Introduction to the Class
Please watch this welcome video:
Now, please watch this video created by Marie Slim for a Twitter session she and I presented at the 2014 CSLA Conference.
Now, please read through all the information below and complete the numbered tasks.
1. Google+ Community
Yeah, I know this is a Twitter class, not a Google+ class. But, if you aren’t already on Google+ and participating in a few communities, this is your bonus, learning a bit about Google+ as well. Google+, another social media tool has a couple of features that Twitter doesn’t: we can maintain a private group, and we aren’t restricted to 140 characters per post. I want to use this for class participants’ to share conversations and ideas, and to ask questions. So, if you haven’t signed up yet, please do. Here are instructions. And, once you join the community, please do a posting introducing yourself and sharing what you hope to get from our course. Finally, on our Google+ Community, make sure you turn notifications on, so that you get alerted by email of new posts. You can do that up near the top of the Community page. If you see “Notifications off,” click it to change it to “Notifications on” as you see here:
2. Be a Twitter Lurker
If you don’t already have an account, please don’t create one just yet. Instead, first explore Twitter a bit as a lurker and give yourself time to think about a good username and photo/avatar. If you enter twitter.com, you will be asked to sign in or sign up. But, you can search Twitter without an account using this URL: search.twitter.com.
Once you enter that, you will see a search box. Start searching. I suggest starting with:
#tlchat: This is the hashtag used throughout the school library world to identify tweets of interest to teacher librarians. We’ll talk more about hashtags a later. When you search for this you will see a Top/All option at the top:
I like to select All to see all the tweets. Top tweets includes only tweets that have gotten attention with retweets, replies, and more.
Here are just three individual accounts for CSLA people to search. Just enter each in the Search Twitter box near the top right:
@jane_librarian – that’s me.
@sraslim – CSLA rockstar TL and Spanish Teacher Marie Slim
@sharlenepaxton – CSLA rockstar TL and Southern Region President Elect
Here are just a handful of the many national rockstar TLs to search:
Try to spend a few minutes searching at different times during the day or on a couple of different days so that you see a variety of postings. As you search, you’ll see a variety of items in the tweets. “Anatomy of Tweet,” “Menu Bar,” and “Twitter Vocabulary” below will help you understand some of the contents. Do click on any of the links to websites and images that interest you. If you click on a @handle, it will take you to that person’s tweets. Scroll down as far as you like, moving back in time as you do. Never feel obliged to go any further back in time than you like.
Anatomy of a Tweet
Here are two illustrations identifying some of the elements you will see as you browse through tweets:
Twitter Menu Bar
Here is what you will find when you use each of the Twitter menu bar options:
The Twitter timeline is all the tweets for people you follow or the search you performed, in reverse chronological order. Just browse through the display as far back as you care to go. By default, when you click Home at the top left of the screen, the timeline displays the people you follow.
Tweet Author and Tweet @Handle
When you set up your account, you will select a Full Name and a Username. They both appear in your tweets, and are often referred to as the account name and account @handle. In the examples above, my Full Name is janelofton and my @handle is jane_librarian, while Marie’s Full name is Marie Slim and her @handle is @sraslim. Some people have the same Full Name and Username, which makes life easier!
Hashtags are like keywords on steroids. They always start with #. They are not regulated, and anyone can create a hashtag on the fly for a topic, event, organization, cause, and more, but there are many well-established ones. For example, school library people typically include the #TLChat hashtag when tweeting about something of interest to school librarians. People can search for hashtags and thereby view tweets of people they don’t follow. You can also click on a hashtag in a tweet to automatically view search results for it. Hashtags are also often used during a conference, event, or for a live chat, to enable everyone attending – in person or virtually – to all participate in the same conversation.
Mentions and Replies
An important aspect of Twitter is conversations. You can engage people in conversation by mentioning them, i.e. including their @handle in your tweet. Even if they don’t follow you, they will receive a notification of the mention in their list of Notifications (one of the menu bar options). If you put the mention as the first text in your tweet, only the people who follow both you and the person will see it in their timelines (but it will still appear in hashtag searches). If you put it anywhere else in your tweet, everyone who follows you will see it.
If you see a tweet you would like to respond to directly, you can do so by clicking Reply () arrow at the bottom of the Tweet. Doing so automatically generates a tweet box with the tweeter’s handle at the beginning of your text.
Expanding beyond the 140 Characters
While tweets are restricted to 140 characters, there are lots of ways to pack in more content. Even “proper grammar and usage” fanatics like me take lots of liberties with texting abbreviations such as “4” for “for,” “u” for “you.” More important, though, is that you can tweet links to images and websites. During the course, we will also explore tools like bit.ly that allow you to make website links shorter.
Retweets and Favorites
If someone writes a tweet that you like, you can share it with your own followers by selecting the Retweet icon at the bottom of the Tweet.
This way of automatically retweeting is actually relatively new. In the past, you would copy the text and add RT and the tweeter’s handle at the beginning, as in this example:
I still actually prefer that method, since it gives me the opportunity to add a hashtag, comment, or other text to the tweet. The new, automatic method has the advantage of being quicker and of not using additional characters. Sometimes I want to create my own RT, but I can’t fit it into the 140-character limit. Another option is an MT, or “modified retweet.” MT lets readers know that you have made changes in the tweet. You might use an MT if you need to shorten the text to fit it and your new comment into the 140 character limit. Here’s an example of an MT:
A RT or MT not only spreads a tweet further; it is also a compliment to the original tweeter. Another way of complimenting a tweet is to Favorite it. Favoriting serves the dual purposes of complimenting the tweeter and saving the tweet in your list of favorites so you can find it again. To Favorite a tweet, click the Star icon to the right of the RT icon. You can view the tweets you have Favorited by going to your profile and selecting Favorites:
Direct Messages (DM’s)
Another Twitter feature is Direct Messages, or DM’s. Direct messages allow you to have a private conversation with another Tweeter. You can only send a DM to someone who follows you, and they can only DM you if you follow them. You can see and send Direct Messages from the Messages option on the menu bar. You can also create a DM by typing DM + the username (no @) at the beginning of a tweet. For example: DM sharlenepaxton …. Direct messages offer you an alternative to text messages on your phone.
