How I Use Twitter Professionally – Version 4

Two and a half years ago I wrote How I Use Twitter Professionally, then revised it with How I Use Twitter Professionally – Updated! and How I Use Twitter Professionally – Updated Again!

I guess we’ll make it an annual thing:

My tweets are public.

I’m trying to encourage conversation and collaboration, so my tweets are globally accessible. This also means I don’t make statements I wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone reading – my family, my students, my employer….

I don’t follow a lot of people.

I currently follow 370 people, of whom about 250 are actively tweeting (let’s say at least weekly). Some of these aren’t related to education; for example, I follow The LEGO Group (@LEGO_Group) and authors John Scalzi (@scalzi) and Marko Kloos (@markokloos – he has a new book out today!).

I can’t read all of the stuff they tweet. I’m relying on my tweeps to retweet the really good stuff so I have a better chance of seeing it, or to mention me if it’s something they think I ought to notice.

I accept anyone as a follower, pretty much.

Except for a few obvious accounts, I let anyone follow me. Since my tweets are public, anyone can read them (even without a Twitter account), so letting people follow me doesn’t reveal anything extra. Plus, it’s easier when you don’t have to approve people.

I don’t follow back as a courtesy.

Before I decide to follow someone, I take a look at their tweet history. Is their stream of tweets going to enhance my experience? Will I learn from them? Or will I only learn what they had for breakfast?

I’m a fan of some personal stuff on Twitter, but if you post 300 times a day just to talk without conversing, I don’t need to see it. It’s not about you, it’s just that your use of Twitter doesn’t fit with mine. I think your lifestyle on Twitter should be like the Law of Two Feet: if it’s not working for you, move on.

I don’t accept Direct Messages (DMs) from people I don’t follow.

This cuts down on the spam. Now it’s just mentions, and there aren’t too many of those. This is a good idea for anyone, so I thought I’d list it here.

I also don’t follow people who I don’t want to DM me. That especially includes students. I have my school email for that kind of communication.

I follow hashtags for a while.

I follow #OTRK12 (our annual conference in Mississauga – this week!) and #elADSB (for my Board’s e-Learning teachers). I don’t follow the very busy tags, although I sometimes apply them to my posts (#D2L, #onted, #blendedlearning, #edtech).

I try to follow the people in Northern Ontario. We face many of the same issues, and perhaps we have solutions to help each other. I like that idea.

I don’t cross post to Facebook anymore.

I tweet too much. No one on Facebook wants to read all of that stuff. The handful of FB friends who do are also Twitter users and teachers, so they just go to Twitter to find me. When I write blog posts WordPress will publicize them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, and I’m certain that’s plenty for the FB crowd.

I use Tweetdeck; it rocks.

Chrome has TweetDeck as an app; I like that I can have columns for a variety of things I want to look at. Currently I have my Twitter timeline, my Twitter Interactions, my Twitter Messages (DMs), and columns for a bunch of hashtags and lists I follow.

I say things for myself, and I say things for others.

I tweet things that I want to remember or revisit (great for “note-taking” at a session/workshop/conference). I also tweet things to inform others or start conversations. My tweets (of links and such) aren’t endorsements, but since people sometimes view them that way I try not to share stuff that I’m not at least familiar with.

I talk a lot, but not too much

I try to ask questions and help out when others ask questions. I’m proud to say I am included as an honourary member of the SGDSB educators list because I help out the teachers up there, so I think my contributions are valued.

More importantly, I’m developing relationships with these distant folks, and the growth of my PLN has helped me out in my work as well. It was very exciting last year at OTRK12 to meet people whom I knew only through Twitter, and it was surprising how natural the face-to-face interactions felt. We were already friends. So thanks, tweeps.

If you want to follow me…

I’m @bgrasley. No pressure, of course. Use Twitter however it works best for you, and don’t be upset if other people use it differently!

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How I Use Twitter Professionally – Updated Again!

About a year ago I wrote a blog post called “How I Use Twitter Professionally – Updated!“. Since then I’ve refined or changed my use a bit more, so I thought it was worth refreshing the post again. So, the content below is the same as before, but with current stuff.

My tweets are public.

