For the longest time, I could see no way to connect online teaching with Twitter.
Twitter was like some annoying, large exotic bird.
Oh, I could hear it squawking, alright.
I could see it hopping around my backyard.
But I was far too busy with my online teaching load to bother making friends with a wild blue bird…
Somehow, that didn’t seem to matter.
The blue bird of Twitter kept on flapping past my window.
It started singing to me.
And eventually, I opened the window. I held out a handful of birdseed.
I was truly amazed to discover that everything I believed about Twitter was wrong…
1. Twitter is a total waste of time
Well, if you spend 4 hours looking for inspiration for your kitchen makeover, or finding out who had the best hair on the red carpet, then yes, that’s time you won’t get back.
But that approach is not compulsory.
And believe it or not, when you use it strategically, Twitter can actually save you time.
If you create a List of your most valuable accounts or followers, you effectively have access to curated content in your field. Scrolling through a curated feed is a really efficient way to stay current without spending half your day browsing industry websites.
You can also search Twitter for relevant e-learning content.
From the outside, the Twitter audience seems to be made up of people obsessed with the Kardashians, or sharing photos of what they had for dinner.
Plenty of people use Twitter for that kind of thing, for sure.
But if you’re using it professionally, you simply follow accounts that focus on education, and your particular sub-area of expertise.
By filtering out the social media ‘noise,’ you then have access to highly targeted updates that are directly relevant to your work.
You can make Twitter even more relevant by using it as an extension of your online teaching tools.
3. Twitter is a massive invasion of your privacy
So far, no serial killers have reached out to me on Twitter.
No-one is trawling my profile trying to find out where I live.
It’s up to you how much private information you want to put out there.
And by showing a little of your personality, you’re more likely to establish meaningful contacts with other professionals who are on Twitter to network (not stalk).
4. No-one cares what you do professionally
Actually, they do.
Especially if you’re friendly, helpful, and doing work that your network is already interested in.
Plenty of other potential colleagues and valuable contacts are on Twitter specifically to make connections with people just like you.
5. Twitter makes meaningful communication impossible
Twitter forces you to use an abbreviated form of communication, it’s true. A tweet can only contain 280 characters.
You’re already used to overcoming communication challenges – you compensate for lack of visual cues every day when you email students.
This is simply a different kind of communication challenge.
On Twitter, you need to get straight to the point.
Once you master the short, sharp Twitter communication technique, you may surprise yourself.
I’ve been amazed by how one sentence can easily convey support, inspiration and ideas – and open the door to making valuable connections.
Twitter’s a great way to start conversations – which you can continue via email, phone or Skype.
So Twitter is More Relevant to Online Teaching Than It Looks…
It turns out that Twitter is not the squawking waste of time I once thought it was.
It’s a powerful way of growing your network beyond the teacher sitting next to you in the staff room. And it’s a useful way of remedying the potential isolation and all-too-common invisibility of online teaching.
When you use Twitter strategically, you become connected to an international network of like-minded people with a genuine interest in what you’re doing.
I honestly never thought that a bird with blue feathers could actually help me to teach online!
To learn more about how online teachers can use social media as a career-enhancing tool, take a look at E-learning Stardom, my crash course in getting the professional rewards you deserve.
Photo credits: brux @ Canstockphoto.com