3. Time to Create an Account!
Even if you already have an account, please read this section, as you may get some new ideas of how to handle your account.
You don’t need to rush on creating your account, but please complete this task before the end of the week.
Here’s a walkthrough of how to create your account, along with some important tips:
Go to twitter.com, then fill in the three items on the Sign up box:
Your Full Name doesn’t actually have to be your full name, but I would encourage you to make it a name that identifies you well. It will appear in all your tweets, and you can’t change it once your account is established.
Next, enter your email and a password. Please choose a robust password. Twitter accounts do occasionally get hacked. A good password will help protect you from hacking. Also, do go with a new password that you don’t use for any other account.
Once you click Sign up for Twitter, you will see this screen, with the three items you already entered filled in:
This is your last chance to change your Full Name, which appears in all your tweets. Twitter will also let you know if you already have an account with the email you gave. If you already have another account, you have several choices. You can, of course, skip this account creation and start using that account. If you really want a new, different account for a fresh start, you can use a different email for it, or, if you used Gmail as your email the first time, you can use the Gmail “trick” of adding a + and number or text after the Gmail name, as I have in the example above. Twitter will consider this a different email, but the email will actually still come to my Gmail account.
Twitter will also let you know here whether your password is robust enough. Please follow its advice and create a strong password!
Finally, you need to enter a username. That will be your @handle, which also appears in every tweet. While Twitter will allow more than one person to have the same Full name, the username or @handle (which always appears with a @ in front of it) must be unique. For example, my Full name, is janelofton, but my username or handle is @jane_librarian. If I had it to do over again, I would make these two the same. I can’t now, because someone else, who doesn’t even use her account, took the @janelofton handle. Take some time now to adjust your Full name and username/@handle to make them what you will be happy with down the line. I really recommend making both ones that clearly identify you, but you also don’t want your handle to be too long, since it takes up characters when other people include you in their tweets. Here are some more tips about choosing your username/@handle from Alice Keeler. (The post is about changing your @handle, but scroll down for the tips.)
After you complete this screen, the next screen asks you what you are interested in. By default, it selects Popular Accounts. You can change this to Technology or something else, but I am actually going to suggest skipping all the suggestions right now anyway. Just click Continue. On the next screen, you will see 40 suggestions for accounts to follow. Right now, I recommend that you just click the X to delete each of them, then Continue again. You will be finding plenty of good accounts to follow later.
The next screen is where you can upload a photo or what I referred to in the Anatomy of Tweet as your avatar:
You can skip this step right now if you really can’t decide on one, but, please make it a top priority to visit your profile and add one this week. You don’t want to be an egghead, the default image you see in the screenshot above. In general, that shows potential followers that you haven’t taken the time or effort to customize your account. Whether you should use an actual photo of yourself, or make or select an avatar, is a matter of choice. I went with an avatar way back in 2007 when I created my account (and also chose @jane_librarian as my handle), since I wasn’t ready at that time to be as public as I am now. Frankly, I didn’t even realize when I created the account that my Fullname would show in my tweets. I really love my avatar, so I have been reluctant to let it go, but I’d strongly recommend that you make your face clearly identifiable. That way, when you attend a conference and have a chance to meet members of your PLN live for the first time, they will more easily recognize you.
The next screen offers to Find people you know. I recommend skipping this step also. Look for the very small Skip this step in the bottom right. We’re almost there!
If you don’t receive it, look in your Spam. I recently noticed that all my Twitter-related emails having been going to my Spam folder! If you can’t find the confirmation, click the Resend confirmation in the top yellow bar that appears until your account is confirmed.
4. Adjust Your Account Settings
You don’t need to worry about too many of the settings just yet, but here is one thing to be sure to do right away:
- Enter a good biography:
- To do that, select the View Profile option. This will show you what other people will see when they search for you.
- Click the Edit Profile button on the right side of the screen.
- In the box below your @handle, type in a biographical statement. Be sure to include keywords that identify your job, interests, and expertise. People deciding whether to follow you will probably base their decision, at least in part, on this Bio.
- If you like, spend some time customizing your theme. This is also where you can upload a photo/avatar if you haven’t already.
- Check your Security and privacy settings
- Select Settings from the drop-down box, then select Security and Privacy on the left.
- Go over these settings and decide what you are comfortable with. I have chosen to leave my settings with the defaults, but you may want to opt for a bit more security and privacy.
- Please don’t set your account to protect your tweets. You can’t build a real personal learning network if you restrict your tweets only to people you approve as followers.
5. Tweet Your First Tweets
Before the week is over, please make a commitment to send at least two tweets. You will want tweets in your profile for Tweeters to see when they are considering following you. We’ll talk more next week about topics for tweets. Right now, you might simply tweet that you are taking this class, and share the link to the course site: learn2tweet.edublogs.org 🙂
6. Visit the Google+ Community and Add a Comment
Let’s make our Google+ Community where you can:
- Ask questions of me and other classmates
- Get to know each other
- Comment about what you are learning and discoveries you have made using Twitter
7. Thursday Google+ Hangout
On Thursday, January 8, we had a Google+ Hangout with Marie Slim, Sharlene Paxton, and me sharing why we love Twitter and some of our tips for using it. If you missed the live broadcast, do watch the recording: