Keeping on top of it all


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Firstly, there are no rules. How you use something like Twitter is entirely up to you. This is just the way I am doing things at the moment.

When I started out on Twitter, it was like my precious little seedling that I needed to grow in order for it to bear the fruit that it does now. I used to seek out new members for my network, actively trawling Twitter for fresh people to connect with. I would check others’ follows/followers, who they were conversing with, join in and proactively go out and follow people.

A while ago, my management of Twitter shifted to a broadly reactive rather than proactive process. us casinos 18

What I am currently doing requires some investment of time, probably about 20 minutes per week on average, but I think it’s important. uk casinos accepting us players

I try to monitor new followers on a weekly basis (when I can) which is usually about 25-50 accounts. Some new followers won’t get further than a glance, these tend to be:

  • Obviously commercial. I tend not to follow commercial accounts unless they are a company/organisation known to me and I want to receive updates.
  • Social media ‘gurus’. Some of these accounts appear to use a strategy of growing their numbers by following (presumably en masse) for a week or so before then unfollowing. These types of accounts often have huge numbers following and usually disproportionately high ratios of followers vs following. top 10 casino canada
  • A ‘locked’ account with no bio. How do I know if you are worth following? I know nothing about you and can’t see your tweets.

I open nearly all of my new followers’ accounts (in new browser tabs) and check: what is the safest online gambling sites

  • Bio
    – Is there one? I do follow people with minimal or missing bios but this will depend on content (tweets), see below.
    – Does the bio look like it describes someone with similar interests? Ok, there’s a good chance I’ll follow you (depending on your activity).
    – Is it a school (or similar account). If it is and it is active, I will add it to a list here. I generally don’t follow school accounts unless they are known to me directly and I want to receive updates. Similarly class accounts, which are added to a list here. real casinos online slots
  • Tweets
    – Does the account only ever retweet other content? If so, I will rarely follow, I figure I’d rather receive content first hand rather than follow a serial retweeter (where’s their engagement with others?) Currently Twitter has a tab for ‘Tweets & Replies’, I nearly always click this in order to see if they are a conversationalist. Do they engage with others? Who? What about?
    – When was the last tweet? How often does this account tweet? If it hasn’t tweeted for three months, I won’t follow. If there is a recent tweet but on the whole the account is pretty dormant (fewer than 10 tweets in last few months), I probably won’t follow.
    – Is the account too noisy? Is it tweeting 20+ times per day? If so, I might not want my timeline crowded in that way.
    – Are there endless ‘inspirational quotations’ being tweeted? If so, no thanks.
    – Is this simply a broadcast channel, tweeting blogpost updates or those ‘’ daily update thingies (does anyone ever look at those)? If so, no thanks again, I don’t want your daily updates – even if I happen to be one of the ‘Top stories’ #sigh. rtg casino canada
  • Followers
    – Occasionally I will click on the ‘Followers’ tab on their page. There is a button there for ‘Followers I know’. If they are followed by some of my most respected connections, that may justify my giving them a follow.

I am conscious that I am missing people with this process. For example, I am missing the person who has just set up their Twitter account and given me a follow but because they are new they haven’t yet got into the swing of things and, despite being great tweeters a couple of weeks into things, I haven’t followed them. I could do with these people giving me a mention maybe, to nudge me into action.

Finally, I use a couple of free tools to conduct some further Twitter management. I think of this as ‘pruning’ and involves me monitoring who unfollows me, for which I use I also monitor which of my followers have gone quiet or inactive for which I use I like both of these because, although they require access to your Twitter account, what they don’t do is send out that annoying auto-tweet about numbers of followers etc that other services seem to do. They are both also free.

There you have it. I have always devoted time to managing my network and as things continue to evolve I thought it worth sharing what I’m doing right now.

Got any observations? Top tips? Please feel free to comment.

Image courtesy of Kingstongal on Flickr

Protect or not?

I was asked today whether or not a school or class twitter account should be protected or not (a parent had suggested they should lock down the accounts and only allow approved followers) and whether there was any advice or guidance I could share on the matter. Here’s what I said in my reply. I thought it worth sharing wider:

As a rule, I would advocate open unless there is a compelling argument otherwise – this ensures a wide audience etc. Ask yourself (and the parent maybe) “What exactly are your concerns about the followers and why would you want to set it to accepted followers only?” I’d love to know the answer to this one.

