Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Teachers: Get addicted to Hash...Tags

     No not that Hash, I'm talking Twitter Hash.  Hashtags are to Twitter like Tabs are to a filing cabinet   They categorize & highlight tweets that correspond to similar topics.  The difference is they allow you to follow conversations live by following the hash or you can always search the hash later, its the best of both worlds.

     Many educators have created Hashtags specifically for their classroom so that students can ask questions, find answers, & get news/announcements.  Most school districts, businesses, & organizations have also created hashtags to promote & get information out quickly.  By adding a # it simply helps others find relevant information quicker or perhaps come across info they may not have thought to search for.  

How is using Twitter to search any better than Google?

     This is a question I often get so I'll give a couple reasons I feel it has advantages, although I'll be quick to note I still use Google as well.  They are both search tools (although Twitter is more of a search & provide tool) & have value.  Compare it to a set of pliers or a wrench.  Sometimes they can be used it ways that are similar, but both function as tools & can be used as needed.
  1. As mentioned above Twitter is also a provide tool.  If you get used to using it to search you will find, that more often than not, ideas you didn't even know to look for will come to you instead of you searching for them.  Saving time & sparking your imagination as an educator.
  2. When you search in Google you have to use the exact term or phrase & only those items are found in your search.  On twitter if you get used to relevant hashtags you will be exposed to ideas & resources you might not have ever found or searched for.  Using subject or grade level specific #'s will ignite your creativity.
  3. Finally when you search Twitter you are finding an idea that has often been Tweeted out there by another educator.  You have the unique opportunity to tweet back questions, ideas, or thoughts & get real feedback...quickly. Those types of connections are still fairly unique to Twitter because of the ease of which you can connect.  The more you search, the more you add to your Personal Learning Network (PLN), the more connections you will eventually have to help your students excel.
     If you are interested you can look up or create your own HashTags at TagDef. As an example check out my Reynoldsburg Professional Learning Community Hash defined there as #RPLC.  You cannot own a # per-say, but if you define it & claim it this helps others be aware & not double use something already in existence.  Here are what I consider to be ten of the top Educational Hashtags out there:

1- #edtech
This is one of my favorite hashtags on Twitter. It provides you with news, tips, tools.....etc on the use of technology in education

2-#edapp
If you are interested in discovering and learning more about the use of educational apps in teaching, edapp is a hashtag to follow.

3-#edchat
This is one of the most popular hashtags in education and it is a great way for you to meet other teachers from all around the world and stay updated about the trending topics in education. Edchat is also a weekly chat that takes place on Tuesdays, for more info checl out the article #Edchat – the new Teacher Movement on Twitter

4-#ohedchat
See above except this hash is specifically for Ohio teachers, other states/countries may have something similar. Explore what is relevant to you. The actual chat takes place on Mondays at 9 pm.

5-#edreform
This one stands for education reform and it speaks for itself , when you join this chat you will have the chance to explore what educators are sharing on educational issues.

6-#elearning
Using this hashtag you can connect with other people interested in online and electronic learning and also distance learning.

7-#edtools
This hashtag is where you will find all kinds of web 2.0 tools pertaining to education.

8-#stem
This is a hashtag that allows you to stay updated about the issues related to science, technology and education.

9-#ntchat
This is hashtag created by Edutopia last May it stands for New Teacher chat. The actual chat takes place Wednesday nights at 8 pm.

10-#k12
This hashtag is short & simple making it an easy add at the end of anything that relates to K12 education.

Other notables hashes include subject or grade specific tags like #sschat, #elachat, #scichat, #mathchat, & #elemchat. For more info & hashtag knowledge check out these three sites & the Hashtag infographic below. Happy Hashing, hope you get addicted!