Using Twitter, former educator Steven W. Anderson has crafted a powerful platform for himself in the online education world.
A former math and science teacher turned technology director turned freelance learning evangelist, Anderson left a large school district in North Carolina in 2014 to make speaking at education conferences a mostly full-time job.
Anderson led a session at TCEA 2015 on Wednesday, orienting educators new to Twitter on how the social media channel can be a powerful learning tool. Along the way, session attendees were treated to an inside look at the tricks and tools that help Anderson entertain and enlighten his 110,000 followers on Twitter.
Here are seven key takeaways from Anderson's bag of Twitter tricks:
1. Dive in to #hashtags.
Hashtags help people carry on a topics-based conversation. Anderson is co-creator of the #EdChat hashtag, with which educators regularly share thoughts on the issues of modern pedagogy. During the session, he shared a website, created by fellow education speaker Jerry Blumengarten, that is filled with dozens of education-based hashtags.
2. Join a Twitter chat.
Anderson also provided a list of scheduled Twitter chats, where educators can join in or watch hashtag-powered discussions on a variety of topics.
3. Try Diigo and keep your favorites forever.
Twitter's built-in Favorite function allows users to keep a bookmarked list of tweets they've read. But if the original tweet is deleted, the Favorite goes away, too. Diigo is a free service that allows that Favorite to be stored in the cloud, regardless of its ultimate fate on Twitter.
4. Take notifications to the next level.
If This Then That is an online service that uses app notifications as triggers for a variety of tasks, called recipes. It can automatically tweet the link to a new blog post. In another more extreme example, it can even make the lights in your home flicker when someone mentions you on Twitter, so long as you have the right equipment.
5. Save the best for later with Pocket.
Educators on the go are unlikely to have time to read every interesting link they come across on Twitter. For content you'd like to read later, there's Pocket, an online service that stores in the cloud everything you throw at it, for when you have time to peruse.
6. Have others curate your best tweets.
Imagine a marriage between a newspaper and a Twitter feed: The best and most important content of the day would go at the top of the page, and the less relevant pieces would be placed a little lower. Services like Tweeted Times and Paper.li offer that kind of sorting and prioritization, giving form to Twitter’s otherwise chaotic arrangement of tweets. Fresh content is published every 24 hours, based on that day’s Twitter activity.
7. Make social media a page-turning experience.
If the idea of a Twitter newspaper doesn’t sound appealing, Flipboard offers more of a long-form approach. The app creates personalized magazines based on social media and news feeds. Anderson says it takes time to “train” the app to respond to your reading habits and interests, but it can become a powerful tool when properly groomed.
EdTech is covering TCEA 2015, including articles on breakout sessions, keynotes and the pulse on social media. Keep up-to-date on all of our coverage by visiting our TCEA 2015 conference page.