The Power of Tweetdeck

Image Courtesy of CC
There are three applications I open up in the morning. My web browser with a number of pinned tabs. My staff email system "Firstclass" and finally, Tweetdeck. I started thinking about how effective the latter is because last night, some colleagues and I were rapping about which RSS feeds we were currently using. I use Digg for politics, Feedly for dozens of educational bloggers and flipboard when I'm in the mood for any and everything. Tweetdeck has become invaluable to me this year, as I've taken on a few projects that I haven't before.

What is Tweetdeck?
Tweetdeck organizes specific Twitter conversations, interactions or hash tags into a column type format on your desktop. You have to download to your computer, but once you do, you can just open it up to browse by subjects, or monitor ongoing conversations you are having with others. By just using Twitter, you sign on and see tweets from all the people you follow. If you want to see conversations, you have to click different icons on your twitter interface. Although many people sync Twitter with their email, Tweetdeck has them all in one place for easy access.

The Tweetdeck Dashboard. I have my timeline, interactions and two hashtags

How Does Tweetdeck Filter and Why Should I Use This?
Hashtags on Twitter filter certain conversations. Something my teaching partner and I are piloting this year is "Genius Hour". Rather than checking my Feedly feed every minute and hope that someone writes about Genius hour, Tweetdeck filters microblogging about the subject. Another thing that is my weak point is teaching chemistry. I am a strong teacher of biology and earth science, but physical science is a bit of a weak point for me, so I'm following a hashtag on Chemistry to help catch and collect resources and ideas related to the subject as I'm teaching a new chemistry class today. 


My Genius Hour Hashtag
Genius hour is a pilot program that my teaching partner and I are currently exploring. We're piloting it to see if it has tangible, quantifiable improvements to science education as a supplemental program that is sort of like a class IEP.  We're not the only teachers that are exploring this as well. Around the world, thousands of teachers are sharing their successes, resources and asking for help and offering it. By having #Geniushour as one of the columns I'm following, I've been able to follow conversations and grab resources related to this topic. I've come across an AWESOME infographic that I've been using to structure sessions and develop learning products. I've also connected with a number of other educators that are using student blogging like me to have students reflect on their learning. I've connected with about a dozen teachers and we have connected our student blogrolls and our students are starting to leave thoughtful comments on other students blogs on opposite sides of the world.

 By having #Geniushour as one of the columns I'm following, I've been able to follow conversations and grab resources related to this topic.


My Chemistry Hashtag
I'm teaching grade 7 chemistry which I haven't done before. As you can see in the picture to the right, one blogger has shared a great picture personalizing elements by their "Avenger Equliavent" Notice the pun with "Ironman"? Such are the resources falling through #chemistry. I've come across some great videos that I've gotten and some I show to my students the same day I find them.

The only people that are using #Geniushour are teachers, whereas #Chemistry may attract high school or college students lamenting on how poorly they did on their last Chemistry exam.

There is a downside with this hashtag. #Chemistry is bit general, and can attract a different demographic than #Geniushour. The only people that are using #Geniushour are teachers, whereas #Chemistry may attract high school or college students lamenting on how poorly they did on their last Chemistry exam. Still, some good material does find its way there.


The Bottom Line
Twitter is a community. Start as a lurker, but don't horde the great things you are doing. We're all collectively trying to educate the children of the world and we're amidst a time where our classrooms and teaching pedagogy is increasingly connected. Share your best practices so we can learn from you and help you learn.



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