Confession: Sometimes Twitter needs good metaphor (1)

Surian Soosay via Flickr

Today I volunteered myself to be a “Twitter Ambassador” at the ASCD L2L (leader to leader) conference (#ASCDL2L). In helping a fellow educator understand the power of Twitter as well as all of its related mobile and aggregation applications, I sometimes found myself grasping for clarity. Then, my English-teacher brain kicked in as I began to create metaphors to describe the functionality of hashtags, HootSuite, Storify, and twitter chats. So I am going to write a series of posts on these metaphors to help educators who are new to Twitter wrap their mind around HOW to use it in their school environments.

Metaphor 1: Twitter Hashtag= Whiteboard 


Situation: You are a principal who wants to spread a message or article to your faculty, but you also want them to share reactions and responses to this message in a public way.

Luddite (Old-School) Solution: You install a whiteboard outside of your office. Every day you write a message on that whiteboard and ask faculty members to walk to the office every day to read this message and then write their own response underneath it.


Twitter (Technology) Solution: You create a unique hashtag on Twitter that includes your school name or some other easily identifiable word related to your school or school culture.

Examples: #WhitefordTeachers (less characters #WhitefordTchrs)     #LionFaculty



Now you share that hashtag with your teachers and ask them to enter that hashtag into their search bar on Twitter. This is like asking them to walk down to your office to view the message or article you posted on the whiteboard. Rather than walking though, they just find the conversation via the search bar and hashtag.

Then, using the hashtag at the end of your tweet, you post your prompt, article (via link), or question to Twitter. Now your faculty can see that tweet and using the same unique hashtag in their own tweet, formulate responses. In real time faculty have a public discussion on Twitter. Better than a stampede to the office whiteboard and waiting in line with the Expo marker, right?

For a classroom teacher, the parallels are obvious. Instead of using the whiteboard at the front of the room with sticky notes, a teacher whose student’s have access to technology could use Twitter for a classroom discussion. Now this obviously comes with greater consideration because teachers are dealing with minors and potential technology shortages; however, the metaphor still could help teacher Twitter Newbies to understand the potential power of a hashtag for discussion. 

Up next: Using HootSuite to organize your Twitter conversations…and after that how to archive the great Tweets for future reference! 

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