Thursday, 26 June 2014

6 ways to use Twitter for professional development

Twitter is transforming the way people communicate and share information online, and teachers are no exception. Join the blue bird revolution with these 6 ways to use Twitter as a valuable means of furthering your professional development.


1. Research articles and lighter reading

People tweet a wide range of reading materials - from scholarly articles to more popular write-ups, all ready to download and either be read ‘there and then’ or to save for future reflection or study.

A great way to find content is to search for relevant hashtags – for example, #achievementgap or #flipclass. Searching a hashtag aggregates tweets that have used it and shows the ‘top’ tweets – those with the most interaction. 

This page on provides a really comprehensive list of education hashtags to get you started with your search.

2. Reports and data – headlines and ‘best bits’

Reports and report summaries are frequently tweeted by teachers and other education professionals. Helpfully, they will often highlight 'headliner' findings or statistics in their tweet and then provide the link to the full document.

Follow the right people and you'll get updates from the OECD, PISA and Ofsted as well as analysis from VIP commentators such as Andreas Schleicher (OECD) or Pasi Sahlberg (Finland) and interpretations of the new curriculum.

The education community on Twitter is an accommodating sort – tweet a request for something and chances are someone will provide it. Ask for ‘retweets’ to get your requests circulated more widely in order to improve your chances of finding what you’re looking for.

3. Conference tweeting

It is increasingly possible to participate in a conference quite comprehensively without actually attending it. Delegates will tweet throughout the conference, sharing quotes, ideas, personal thoughts, photos and even videos. 

Most conferences these days use a hashtag - for example, #Bett2014 or #Frog14 - which will allow you to keep track of the day's highlights, even if you're not there!

At the end of the conference, speakers will often tweet links to their presentations and even videos of their speeches. Make sure you know who's speaking and follow them beforehand.

4. Blogs and new posts

Twitter can be a bit narcissistic at times, with many people sharing this season's online accessory - a blog. Some are good (like this one, we hope!) and some are a bit rubbish. Rummage through the self-promotion though and you'll find some real gems.

People will tweet new posts as they go up, but will often share older posts if relevant to current debate. Also, look out for people recommending other educators' blog posts as they are more likely to be worth reading.

Twitter is a great place to share your own blog. Include 'Share a link' buttons in each of your posts to make it easier for your readers to share your content (like the one at the top of this post... hint hint). You can create the code for the button here. Simply adjust the options to your liking and copy the resulting code into the HTML of your blog post.

5. Planned discussions and spontaneous debate

Twitter users can engage in a variety of planned, themed and timed discussions. Here, individuals and groups arrange to take part in a discussion about a particular topic. To get in on the conversation, people use a pre-agreed hashtag, for example, #eduleaders or #pblchat, on a particular day at a particular time.

You can find a comprehensive list of education Twitter chats and their times here.

Apart from the planned discussions, fierce debates and arguments can often arise quite spontaneously. There are arguments all the time about issues to do with Ofsted, free schools and lesson observation.

You can take part in these chats - both planned and spontaneous - or simply take a ring-side seat and watch it unfold. Don't be afraid to participate, but if you do, remember to include the correct hashtag or else other participants won't see your tweet.

Tools like Tweetdeck, Tweetchat, or Twubs will help you follow the chat. On a mobile device, you may find an app like Hootsuite to be helpful.

6. Resources

On Twitter you'll find suggestions for education apps and websites, teaching tools, activities, teaching approaches and games, old-fashioned ideas as well as those using the latest technology. You'll also find a range of printable lesson plans, worksheets and other resources for use in the classroom. It's impossible not to find something inspiring!

Follow us @TeachingTimes for a range of resources and freebies. Also, sign up to TeachingTimes Report, a free fortnightly e-newsletter, which always features something cool for free - from magazine articles to report summaries to lesson plans.


This post is based on the article, 'Using Twitter for professional development', by Jane Jones, published in volume 6.1 of School Leadership Today. You can download the full article here.

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