Friday, December 20, 2013

What Works for Me on Twitter: Alternatives to Twitter.com

I was told long ago that the best thing I could do after I signed up on Twitter.com is leave the site alone and use other Twitter clients instead.  There are many other programs and tools that can help users get way more out of Twitter.  The tools I will share below are only a couple of the many tools users have to choose from.  These tools have worked effectively for me on both professional and personal levels.

When it comes to using my iPhone and iPad I use Echofon.  Echofon has a free version that has has some ads in it.  I decided that since I was going to use Echofon a lot that I would invest $4.99 to get rid of the ads.  That was just my choice and it has been worth it.  (Thanks for asking.)  Pro Tip: purchase Echofon Pro for iPad and use it on your iPhone as well.  I haven't had any issues on my phone at all even though I'm using the pro iPad version on it.  One of my favorite features in Echofon is the "Mute" feature.  I don't necessarily need to unfollow someone or add them to a list when he or she is posting multiple tweets about something I may not be interested in.  I simply hit the "Mute" button and do my best to remember to "Unmute" them later.  Echofon allows me to easily navigate between my Twitter accounts while giving me full access to my mentions, messages, and lists for each account.  It also syncs between mobile devices so I don't see the same tweet twice if I don't want to.

When I'm on a computer my go to tool is TweetDeck.  TweetDeck allows me to add from a list of columns which stream live on my machine.  Those columns can be one of my Twitter timelines, interactions (mentions and new follows), just mentions or followers by themselves, messages, resources from a Twitter search (for example, a hashtag I'd like to follow during a chat live), lists, tweets, favorites, trends on Twitter (popular hashtags or topics), recent activity from the people I follow, any tweet or message that has been directed toward me from any account I've linked in TweetDeck in one column from one of my multiple accounts, as well as the option to see any tweets that I have scheduled to be posted later.  That's a lot of options.  Just for a visual, the "Add Column" option pane looks like this:


It's all a little overwhelming at first, but with some experience TweetDeck became an essential part of how I interact (in a efficient way) from any one of my Twitter accounts.

Again, these are just a few of the many options out there.  I wanted to share what works for me in hopes the same tools may work well for you.  Good luck and have fun!
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What Works for Me on Twitter: Mentions



Before I decided to write my Twitter series I authored a post that explains how important mentions on Twitter can potentially be.  Please check it out here if you haven't read it yet.

What I've learned over time is that mentions can serve a small handful of different purposes.  One, mentions give credit where credit is due.  A mention in your tweet points people in the right direction whether it be a user or a company.  Two, and as I shared before, mentions have the potential to connect you with people you may not have encountered anyway.  Those few mentions have led to a relationship between our team and the company that wouldn't have been able to happen without each others presence and interaction on Twitter.  There's nothing to not like about that as everyone is better for it.

So don't forget that "@" sign when you have a chance to use it purposefully.  You never know where it may take you.  It has definitely been a dynamic ride for me so far.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What Works for Me on Twitter: Lists

Does your Twitter timeline tend to overwhelm you from time to time?  Is someone posting random tweets that keep you from accessing the useful information you joined Twitter for?  Do you have a group of people that post tweets regarding a similar topic most of the time?  If any, some, or all of the above situations apply to you it's time to begin setting up some Twitter lists.

Many users aren't aware of this, but you are a mere few clicks away from way more control over what you see and when on Twitter.  Simply click on your settings wheel in the upper right hand corner of your Twitter home page and you're on your way to a less complicated and more valuable experience with Twitter.


The main Twitter list "pane" looks like this.



Click on the "Create list" button to get started.  Here are the options to choose from:


Give the list a name.  Add a description if it will help you or your audience know what information and/or who is included in the list.  Also be aware that the list you create can be private only to you or be shared with others.  Pro Tip: Explore the public lists of the people you enjoy following most to find other Twitter members you may like to follow as well.

If you ever want to go back to a list, rename it, edit the description, or make a private list public or vice versa, simply go to the list and click on the "Edit" button here:

 
Also, clicking the "Member of" button here,


will allow you to see which public lists other Twitter users have placed you on.  See who may be stalking you because you're awesome!

As seen in the images, I have two lists associated with the Twitter account I use professionally.  One list, titled "IT Team" is there to make sure that I don't miss any tweets the colleagues on my team posts.  I follow them in the traditional way, but if I'm not on my timeline at the right time I could miss an important tweet of theirs and I don't want that to happen.  The other list I created is simply titled "List."  I have reserved this list for a few people that I really want to follow, but they just post too much during the day.  This way I can still see their tweets, but now I see their tweets when I want to see them instead of when they post them.

There are many reasons to create a list on Twitter.  I was speaking from experience in my examples earlier.  Your reasons may be different than mine, but one thing we can agree on is that having a little more control over when you see particular tweets from particular people is a positive thing.

So this should hopefully get you started with lists.  Enjoy the new control you have over your timeline and let your more personal Twitter experience work better for you.

