Twitter and Your School
The world around us is abuzz with talk of Web 2.0 and social networking. Those in schools, who are teaching students basic skills of reading and writing, are sometimes left wondering whether they are lagging behind in adopting these latest technologies. On average the student community seems more involved in these new and innovative ways of communicating than the teaching staff. It is time to rectify this imbalance and Twitter is a great place to start.
Twitter is a free web-based service that allows a person with an account to give a 140 character update to followers. The update or tweet appears on the cell-phones of all people who have signed up as a follower of any particular profile. This is instant communication at its best. Twitter can achieve what the herald of yore did - communicate a message to a large group of people at the same time. Twitter's in-built length limitation is a blessing also because it ensures that the key idea is communicated immediately.
Twitter can be a major asset to the school and the teacher who wants to stay actively in touch with the community of parents and students. A school which chooses to set up a Twitter account should market the idea to the parents and community at large and sell the idea of keeping everyone on the same page. The Twitter account should be managed by one person and every effort should be made to maintain high standards of professionalism. It is best to avoid casual humor as this is a slippery slope - it is a good idea to assume a professional voice and stick to it for all communication. Twitter is easy in that a short message is sent and received by many people in a matter of seconds. This is the blessing and curse of Tweets. It sometimes tempts people to indulge often in sending out short messages and this can be terrible for parents who receive multiple updates about issues that do not need to be handled as emergencies. It is best to use Twitter with discretion and set a limit of two tweets a day. This will be a good way of ensuring that only important material gets communicated in this format. Email, school website or other forms of collective information distribution can be used for more detailed material.
Much of this advice applies to a teacher who chooses to use Twitter also and there are some additional recommendations to keep in mind as well. A teacher should keep their professional and personal life distinct if choosing to use Twitter. A parent does not need to hear about the great Saturday night party that a teacher attended. A teacher's account can be a great way of sharing what is happening in the classroom and can allow a way for parents and students to come together. Additionally, a teacher can have a separate account for personal growth and development which they can use to connect with other teachers. Teachers can share ideas and links with others and ask for feedback and criticism of their material or lesson plan. Twitter allows for a certain immediacy of response that will be a great way for teachers to feel like they are in a collaborative environment.
Twitter, much like other social networking tools, is about communicating and collaborating and schools and teachers can greatly benefit from this tool if it is used with thoughtfulness and discretion.
Twitter and Schools Insights From Other Web Sites
- How Schools Are Using Twitter - A good piece.
- Is Your University Using Twitter to Its Fullest Potential? - A good question.
- Nine Reasons to Twitter in Schools - Offers a pretty persuasive argument.