This semester I’m seeing momentum across Indiana as more school district eLearning coaches, technology directors and building leaders bring staff members into the Twittersphere. Schools and districts are establishing their hashtags and holding various forms of chats around professional learning, community partnerships and vision. It’s pretty amazing.
I’m not impressed by colleagues who are helping handfuls of new Twitter users set up accounts. I’m wowed by how they are designing meaningful ways for new users to purposely engage in this social media community. After all, setting up your Twitter account is little more than buying your ticket to an amazing conference. You’ve simply registered. The interactions that will develop into relationships and the experience that will transform the way you look at things have yet to occur.
But that ticket in your hand can make a difference. Like so many, I created my Twitter profile while at such a conference. I used the hashtag. I retweeted others. I left as an egg with my colleagues and a few random conference attendees as followers–all of whom I followed in return. Nearly a year later, I was headed to another conference. I broke out of the egg; replacing it with an avatar. I don’t know if I took the cue from having read somewhere that it was better than using a personal photo or if it was because my Twitterstream was a mix of Simpson-like images and personalized Nerdy Kids. Either way, I felt identifiable. And for a long time, my Twitter profile went unchanged. I’d occasionally update the bio text, but by and large it stayed the same. Stagnant.
Then two things happened. Tom Whitby told me that he wouldn’t follow me. Sting. Ouch. And yes, he said it right to my face. Whitby, who I’d been following from the early years, was presenting at one of the Summer of eLearning Conferences where several Indiana educators had the opportunity to learn from him and other Twitter greats like Shelly Terrell, Kyle Pace, The Nerdy Teacher and TeacherCast (all offering examples of comprehensive Twitter profiles). Anyway, Whitby’s advice: Tell me you’re an educator. Let me know that I need to be following you. He was very direct, but still nice about it. I thought I had done that, but clearly I hadn’t, so back to the bio I went.
A few months later, at yet another conference, a fellow attendee suggested everyone switch their profile image to a photo of themselves that morning so that we could find each other. I was really torn. I did not want to get rid of my running girl in pink. Not only was she the brand for a movement I support, she’d been my Twitter identity for years…years. I was conflicted. As part of the #INeLearn community, I did want to connect in person with the educators I’d been having great conversations with for the last year. Since I couldn’t find another solution, I sucked it up and took a selfie. I wasn’t completely ready to let go of my old brand, so I pasted her in the corner of the image and updated my profile once again.
Even now, I’m not entirely satisfied with my profile bio and I can easily be convinced to change the image anytime, so it’s an ongoing work in progress for me. I tell you these stories because they are part of why I’m encouraging Twitter users to complete a simple 5 Point Check of their profiles. This activity will be part of a session I’m developing on “Twitter as CTD: Colossal Time Drain or Connected Teacher’s Dream”. As a moderator for #INeLearn, I’m always checking out educators’ Twitter profiles; looking for clues as to whether or not I should follow them and what Twitter lists they can be added to. If you have completed 1-4 of the 5 Point Check, it will make my job a lot easier and may even result in you getting more follows!