(For further information about the creation and use of lists on Twitter the great people at Edudemic have you covered.  Click here for a post about how to create Twitter lists and click here for some perspective on how to manage information from your PLN via Twitter lists.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

What Works/Worked for Me on Twitter: Getting Started

I'm pretty confident that I could write an extensive post on how to get started on Twitter, but why do that when many talented and smart people have already done it?

Below you'll find links to a small handful of posts that will give you the basics on how to get signed up and tweeting like a pro in no time.

A Visual Guide to Twitter for Beginners via Edudemic.

A shared Google doc with step-by-step directions on how to get started on Twitter via Alice Keeler on Twitter (@alicekeeler).

Re-Imagine Your Professional Development Experience...With Twitter via Victoria Olson.

How to Use Twitter for Teaching and Learning via Edudemic.

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Twitter via Steven W. Anderson.

Twitter for Teachers (video below) via Erin Klein.

 

Twitter (social media) Pro Tip: Go to any resource that you sign up for with as much purpose as you can apply.  We can talk for days about how to use Twitter (the tool), but without a specific purpose about how you'd like to use it excitement and motivation will fade very, very quickly  There is no better place for self-paced/asynchronous professional development for me.  Every time I log in I find resources to bookmark and/or share.  

Twitter works really well for me and I hope it can work just as well, if not better, for you. 

More posts to come in the "What Works for Me on Twitter" coming at you soon!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Professional Learning, Anytime and Anywhere

Early to an appointment at a school?  Potential for professional learning.

Waiting to get my haircut?  Potential for professional learning.

Waiting in line at the grocery store?  Potential for professional learning.

Anytime I have access to my phone, iPad, and the Internet in general I have almost direct access to professional learning sources.  How is that?

I am putting this out there because I truly believe it (and I'll even type it in bold font to show that I'm totally serious): There is no better place for asynchronous/self-paced professional learning than Twitter and Twitter helps me be more effective at what I do.  Period.

October is Connected Educators Month and I wanted share the tool that continues to shape my passion for what I do while, at the same time, allowing me the potential to connect, talk, and share with people across our school district, our state, the United States, and potentially the world.

It's a fact that Twitter itself has useless things on it.  There isn't much on the Internet, especially social media, today that doesn't.  Twitter though, along with many other places, allows users to filter the "noise" by providing the chance to follow and highlight who you want.  Also, with Twitter lists, users can control when they see tweets from other Twitter users while potentially making sure that tweets about like subjects can be found all in one place.  Weekly Twitter hashtag chats allow users to tweet about like topics during particular days and times with people who have similar interests and passions from around the world.  Twitter can very easily be leveraged as a one-way tool as well.  Users don't need to or have to post personal tweets.  Just follow users that share information that's useful to you and that can be it.  These are just a few of the many benefits of using Twitter professionally in some way, shape, or form.

Quite frankly, and in my humble opinion, the excuses for educators/educational leadership for not being a participant on Twitter for professional learning are beginning to dwindle.

I am planning a post series entitled "What Works for Me on Twitter" in the near future that will help you get started and going on Twitter.  I simply wanted to set the stage as a whole with this post.

Stay tuned...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wireless as it Should be Done...

Earlier this week our team facilitated a meeting for many of our building instructional technology coordinators and techs.  The morning was full of presentations from the technical/"nuts and bolts" people from the district.  Among those sharing information was one of our amazing network technicians.  He and his co-worker make some fantastic things happen in our buildings, including our new wireless network setup.

Here is the new configuration: one network, one password, and feel free to share it with teachers, parents, visitors, students, or whoever is in our buildings.

Wait...what?

So a teacher that would like to bring their own device from home and use it for instruction can easily access a wireless connection?  Yep.

So a student that would like to use their own device at school, including their phone, can easily access a wireless connection?  Yep.

So a parent that is visiting the building can easily access a wireless connection if they need one?  Yep.

It's bring your own device without calling it BYOD and it simply makes sense.

In fact, in my humble opinion, it's BRILLIANT.

Much of the room of tough to please people (for all of the right reasons) nodded their head in approval and did their best to hold back their applause until our network administrator was done with his part of the presentation. 

Quick side note: His introduction music as he walked up to present was the theme from Superman.  Let's just say that he lived up to that intro.

No more working extremely hard to lock down our network.  It's giving everyone the access they deserve and allows us all to work smarter and not harder.  That's what it's all about.  A system like this fosters a welcoming, innovative, and productive mindset for all who enter our buildings.  No constantly changing passwords, clunky guest wireless logins, multiple firewalls, etc.  Simply login and get things done.

Welcome to CCSD.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Definitely Worth Mentioning

I have a difficult time explaining why I have the passion for social media that I do.  Sometimes it's just best to include the details that lead me to that "tough to describe" place.  A training we facilitated last week led to one of those special moments.

