All school staff benefit from engagement with continuing professional development (CPD) – keeping up to date in their subject and curriculum area, and in teaching approaches and methods. Web and mobile based technologies have changed the landscape for school staff in terms of how they can connect to other educators both locally and across the globe. Personal Learning Networks (PLN), developed and managed by educators, allow school staff to discover, discuss and share relevant ideas, resources and approaches.
Twitter is jam packed with educators from all over the country, and all over the world, who are interested in sharing with and learning from colleagues. Leicester City Council's BSF ICT Strategy Lead, @josiefraser ran two Twitter for Educators CPD sessions, designed to support staff in using Twitter in developing their professional networks. The workshops support work around the DigiLit Leicester project sixth framework strand – Technology supported Professional Development, and were designed to help staff improve their confidence and skills in this area.
Two sessions were held at De Montfort University: a beginner workshop, aimed to get staff up and running with Twitter and to introduce the basics and an intermediate workshop, offering essential tips and tools for improving the Twitter experience.
Create your Twitter Presence
This session was aimed at absolute beginners and assumed no prior use of Twitter. The workshop began with an introduction to the basics of Twitter; creating a username, choosing an avatar (profile picture) and writing your Twitter bio (160 character biography). Attendees were then supported in setting up their profiles through a ‘desktop tour’ of Twitter, a walkthrough of the sign up process.
For many beginners, the anatomy of a tweet can be the most complicated part of getting to grips with the service. With hashtags, retweets, mentions and more, beginners can easily be overwhelmed. A Twitter basics workshop worksheet was provided for staff, identifying the key conventions used in tweets, to help staff familiarise with these elements. Attendees were also encouraged to work together, tweeting one another, to build up confidence.
Top tips were also shared, thinking about the use of Twitter as an educator, and the implications that has for ones behaviour online. Issues such as following students, parents or carers and checking the validity of information before tweeting it were discussed.
Developing your Personal Learning Networks (PLN) on Twitter
The second session was designed for staff who are familiar with Twitter basics and already have profiles. This session focused on engaging with communities on Twitter and tips for growing PLNs. In particular, this workshop looked at how to write ‘sweet tweets’ – to share in a way that engages others.
The final portion of the workshop focused on tools to aid effective tweeting: URL shorteners, like goo.gl which can track the number of times your link is accessed; mobile and desk-based clients; and social bookmarking tools, to save and share useful tweets.
BSF School staff were given the option of attending either the beginner or intermediate sessions, or to attend the entire evening. 20 members of staff attended the workshop, representing 9 of the BSF schools: The City of Leicester College, English Martyrs’ Catholic School, The Lancaster School, Millgate School, Nether Hall School, Rushey Mead School, Sir Jonathan North Community College, Soar Valley College and St Paul’s Catholic School.
The Twitter for Educators workshops were packed with content and many attendees left the sessions buzzing with ideas and inspiration.
- You can see how the team used Storify to collect and curate tweets from our recent TeachMeet event
- The Teacher's Guide to Twitter - from @Edudemic
- Have you got a great Twitter resource that has been really useful? Recommend it in the comments!