I’m trying to encourage conversation and collaboration, so my tweets are globally accessible. This also means I don’t make statements I wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone reading – my family, my students, my employer….

I don’t follow a lot of people.

I currently follow 292 people (that’s a big increase in the last year; about doubled), of whom about 200 are actively tweeting (let’s say at least weekly). Some of these aren’t related to education; for example, I follow The LEGO Group (@LEGO_Group).

I can’t read all of the stuff they tweet. I’m relying on my tweeps to retweet the really good stuff so I have a better chance of seeing it, or to mention me if it’s something they think I ought to notice.

I accept anyone as a follower, pretty much.

Except for a few obvious accounts, I let anyone follow me. Since my tweets are public, anyone can read them (even without a Twitter account), so letting people follow me doesn’t reveal anything extra. Plus, it’s easier when you don’t have to approve people.

I don’t follow back as a courtesy.

Before I decide to follow someone, I take a look at their tweet history. Is their stream of tweets going to enhance my experience? Will I learn from them? Or will I only learn what they had for breakfast?

I’m a fan of some personal stuff on Twitter, but if you post 300 times a day just to talk without conversing, I don’t need to see it. It’s not about you, it’s just that your use of Twitter doesn’t fit with mine.

Today I noticed that I have 3 fewer followers than I did a few days ago. Since there were a few new followers recently that means that more than 3 cut me off their list. That’s totally expected, and is actually pretty great. I think your lifestyle on Twitter should be like the Law of Two Feet: if it’s not working for you, move on.

I don’t accept Direct Messages (DMs) from people I don’t follow.

This cuts down on the spam. Now it’s just mentions, and there aren’t too many of those. This is a good idea for anyone, so I thought I’d list it here.

I follow hashtags for a while.

Recently I followed #OTRK12 (our annual conference in Mississauga) and #GAFEsummit. I don’t follow the very busy tags, although I sometimes apply them to my posts (#D2L, #onted, #blendedlearning, #edtech).

I try to follow the people in Northern Ontario. We face many of the same issues, and perhaps we have solutions to help each other. I like that idea.

I don’t cross post to Facebook anymore.

I tweet too much. No one on Facebook wants to read all of that stuff. The handful of FB friends who do are also Twitter users and teachers, so they just go to Twitter to find me. When I write blog posts WordPress will publicize them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, and I’m certain that’s plenty for the FB crowd.

I use Tweetdeck; it rocks.

Chrome has TweetDeck as an app; I like that I can have columns for a variety of things I want to look at. Currently I have my Twitter timeline, my Twitter Interactions, my Twitter Messages (DMs), columns for #edCampSault, #OTRK12, #OSSEMOOC, @timrobinsonj’s eLC list, @MeglioMedia’s Tech Enabled Learning list, @ColleenKR’s SGDSB list, and #niprockart. It’s great.

I say things for myself, and I say things for others.

I tweet things that I want to remember or revisit (great for “note-taking” at a session/workshop/conference). I also tweet things to inform others or start conversations. My tweets (of links and such) aren’t endorsements, but since people sometimes view them that way I try not to share stuff that I’m not at least familiar with.

I talk a lot, but not too much

I try to ask questions and help out when others ask questions. I’m proud to say I am included as an honourary member of the SGDSB educators list because I help out the teachers up there, so I think my contributions are valued.

More importantly, I’m developing relationships with these distant folks, and the growth of my PLN has helped me out in my work as well. It was very exciting recently at OTRK12 to meet people whom I knew only through Twitter, and it was surprising how natural the face-to-face interactions felt. We were already friends. So thanks, tweeps.

If you want to follow me…

I’m @bgrasley. No pressure, of course. Use Twitter however it works best for you!

The 5 Cs of participation in online and social media

The 5 Cs of participation in online and social media: Arrows from Consume to Create to Curate to Consolidate to Collaborate.

The 5 Cs of participation in online and social media

I brought my computer, my iPad, my phone, a notebook, my Kindle, and a physical book. I knew I might not have Internet access. I was planning ahead for a disconnected evening by myself.

So here I am – I finished an audiobook, wrote some [possibly] meaningful blog posts, wrote a very short story, and now write another blog post. Is this how I should spend my time?

