Saturday, September 14, 2013

Twitter, why did it take me so long to get you?

I knew about Twitter.  I knew many high school students used it as their primary social networking tool. I knew my boss expected me to tweet.

Why did it take me so long to understand the most powerful learning tool, Twitter? After all, I have been sprinkling my love and excitement for teaching, technology, and learning, with a smile for as long as I can remember.  What I need to remember is, there was nothing wrong with what I was doing. What I see now is, I was only sharing with the people that see me face to face or get my emails.  They are the people I trust and work with.  I know that I have only debated and had conversations with groups of educators that will still like me tomorrow, if I don't agree with them.  

I feel that it is important to let you know that I have had a Twitter account since 2011.  I would only use Twitter when I attended a conference, like TCEA to tweet what I was learning.  I didn't add to my PLN by collecting people to follow.  When I would return home, I felt like I was tweeting myself and no one could possibly be reading what I was tweeting.  Do teachers tweet in El Paso?

I have been a faithful Twitter user for 4 months now.  Faithful, meaning that I am using it to learn, share, and make connections now.  I no longer feel like I'm tweeting myself.  How did this happen?

Twitter tips from a Newbie 

1.  Ask for Twitter Handles- During the last conference I attended, PodStock 2013, I didn't want to lose the connections I made.  Every time I had a conversation with someone, I asked for their twitter handle.  They usually asked for mine back and I gained a few new followers.  I wasn't tweeting myself anymore.

2. Build Relationships- This has been the most difficult for me.  Try to interact, answer questions that you know the answer to, send a compliment if you honestly notice they are sharing things that are valuable to you, retweet any message that you want others who are following you to read.

3. Discover hashtags #- I didn't worry about hashtags too much when I began tweeting.  I have since learned that it makes it easier to search and following topics.  As I read other tweets, I am paying attention to what hashtags they are using.  As I tweet, I am trying to add hashtags to share with others who are interested in that topic. 

4. Explore- Use the search feature in Twitter.  Search for people, topics, keywords, places, book titles, or anything you feel like learning or reading about.  After searching names of people I work under, I have discovered that I am not the only person that didn't get twitter.  There are a lot of people in education, making huge decisions, that do not have an account.  We all have to start somewhere, right?

5. Learn- Take learning into your own hands.  Every story and how is different.  Here is one story that started my twitter learning adventure.  I saw a conversation someone was having with @TechNinjaTodd.  I think I started following him because I liked his twitter handle.  I found that I am learning a lot from him and his twitter friends.  He shared, @EduAllStarsHQ podcast.  I later found that he is also a host with two other amazing educators.  As I listened to the podcasts, I started following all of the guests.  Then I found that other educators I made connections with at other conferences knew @TechNinjaTodd via twitter.  It's a small Twitter world.  I could keep going.  Since then I have been on a learning overload.  Learning through twitter because I want to, is very different than someone telling me I have to read a book and discuss it at work.  I am learning what I want to learn, when I want to learn it.  How powerful is that? 

I feel like I can sprinkle my excitement for education, learning and technology with people I know now.  I don't really know them, but I'll be working on the relationships.  Since twitter only allows for 140 characters, I know blogging is going to have to be another way I share.

Here's to my rebirth of learning and sharing.  I will be sharing Twitter with a campus on Tuesday.  I'll be happy to share your twitter advice.  I don't want it to take them 2 years to get it.

Connect with me on twitter @kbalbier


  1. Very good blog Karen, It is hard to move people to try new things! I have found that people must have a need to change, if not they will stay where they are because it is comfortable and safe (which is a breeding ground for mediocrity). Keep working, pushing, teaching, so when the light does come on you will be there to guide.

  2. That is so true. My need for change...or Twitter...was a search for inspiration. I wanted to be inspired. You know I'm always ready with the light comes and I welcome with open arms.