Here are some concerns that may be cited: 

–    Predatory undesirables may follow the account. Answer: They could do this whether or not the account is protected. How would you know whether the request from @dave32457 is Nathan’s grandpa in Australia or a predatory undesirable? What’s more, if you set the account to protected and needed to approve followers you would get:
1. An additional administrative overhead (are you going to ask every new follower to explain who they are and why they want to follow? How would you ever know if that’s the truth?) and
2. A potentially greater problem if it turned out that one of the followers was a known predatory undesirable and the school had (albeit inadvertently) approved them as a follower – the press would like that, I reckon!

–     Some Twitter accounts are clearly undesirable and inappropriate to have as followers. This is an unfortunate feature of Twitter that occasionally such accounts appear as new followers. This is the only potentially compelling argument to protect a class/school account. However, for me, it doesn’t outweigh the benefits of being open. My advice on this would be to monitor followers daily and block any inappropriate or undesirable ones. You may have to actually view the timeline of the new follower’s account for this.

–     Followers are visible as followers and they may tweet inappropriate things and this may impact negatively on our reputation as a school by association. My answer to this is that what your followers say on Twitter is no more your responsibility than what parents might say down the pub or on Facebook – it is their look-out.

–     “I don’t want my chiild’s image published on the internet.” This is more than just a Twitter argument actually. Answer: Why not? Exactly why not? Ok, fair enough if there is a genuine child-protection issue but if not? What exactly are you worried about?

 One of the great things about an unprotected account is that it does provide a genuine and potentially huge global audience which is one compelling reason for a school/class to use Twitter, alongside the other which is parental engagement. Another, slightly technical reason for keeping it open is that retweets from protected accounts do not work so, someone like myself (or Nathan’s mum for instance) would be unable  to share further the fabulous stuff being tweeted  (including to Nathan’s grandpa – who might not yet be following). I love the way that I can share the greatness of Twitter as a fantastic school tool by retweeting school/class accounts to my wider following of schools and educators and this would be curtailed with a protected account. Whether you follow other accounts and who they are is another matter and worthy of some caution and consideration as it represents a choice. singapore online casino

What do you think? Should schools or classes protect or unprotect their Twitter feeds? Is it different for a class account vs a school account? Have I missed anything? I would really welcome your input as a comment!

Images with thanks to leehaywood on Flickr (via creative commons)

Twitter for educators


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I recently ran a session for my colleagues where my intention was to introduce them to Twitter.

I love Twitter. It has literally changed my life since I signed up in January 2009. I am troubled by the idea that there may be others out there whose lives could be similarly changed for the good, but they just don’t know about it. wsj virtual casino

So I thought about how I might explain what it is all about and how I might persuade educators that there is something about it they might find useful professionally.

Here is the presentation I put together. It wouldn’t do for you to use in its entirety. It is personal to me and my experience of Twitter (you probably haven’t danced around the room after a Twitter exchange with Darren Huckerby, or got the lowdown on government policy with the (then) Secretary of State for Education). However, it might help provide you with a useful structure that you might use as a framework for your own presentation for colleagues.

There are no rules. This is just the way I do it and it works for me.

