I once heard someone say, “Twitter is like drinking from a fire hose.” Using Twitter can seem like an information overload and seem pointless without knowing how to make sense of its content.
And if you don’t know how to filter content through hashtags, Twitter can just seem like random thoughts posted by too many people and sometimes those thoughts, or Tweets, get ReTweeted. Then, there are these Hashtag things. Say what?!
If you watch the following video and this makes sense, then you probably understand hashtags and you can stop reading this post. But if you watch it and miss the point, I’ll try my best to make a case for using Twitter and leveraging the Hashtag for professional growth.
So I take it the video made no sense to you and even though you are slightly confused, you still want to know more about hashtags. In the wrong hands (see video above), a hashtag can seem meaningless and idiotic. In the hands of a professional Twitter-user (not me), a hashtag can filter information to…
- Locate specific information/resources,
- Communicate with other like-minded people, and
- Share information/resources with others.
Okay I’m trying to be “cute” by making my subtitles hashtags. As you can see, Twitter hashtags start with the # sign and are followed by a word or phrase associated with a topic. For instance, #EdChat is a hashtag that thousands of educators meet-up on Tuesday evenings to discuss weekly topics. As a former fourth grade teachers, I would watch and chime in on the #4thchat discussions on Monday nights. Being a Indiana Native, I cannot forget to mention #INeLearn, which occurs on Thursdays. Follow hashtags that pique your interests.
Basically, hashtags filter information by topic and make it easier to understand the fire hose of information. When used well, hashtags can make a Twitter user’s experience more like a run through a sprinkler than a full-power blast from a hose. Using hashtags helps control the flow of information.
Use hashtags to receive an answer to a question. We had a snake slither into one of the elementary buildings, while students were coming in from recess. The students were extraordinarily calm about snake rushing through the hallway. To be honest, I think it scared some of the teachers more than the students. To be even more honest, I’m not a big snake fan. However, Twitter has tons of them, I found one of them through the use of several strategic hashtags placed within my Tweet below. I took a picture of the snake once it was safely outside, asked a question, and inserted many science-type hashtags. Then, my answer came in from David A. Steen (@AlongsideWild), and I gained a valuable resource in the form of his blog, Living Alongside Wild, from this quick answer he provided. This is just a great way to connect your classroom with experts.
Here is just one example of using a hashtag to follow a common topic. The Global Read Aloud project is currently connecting many teachers and classrooms through the use of a shared read aloud experience. The #GRA13 hashtag is a great tool providing teachers with instructional resources, classroom connections, and opportunities to communicate with Authors like Kate Messner below. Whenever Tweeting about the Global Read Aloud, just and the #GRA13 hashtag to your Tweet and your message will be sent to anyone following that topic.
Take the plug into the Twitter firehose and attempt to make sense of all that content through the use of TweetDeck
and hashtags that help you locate information and resources. The image of the TweetDeck webpage below displays how hashtags can be separated into columns–sprinkler graphic from earlier.
If a teacher leverages the use of hashtags effectively, they can grow exponentially as a professional with the collaborative power of Twitter. Regardless of how much technophobes bash the use of Twitter and hashtags, in the “right” hands Twitter hashtags can be used to locate, communicate, and share.
For those teachers looking to connect with other professionals teaching the same subjects follow hashtags, search for hashtags that relate to your subject-area and grade-level. Use the resources at the end of this post to locate hashtags for education. By locating hashtags and Twitter-users to follow, you will grow your professional learning network and refuel your passion for teaching and learning.
- The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education
- CybraryMan’s Educational Hashtags
- The 2012 A-Z List of Educational Twitter Hashtags by Edudemic