I am making a conscious effort to create instead of only consume. I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not, but it sounds good. I recently thought my way through different types of participation, especially in the context of social media, and I came up with the 5 Cs of participation (which someone else has likely articulated already; these are independent thoughts, though): Consume, Create, Curate, Consolidate, Collaborate. I placed them in this order on purpose – increasing level of difficulty and increasing value to the community.

If I simply Consume, I change myself (maybe), but no one else. At least not right away, and not directly.

If I Create, I’m sharing my own thinking with others. That’s good, but probably only if I’ve spent some time Consuming. If my thinking is brilliant and original, this might be more valuable than other forms of participation, but that would mess up my pretty visual.

Curation is very useful for a community – find the gold, and share it back out. Let the junk sink while you carry the good stuff to the surface. This is what retweeting is for. It can be much more useful than Creating – I have to thinking critically and reflectively when I Curate (if I do it well); I can Create a bunch of garbage pretty easily.

Consolidating multiple sources into a new, coherent, greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts product is very useful. I like to think that people do this to some extent whenever they Create, whether they realize it or not – their Creations are informed by what they have Consumed, and they make sense of those ideas, which makes their Creation a weak form of Consolidation. A strong Consolidation is deliberate – seeking out different sources, even conflicting ones, to make sense of them all and construct a new, greater idea.

And Collaboration is the most difficult, most rewarding, and often most useful. In a good Collaboration, members will Consolidate when they Create, and the multiple viewpoints can help to eliminate blindspots and biases.

So those are my 5 Cs. Likely there are more thoughtful, reasoned, research-based models, and I’ve read a little of them. Perhaps this is a Consolidation rather than a Creation. This is the perspective I have right now, and I’ll be happy to adjust it moving forward. That will depend on Conversation, which happens to start with C as well. :)

How I Use Twitter Professionally – Updated!

About six months ago I wrote a blog post called “How I Use Twitter Professionally“. Since then I’ve refined or changed my use a bit, so I thought it was worth refreshing the post. So, the content below is the same as before, with old stuff stricken through and new stuff underlined.

My tweets are public.

I’m trying to encourage conversation and collaboration, so my tweets are globally accessible.

I don’t follow a lot of people.

I currently follow 70 144 people, of whom about 40 100 are actively tweeting (let’s say at least weekly). Some of these aren’t related to education; for example, I follow The LEGO Group (@LEGO_Group).

I can keep up with this: I read every tweet, unless it’s an especially busy day in my face-to-face life.

I can’t read it all anymore. This is easily the biggest change for me. I’m relying on my tweets to retweet the really good stuff so I have a better chance of seeing it.

I accept anyone as a follower, pretty much.

Except for a few obvious accounts, I let anyone follow me. Since my tweets are public, anyone can read them (even without a Twitter account), so letting people follow me doesn’t reveal anything extra. Plus, it’s easier when you don’t have to approve people.

I don’t accept Direct Messages (DMs) from people I don’t follow.

This cuts down on the spam. Now it’s just mentions, and there aren’t too many of those. This is a good idea for anyone, so I thought I’d list it here.

I follow hashtags for a while.

Recently I followed #SeLNO for the Thunder Bay Region’s event; you can still see stuff by searching for that tag. I don’t follow the very busy tags, although I sometimes apply them to my posts (#D2L, #onted, #blendedlearning).

More recently, we ran #OTRK12, and I watched #gafesummit from a distance. Awesome learning there.

I try to follow the people in Northern Ontario.

We face many of the same issues, and perhaps we have solutions to help each other. I like that idea.

I let Twitter post my tweets to Facebook.

I don’t really use Facebook professionally, but sometimes my tweets catch the eye of some of my Facebook friends who aren’t on Twitter. Some of them are reading this post (you know who you are). It’s one more way to expand the conversation. (I imagine some of my friends are tired of all the education-related stuff.)

I don’t cross post to Facebook anymore.

I tweet too much. No one on Facebook wants to read all of that stuff. The handful of FB friends who do are also Twitter users and teachers, so they just go to Twitter to find me.

I use Tweetdeck; it rocks.

Chrome has TweetDeck as an app; I like that I can have columns for a variety of things I want to look at. Currently I have my Twitter timeline, my Twitter Interactions, my Twitter Messages (DMs), columns for #gafesummit, SGDSB, #NaPoWriMo, #OntEd, and #niprockart, a Twitter #NeLChat search, my Facebook Timeline and my Facebook Notifications, and a bunch of lists. It’s great.

I use Lists

Some I create, some I follow. Lists are a way to categorize users you’re interested in semi-following. For example, I have a TweetDeck column for SGDSB Educators, maintained by @ColleenKR. Although I do follow some SGDSB teachers (like @WallwinS, @GeraldtonSteve, @fryed, and others), I don’t know if I want to follow every teacher in the board. This way I can dip into the SGDSB conversation flow and track more people without cluttering up my timeline.

I say things for myself, and I say things for others.

I tweet things that I want to remember or revisit (great for “note-taking” at a session/workshop/conference). I also tweet things to inform others or start conversations.

I talk a lot

I try to ask questions and help out when others ask questions. I’m proud to say I was recently included as an honourary member of the SGDSB educators list because I help out the teachers up there, so I think my contributions are valued.

More importantly, I’m developing relationships with these distant folks, and the growth of my PLN has helped me out in my work as well. Thanks, everyone.

If you want to follow me…

I’m @bgrasley. No pressure, of course. Use Twitter however it works best for you!

How I Use Twitter Professionally

I’ve noticed several posts lately about how to use Twitter as a teacher for professional development; I thought I’d weigh in.

My tweets are public.

I’m trying to encourage conversation and collaboration, so my tweets are globally accessible.

I don’t follow a lot of people.

I currently follow 70 people, of whom about 40 are actively tweeting (let’s say at least weekly). Some of these aren’t related to education; for example, I follow The LEGO Group (@LEGO_Group).

I can keep up with this: I read every tweet, unless it’s an especially busy day in my face-to-face life.

I accept anyone as a follower, pretty much.

Except for a few obvious accounts, I let anyone follow me. Since my tweets are public, anyone can read them (even without a Twitter account), so letting people follow me doesn’t reveal anything extra. Plus, it’s easier when you don’t have to approve people.

I don’t accept Direct Messages (DMs) from people I don’t follow.

This cuts down on the spam. Now it’s just mentions, and there aren’t too many of those. This is a good idea for anyone, so I thought I’d list it here.

I follow hashtags for a while.

Recently I followed #SeLNO for the Thunder Bay Region’s event; you can still see stuff by searching for that tag. I don’t follow the very busy tags, although I sometimes apply them to my posts (#D2L, #onted, #blendedlearning).

I try to follow the people in Northern Ontario.

We face many of the same issues, and perhaps we have solutions to help each other. I like that idea.

I let Twitter post my tweets to Facebook.

I don’t really use Facebook professionally, but sometimes my tweets catch the eye of some of my Facebook friends who aren’t on Twitter. Some of them are reading this post (you know who you are). It’s one more way to expand the conversation. (I imagine some of my friends are tired of all the education-related stuff.)

I use Tweetdeck; it rocks.

Chrome has TweetDeck as an app; I like that I can have columns for a variety of things I want to look at. Currently I have my Twitter timeline, my Twitter Interactions, my Twitter Messages (DMs), a Twitter #NeLChat search, my Facebook Timeline and my Facebook Notifications. It’s great.

I say things for myself, and I say things for others.

I tweet things that I want to remember or revisit (great for “note-taking” at a session/workshop/conference). I also tweet things to inform others or start conversations.

If you want to follow me…

I’m @bgrasley. No pressure, of course. Use Twitter however it works best for you!

First Publish in a Safe Place

The Thunder Bay Region had The Symposium for eLearning in Northwestern Ontario (SeLNO) this week in Thunder Bay. I didn’t attend, but I was happy to watch things happening on Twitter (#SeLNO) whenever I had a chance to dip into it. A quick conversation about blogging using D2L caught my eye:

It got me thinking about how “global” we ask students to be when they’re learning about social media, Web 2.0, etc. I posted:

I was thinking about a recent experience in a grade 7/8 class. The students were exploring Blended Learning for the first time, and as a first discussion prompt we asked, “Describe your digital self: how much about the “real you” do you put on the Internet?”

