes, events.
All you have to do is keep an eye on your timeline stream to see what is happening in the edu-sphere out there. Please do not become obsessive about it! Good news and resources will be taken out of the stream by someone and put back just when you are reading your stream! We will look at good ways to screen for good stuff more effectively in a later day. I read my twitter stream mostly on my phone when I experience "dead time", like when I am sitting on the loo (sorry for the mental picture) or standing in a que. I also make time to read my tweets in the morning before I start working and before I stop working at night.

Activity: (Don't forget to add #ict4champions to your tweets- type it in anywhere)
  • Read your main tweet stream and identify the different kinds of stuff being shared. Send a tweet about what is mostly being shared. 
  • Identify some of the conversations and tell us about it by sending a second tweet.
  • Ask a question (anything will do) 
<--Back to day 3:  Who follows who: The following dilemma
<--Back to Workshop activities
On to day 5--> How do you have discussions in twitter?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Day 3: Who follows who: The following dilemma

<—Back to main twitter un-workshop page

When I joined twitter way back I  had an issue with this "following" story. I was completely freaked out when the first stranger started following me on twitter. This resulted in me not going near twitter for a few months until a mentor from Australia @bronst gave me a list of a few people to follow in my subject area. That is when  it all started making sense to me! I could not believe how much I can learn from expert "strangers" in 140 characters at a time!

Basically, a great deal of the value of twitter comes down to who you follow!!! If you follow GREAT MINDS and specialists in your field/subject area/hobbie, you will learn along with them. You will see what they read, you will be the first to know what they write and this will keep you on the cutting edge of your personal professional development pathway. This means that every time you follow someone you have to ask yourself the following 2 questions:
  • Is this person authentic? (check their Bio and website or blog: you will find this by clicking on their name in a tweet and twitter also makes some suggestions based on who you follow already and your interests)
  • Can you learn from them? This can also depend on if you share the same interests (bullet 1), but a good way to see if you will be able to learn from and with them, is to check their tweets. Do they talk about interesting stuff or do they talk about what they are having for breakfast? Do they share great articles and resources? Do they respond to others?
How do I follow someone? 
Twitter makes it very easy for us to follow people. You will notice follow buttons or links everywhere on your twitter page. After considering the top two bullet points, just click on the follow button under their profile. The moment you start following someone, their tweets will show up in your personal stream (Home-->Timeline). Should I follow my students? As a rule I do not advise teachers to follow your students unless bullet 2 above applies or if you are interested in following your students progress. I would rather add them to a student list (which we will deal with later) or interact with them using a hashtag (will also be dealt with later) Should I follow everybody who follows me? Personally, I stick to my two bullets above. From time to time I look through my followers, check my 2 bullet criteria and then decide if I want to follow or not. You can click on your list of followers (to the top right of your Home/Profile page) to see who are following you. The problem with following too many people is that your timeline stream gets cluttered with irrelevant information and comments. So, from time to time I even unfollow people who do not contribute to my professional development. I think I will ask my network this question:

Why would people want to follow me and what can they see?
People will follow you if your 2 bullets are in place (see above). From your Bio they can see that you have a common interest and if you tweet responsibly, share resources, respond to questions and act as a filter for your followers, they would like to follow you. When they follow you, every tweet that you create will appear in their timeline (Home --> timeline). Activities for day 3: Start building your personal learning network
  • Here are some of my lists that you can go and peruse and decide who on the list you want to follow: Sateachers ( teachers in South Africa who twitter- if are a South African teacher and want to be added to the list, please send a tweet with your school name, town, subject and #sateachers in it and I will add you to my list) My edtech favourites: People who share wonderful links to tools and educational resources I will ask  my network to share their lists as well.
  • Go to the unworkshop stream by clicking here or searching in for #ict4champions and follow everybody who are part of the stream.
  • Check your timeline stream (Home-->Timeline) at least 3 times a day
  • Send 3 tweets responding to the activities that you had to do and remember to put #ict4champions in your tweet in order for us to see it in our workshop stream.
See you in the twitter verse! if you would like to comment below on how this un-workshop is going or want to voluntweer to organise a day's activity also let me know below :-)

 <—Back to main twitter un-workshop page   | Move on to #Day4: How do you read your twitter streams

     My time for working and supporting on this workshop  is sponsored by Casio SA. Thank you for making this unworkshop possible!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Day2: The importance of your twitter profile

<—Back to main twitter un-workshop page

One of the most important things you have to do is to create a professional twitter profile if you want to use your twitter for teaching and learning. When you join twitter you are allocated an egghead. I don't follow eggheads. I follow people who I can learn from and who share valuable learning resources with me. You will, during the course of this un-workshop, get to follow amazing people. Your first introduction to them is their profile. Creating  a good profile will tell others what you are about, what you like and where you "teach",  information that will help them to make up their minds if they have common ground with you. We will look at the concept of "following" in more detail tomorrow, but first we need to get your profile up to date and ready for following!! You will find your profile information by going to Settings-->Profile

For todays activity, go and revise your profile and make sure that it is up to date, relevant and enhance your professional image as an educator....
  • If you are an old "edu-twit" revise your twitter profile and see if it is still relevant to where you are at at the moment.
  • Ask yourself- Will the people that I want to learn from or my students follow me to learn from me?
  • Have I inserted an up to date website  or blog address for further information?
  • Does my Bio state clearly what my interests are so that only people with similar interests would like to follow me?
  • Look at some of the bios of the following people and decide if you would like to follow them: @ict_educator ; @peterdelisle; @rngreener2 ; @artpreston; @clarkformaths ; @Bhallowes
<---back to day one: Getting started or --->Day 3: Who follows Who: the following dilemma  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day 1: Getting started and getting others started

<---Back to main twitter un-workshop activity page

Welcome to day 1 of our twitter un-workshop!! The first thing to do is to create a twitter account. If you are an experienced teacher twit already, please get as many teachers around you to join in and  help them to feel at home.  Feel free to download the "Getting started" tutorial and pass it on to everybody.

Our hashtag for the workshop is #edutwits. You will learn more about hashtags as we go along.  You can follow the workshop twitter stream by searching for #edutwits in the search window at the top of your twitter browser page ( or click here to go straight to it.

In your first tweet (the 140 character status update) please put your school, your subject, your town, your country and the hashtag #ict4champions If you are not a teacher, you are most welcome to lurk with us and support our teachers on this learning pathway!!
 Well done! If you have:
  • Downloaded and worked through the tutorial
  • Registered for a twitter account
  • Send a tweet with your school, town, country, subject, and the hashtag #ict4champions
  • Got other teachers to join and do the same.....
then..... you have completed day 1 successfully. Does anyone want to add anything? Tweet it!!!!!!! #edutwits

 <---Back to twitter unworkshop main page Go to Day2: The importance of your twitter profile -->