Members of our team were conducting a training focused on a tool we use called Schoology.  The trainees included district professional learning representatives, instructional coaches, department coordinators, building instructional technology coordinators, and many others.  I had a few moments at the beginning of our training to check in on Foursquare to say where I was and what I was doing at the time.  I do this as I go to different buildings throughout the district.  For one, it's fun.  It also can serve as an informal record of support at the same time.

Presentation focused on @Schoology for coordinators, coaches, mentors, and building techs. #CCSDTech http://t.co/NUGqY00DcQ
A couple of minutes after that I snapped a picture and described a little more about our audience for the day.  Tweets with media embedded/shared within them are just plain better.

CCSD instructional leadership learning how to integrate @Schoology into all the great things they already do. pic.twitter.com/2zl5B9YbWq

Here's where the magic begins.

After another tweet or two I received a notification that one of my tweets had been retweeted by a user named Ryan Hwang.


I have been on Twitter a while and know there are many different reasons why someone would retweet something of mine.  He/she could be a spammer or someone looking for a new followers/someone wanting to sell something to me or whatever.  I decided to check his profile to make sure this was someone who was legit.  Here's what I found out:


Okay then...

Not only was Ryan Hwang not a spammer, he was the founder and Chief Product Officer for the tool we were training people on!

Moments after that retweet I received an alert regarding my newest follower on Twitter:



Now we're having some fun.

Next was a tweet mentioning my colleagues and me (with the appropriate hashtag):

Awesome! We're excited to have you all on board. Good luck with the rest of your presentations. @JayVeanCCSD @Schoology #CCSDTech

During the training I was sharing the Twitter details with my colleagues as well.  My new follower, as well as knowing the company was following what we were doing live, kept me motivated to share more, while obviously staying engaged with our in-person audience at the same time.

Then, the official Schoology Twitter feed chimed in:

Loving the updates from the #ccsdtech training, thanks @nmezatechlearn @jayveanccsd @kellie80!
After a little more "play-by-play" our training concluded.  It was the least I could do to thank Ryan and Schoology for the unexpected surprise.

@Schoology Thanks for following our training sessions today! #CCSDTech @nmezatechlearn @kellie80

Thinking about strategic mentions as tweets are created can be a powerful thing.  I had obviously heard of Schoology before our training, but the name of Ryan Hwang meant nothing to me.  I'm sure my name, initially, meant just as much to him.  As he began to see some mentions from my account  things took shape and before long there was excitement and motivation created.  I would like to assume that he shared his side of this story with some of the colleagues around his office.  I know I did.

UPDATE: This tweet came through the next afternoon.

Jen is Schoology's Community Manager, so it was confirmed that more people than Ryan were aware of our tweets and training.  That's pretty powerful considering that we're in Colorado and Schoology is based in New York City.

These mentions and interactions are a way to share valuable information (about a tool that we use and love) while, simultaneously, creating potential social connections that otherwise would not have had the opportunity to happen without the use of a tool like Twitter.

Above all, while using Twitter in a meaningful way (and while you may not realize it at the time) the "right" people may playing much closer attention than you ever thought.

So, for obvious reasons, my passion for social media rolls on.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Selling the Sizzle...

I have a former Aurora Public Schools colleague (and great friend) who is one of the biggest Seinfeld fans out there.  He shared a Seinfeld clip with me long ago.  It features Kramer being in the right place at the right time and accidentally getting a job.  One of our favorite lines from the episode is right here.

I have a long list of reasons why I enjoy what I do, and toward the top of that list is "selling the sizzle" rather than selling the steak.  This actually happened recently as my colleague and I were meeting with a principal and a technology teacher at one of the elementary schools in our feeder area.  "Sizzle" words like "collaboration", "PLCs", "formative assessment", and "alignment" starting working their way into our conversation so we naturally went to our current steak, which is Schoology.  Let's just say that this was a very simple sell.  This meeting ended with possibilities and excitement.  Not to brag, but most of our meetings with building leadership end this same way.

I'm not sure how long Schoology will be around, and my guess, thinking big picture, won't be forever.  Very few tools (if any) last forever.  But the sizzle, no matter the tool, keeps selling itself.  Sizzle is collaboration, efficiency, working "smarter" and not "harder" and the list goes on and on.  Tools that lend themselves to these 21st Century skills allow us to sell the sizzle rather than the steak.

That's what we do, and that's what I love.

Friday, August 2, 2013

One Week Down...

...and many, many more to go.

As I complete my first week in Cherry Creek Schools I find myself very excited and motivated about this school year.  I have been extremely impressed by the professionals I am working with directly.  We definitely have a dynamic group.  There have also been many new faces I have met in the past week.  I have been impressed by those CCSD colleagues as well.  This is a powerful district with a lot of pride, expertise, passion, tradition, and potential.  I'm extremely honored to be here and have very much enjoyed being a part of creating our future as a department.

What exactly does the future hold?  No one is quite sure yet.  But one thing is for sure, it is going to be a lot of fun.

Here we go...