I’m wondering whether services like TwitterTim.es might hold the key to getting the teachers at my school to really understand the power of Twitter. Recently I have been a little obsessed with the disconnect between the obvious potential of having an online PLN and the difficulty getting most teachers to commit to building a PLN. In particular I am trying to help get an Independent School Ning up and running in BC, but in general I am trying to help as many teachers at my school as possible realise the potential of the internet. The biggest barrier that I am coming up against is TIME. Everyone is just too busy to check Twitter a few times a day, or open their RSS reader, or even read that extra email in their inbox. This is where I think a site like TwitterTime.es might be really useful; I imagine setting up a session at my school in which I guide the teachers through setting up a Twitter account and following a critical mass of educators with similar interests (I’m still not sure what that critical mass is), then all they have to do is create a TwitterTim.es page for their account that they can check for the latest news and resources whenever it is convenient.
There are still two difficulties with this scenario. The first is that Twitter is a lot more than just a fancy real-time newspaper. It is about conversation, it is about relationships, and it is about collaboration. These are (in my opinion) the real benefits that I want teachers at my school to understand, but I am starting to wonder whether it might be enough to start by helping them become “Power Lurkers” and hope that once they have some idea of the potential of online community they will be motivated to delve in more deeply.
The other difficulty is the act of ‘following a critical mass of educators with similar interests’. This took me about two years of messing about with Twitter and I think I was relatively successful for two reasons: 1) I like messing around with new tools and 2) my area of interest in Ed Tech and there are lots of Ed Tech people on Twitter. What I want to figure out is how to harness Twitter Lists and Twitter Directories like Twitr and TweepML to help anybody with any interest find people to follow on Twitter.
I have tried to do it for my brother who has an interest in Oceanography and couldn’t find any useful lists to follow. I also tried searching Twitter for ‘Oceanography’, but again came up short. I finally typed ‘Oceanography Twitter’ into Google and got a few hits. By then working through the follower and following lists of the profiles I found I was able to find 20 or so people and organisations that might interest someone in Oceanography, but it was tough going and I can’t really imagine most people bothering. During this process it occurred to me that finding good people to follow has less to do with subject matter and more to do with common interests. I think if I can nail down my brother’s interests I might have more luck helping him get started.
Twitter4Teachers is another good resource and I guess a teacher would probably have good success clicking through this wiki to find followers, but still it takes TIME. Eventually shouldn’t we all just be able to find a few good lists of people with similar interests and be a couple clicks away from being ‘Power Lurkers”?
So what is the quickest way to find people with similar interests to follow? And do you think that sites like TwitterTim.es might get more people interested in Twitter?
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