Their answers surprised me a little. About half of the class didn’t “publish” – no Facebook account, no Twitter, no anything. They were consumers of content, and they would use instant chat services, but they expressed nothing that was likely to be “permanent”. The other half published (usually to Facebook, although they didn’t think of it as publishing when I asked them), but most of those students didn’t put any really personal information out there.

That was a little bit heartening for me, and I started thinking about how best to train the students to become responsible publishers in a Web 2.0 world. I’m happy to have my thoughts be globally accessible, partly because I want to encourage a broad dialogue and partly because I’m confident I won’t make any damaging mistakes. If I had 12-year-old child, I think I might have some concerns with their thoughts being broadcast, unchecked, across the web.

That’s why a secure, password-protected environment like the Learning Management System that e-Learning Ontario provides (Desire2Learn) makes sense, especially for that first online publishing experience. It’s a great place to train students how to write, what to write, and what not to write. When they make a mistake, we can help them fix it. Let’s prepare them for the real world by playing in the backyard a little bit first. I don’t think it has to take long, and we certainly won’t be able to prevent them from striking out on their own without us (nor do we want to, I’d argue). But let’s give them some guidelines, strategies and cautionary principles first. Then we’ll escort them out into the wild, and finally set them free.

New BLTs – where to begin?

[Note: I tried to add an audio clip of me reading this post, but WordPress apparently wants me to get a “Space Upgrade” to enable that feature. Didn’t realize that. I’ve posted it to my Google Drive for now, and here’s a link. I’ll work out something better (and also free) soon.]

Click here to access the audio version.

I had a couple of good meetings this week with new BLTs (Blended Learning Teachers) who had attended eSymposium last week. They’ve clearly been thinking about the impact of technology on learning. Our conversations ranged from avoiding the filter bubble to engaging students who don’t have access to technology at home, and everything in between. I was struck by the careful consideration that teachers were giving to the use of technology in their classes (what’s efficient? what’s helpful? what’s optional?) and the decisions that resulted from that thinking. It was very encouraging, and although I finished the day exhausted from our efforts, I was also energized by the enthusiasm I saw (which explains the midnight-on-a-Friday blog post). I’ve been pondering for a couple of days, and I decided it might be worthwhile trying to consolidate our discussions into some recommendations that I can pass along. I don’t imagine that these are new, but perhaps they’ll help an interested-but-terrified new BLT somewhere.

(I mostly talk about Blended Learning in the context of using Desire2Learn, the Learning Management System funded by e-Learning Ontario, in a public school in Ontario.)

Start

Get your e-Learning Contact to make a course (or a bunch of courses) for you. Log in. Poke around. Srsly. Until you have access, you’re mostly stuck. In my board at least, this is a zero-commitment step. If you’re not happy with what you see, no hard feelings.

Define A Goal

Why are you doing this? Because you believe students need the skills that Blended Learning helps to develop? Because you want to share with students in a way they’ll find relevant? Because you need to overcome geographical barriers? These are all great reasons; which is important to you and your students? Once you’ve thought about the goal, it will frame and define your decision-making about how to proceed and where to spend your energy.

Try One Tool

It’s not good to try everything at once. If you’re the rare wizard who can leap into the environment with utter success, that’s great; however, you’re likely working with a group of students who need to get used to the water a bit. Take it easy. Try one thing first (I suggest using the Discussion tool). Branch out when your learners are ready.

Try Something That Isn’t Academic

Post some news about your dog. Have a discussion about the Blue Jays. Collect school spirit photos in a dropbox. Ask for a haiku related to technology. Less pressure on students is usually a good idea.

Look Around For Ideas

The groups I worked with had a list of ways to use different tools in D2LTake a look if you want, then head to Twitter, e-Community, or your favourite research site for more.

Get Help

You have an e-Learning Contact. They can help. Honestly, you should email them. They can help you technically, connect you with other people, and show you some possibilities you maybe hadn’t considered. Also, they’re nice people. (Full disclosure: I’m an eLC, so I’m nice too.)