Here’s my thinking.
Slide 1 – Title slide
Slide 2 – Although Twitter was invented with ‘What are you doing?’ in mind, educators have harnessed it as a powerful networking and sharing medium. You really need an account to use Twitter. This is best done by having an avatar and a brief biography as a minimum. Twitter accounts can be public or protected. I discussed the pros and cons of both. There are also some Twitter rules and things you can do. It is about sharing, collaborating and participating (for me).
Slide 3 – A useful analogy for Twitter is that it is like a lively bar, staffroom or office. You can share something interesting with everyone, you can have conversations with one or more other people and you can have private conversations.
Slide 4 – Some ‘banal’ tweets. NB Sometimes the banal leads to something serendipitous.
Slide 5 – Some ‘useful’ tweets.
Slide 6 – My Twitter page. I pointed out the timeline and my ‘stats’.
Slide 7 – My Twitter profile.
Slide 8 – Tweets that mention me. I *should* get to see absolutely every tweet that addresses me directly or that mentions me.
Slide 9 – The Language of Twitter. As with any ‘gang’, community or society, conventions arise. Some for ‘cliquey’ reasons, others for utility reasons such as economy of space.
Slide 10 – Conversations. Addressing someone else on Twitter requires you to start your tweet with their @name. This particular conversation starts with a ‘banal’ tweet by me but soon develops into something useful.
Slide 11 – Retweeting. Retweets are a bit like forwarding useful emails to the rest of the team. There are different ways for it to be done and different ways to spot it. Twitter RT, RT with edit etc.
Slide 12 – Some examples of retweets
Slide 13 – Hashtags. These have various functions. Mostly they arise because many people need a ‘magic word’ to identify tweets that are all discussing or referencing the same topic. Particularly useful for TV shows, conferences, crowd-sourcing, Twitter ‘chats’ etc.
Slide 14 – Some hashtagged tweets.
Slide 15 – Emoticons. These have arisen because it is not easy to transmit a facial expression, body-language or eye-contact via text alone. I am a naturally smiley person 🙂
Slide 16 – Shortening your links so they fit into a tweet. Many Twitter services automatically shorten links anyway. Useful to know about and others for other purposes though.
Slide 17 – Some schools that tweet. Schools might have a Twitter account in addition to other ways that they face outwards (text messages, website, email etc). Schools may tweet significant dates, weekly menus, closures, updates etc.
Slide 18 – Some classes tweet. It is important to note that Twitter has a 13 year old age limit. These classes have protected Twitter accounts and adults may do the actual tweeting. Twitter provides a global audience for pupils, a real reason for writing and is a powerful medium.
Slide 19 – Twitter is like a river. This is a powerful analogy. You need to know and learn to accept that you cannot realistically read everything on Twitter. This becomes less and less realistic the more people you follow. The river that is Twitter is constantly flowing by. You can choose to sit on the bank and watch it. You can choose to get in and swim around. You can choose to walk away from it altogether. You might glimpse something float by that interests you and get involved.
Slide 20 – Coping with the information. At this point, I introduced Tweetdeck as a way to manage the flow of information. I showed the ‘river’ flowing along in my ‘All friends’ column. I showed my mentions column. I showed how to use a column to follow a hashtag. I also showed how I had made a special column for a list of valued individuals whose tweets I generally don’t want to miss. I have made a list for these 100 or so people and have a column in Tweetdeck for their tweets.
Slide 21 – Who to follow and what to do with new followers? Twitter takes some tending. I check my new followers every day. I seek out new people to follow.
Slide 22 – Twitter becomes particularly powerful when it is ‘mobile’. Particularly sharing photos from smartphones.
Slide 23 – Golden rules. What you tweet is visible. Potentially forever. As a professional, you need to be conscious about what you are saying. I visualise my followers inhabiting a section of a football stand. I visualise their faces. They include my line manager, my wife, my colleagues etc. Am I happy to stand on the pitch and megaphone my tweet to all those people? If yes, then hit ‘Send’.
Slide 24 – Some things simply wouldn’t have been possible without Twitter. This is a very personal slide including: The British Embassy in Washington DC, Ed Balls MP, Darren Huckerby and Councillor Mehboob Kahn. Furthermore, I knew about the earthquake/tsunami, Michael Jackson’s death and other breaking news on Twitter hours before it broke in conventional media.
Slide 25 – Twitter starts like a delicate seedling that needs care and attention. You need to ‘grow’ your Twitter followers if you are to end up with a sturdy tree from which you can
endlessly harvest delicious fruits.
Slide 26 – Do follow up on these links:
CPD provided by Twits by Ian Addison
Twitter for teachers: building your network by @creativeedu
Ten life lessons we can learn on Twitter
13 Ways Twitter Improves Education
And, if you’re in education, follow these people for starters (this is not a definitive list!).

A couple of final points worth dropping in: video poker download
How does Twitter differ from Facebook? Facebook is for the people you went to school with. Twitter is for the people you wish you’d been to school with.
Watch your Twitter/life balance. I do need to regularly remind myself where my priorities lie!
Finally, a huge thank you to all those you helped me whislt I put this presentation together, responded to my mid-presentation appeal and who continue to enrich me daily with their wisdom and wit.