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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter

As I've mentioned numerous times in the past (this marks the 35th time I've written about Twitter), not a day goes by that I don't learn something from my network of Twitter contacts. My network now includes 3000+ followers and I'm also following 2900+ Twitter users. As the size of my network increases so to do my learning opportunities increase. Having a Twitter network is a great way to learn about new resources for teaching. A Twitter network is also a great place to exchange ideas about teaching. If you're not familiar with how Twitter works, this short video from Common Craft offers a great explanation. If you're a Twitter user looking to expand your network the following are seven ways to find other teachers on Twitter.

1. Twitter 4 Teachers wiki. The Twitter 4 Teachers PB Wiki was started by ed tech specialist Gina Hartman. This wiki is organized content teaching area so that visitors can connect with Twitter users who teach the same subject(s).

2. Educators on Twitter is a Google Docs Spreadsheet started by Liz B. Davis. The list is constantly growing as new additions are added almost daily.

3. Twitter for Teachers is a wiki started by Rodd Lucier with the purpose of educating teachers about the use of Twitter as an educational tool and as a professional development tool. You may want to check out who the contributors to the wiki are and follow them. Rodd has also produced a great video demonstrating how to use Twitter, Delicious, and Google Reader to find more Twitter users of interest to you.

4. Jane Hart, founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, has compiled a list of nearly 800 educators on Twitter. Each entry is accompanied by a short summary about the Twitter user.

5. Twitter search. Located at the bottom of the Twitter page is a search link. Try searching for key words commonly used in educational technology. Then follow the Twitter users who are writing messages containing those key terms.

6. Look at who others follow and who others send "@" messages to. One of the ways that I've built up my network is to look at who the "popular" people follow and follow them. If someone you currently follow sends an "@" reply that appears in your Twitter stream, check out who that "@" message was sent to. Chances are good that the recipient of that message is also interested in the same topics you're interested in.

7. Start engaging conversations. There are a couple of ways to do this, you start a conversation around a resource that you've discovered. Another way to start a conversation is to pose a question or problem that you would like help solving. People are generally willing to offer feedback. If someone sends you an "@" message try to acknowledge it (you may not always be able to do this because of time lapse) people seem to appreciate acknowledgement.

One last place to start finding other teachers on Twitter is to check out my blog post 10 Teachers to Follow on Twitter.

If you have additional suggestions about ways to connect with other teachers on Twitter or you would like to promote your own Twitter account, please leave a comment.

Update:
Shortly after this post went live Twitter changed their UI just a bit. The search box is now at the top of the screen and you can now see "trends" based on the most popular words and tags of the moment.

Update #2:
Two weeks after writing this blog post, We Follow was launched. We Follow makes it very easy to find other teachers and educators on Twitter. You can read more about We Follow here.

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