The Hashtag through a teacher’s lens (and the power of twitter)

It is important for educators to use twitter to establish a positive digital footprint for themselves and to directly model this for their students. Twitter can be repurposed for educational use. I’ve been able to connect with many different people and find out about professional development sessions. I can also follow the back feeds of conferences that I am unable to attend. Why do I do this? I want to better my practice, as a teacher. In a sense, the hashtags I follow give me professional development. By being active on Twitter, I am becoming a part of the world’s bigger conversation. Twitter is an organic discussion that is short, simple, and to the point.

An affordance of Twitter is the brevity of having on 140 characters to get your point across (Harari, 2011). People are more apt to read more and obtain more information because of the succinct manner of these messages. I’ve created a ThingLink to bring attention to the brevity of Twitter. In 140 characters or less, I can find out the essentials of who, what, and where. If I wanted to seek more, I can use that key information to conduct a deeper search. The point is, short messages spread information faster.

What is a hashtag?

A hashtags identifies messages that are related to a specific topic.

In order to fully repurpose twitter for education, hashtags need to be informational rather than comical. Personally, I use Twitter as a tool for note taking to remember experiences and things I’ve learned. I can revisit the hashtag afterwards and follow up. The global conversation surrounding a hashtag may continue after that said event is over with. Sharing ideas and collaborating with other educators is extremely powerful and valuable.

While studying abroad in Ireland with Michigan State University’s MAET program, I was able to show my colleagues the power of Twitter and expanding your personal learning network (PLN). Michael Medvinsky (@mwmedvinsky) is in my PLN. I connected with him at #edcampou during a session on #AR (augmented reality). Come to find out, he used to teach music at the school I was currently working at. Small world, right? So the connection became stronger and we connected at other professional development sessions. Sitting in class in Ireland one day, I had tagged Michael in a tweet regarding #AR. This sparked a conversation that evolved into the maker movement, #makeymakey, the power of Twitter, using Twitter as an educator, etc. Michael became curious about what #MAETy1 was all about (the hashtag for masters in educational technology year 1 students). He continued to share resources and follow the hashtag. We collaborated, communicated, and shared from Ireland to Michigan in an instant. This was a completely authentic example of what Twitter can do.

The hashtag is extremely powerful especially to teacher because if you were to use this with your class you could create a unique classroom hashtag. You can teach students how to be a full participant in a digital world. Students can learn how to be a part of a discussion by retweeting, favoriting, and replying in a meaningful manner. This will also help your students establish positive digital footprints for themselves. In the classroom, students can connect with each other and other students around the world. This transfers to their everyday life because Twitter is accessible to them 24/7. Your students could interact with authors, experts, organizations, and become politically active. As a teacher, you can communicate with your students and families through a digital medium. The connection doesn’t end when your students leave you. You can be a connected mentor to them through the rest of their learning.

Below you will find a handful of hashtags that I followed this past year:

#michEd #kinderchat #5thchat #2guysshow #iste14 #notatiste14 #edcampou #edcampwbwl #edcampnovi #edcampdetroit #colchat #youmatter #satchat #edchatie #podstock14 #makered #AR

Resources:

Harari, H. (2011). Harmful on-liners, an ocean of facts and rewired minds. In J. Brockman (Ed.), Is the Internet changing the way you think?  Retrieved from http://edge.org/response-detail/10611

 

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