What’s the point of Twitter? You hear about it on the news and in magazines and it seems to be something celebrities use to share information and useless facts with the world. But is there more to it?

The way that I explain it to people is that it all depends on who you follow. Think of it like the printed word. If you buy Heat or More magazines, you’ll learn about celebrity nonsense, if you read the sport section of the paper you’ll learn about Beckham’s foot injury or the further demise of Portsmouth. It’s the same with Twitter, follow celebrities and you’ll hear what they have to say, but follow teachers and a whole new world opens up.

I’ll admit that when I started, I followed people like Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) but I soon learnt to explore and find teachers instead. The best way to find people to follow is to look at the followers of someone you know. You can see who I follow and then check out these people and see if they are of interest to you as well. You will find people within Hampshire such as Phil Bagge (@baggiepr), Bruce Waelend (@htbruce) and Dave Whittle (@13scidave) and many more in the outside world too, teachers, deputies, head teachers and other various ICT folk.

To be honest, the first month or so is a bit weird. You see what looks like a few good ideas and lots of short websites and it can be overwhelming. An example is below, due to the 140 character limit, websites need to be short, but it looks confusing. Simon has referenced two websites. The first is a post on the school site saying how great the school leavers’ video was (the second link). From this one tweet, you can get an idea about letting children comment on your school website and also using a service such as vimeo to store videos. One simple tweet can encourage a number of ideas

Teachers often say to me “What if no-one listens?” or “I haven’t got anything interesting to say”. I always try to explain to teachers that someone somewhere will listen to you. As Lisa Stevens (@lisibo) said, “What seems like something simple and mundane for you could be a lightbulb moment for someone else”.

So how do you use it? There are three main ways of accessing Twitter. From the web, from your PC and from your phone. From the web, you can go to the Twitter website (www.twitter.com) and type in your messages and tweets. The downside is the constant need for refreshing the page.

From your PC, you can install software such as TweetDeck which will collate your tweets and organise them into columns and groups for you making it much easier to use.

On your phone, you can use a number of different apps such as Tweetdeck on Android or Twitterific or Echofon on Apple iphone. This helps to keep up to date with your tweets while on the move. For me, this is when I really started using Twitter, being able to check it at break or when I had 5 minutes spare was really useful and meant I was able to access CPD anytime.

Using Twitter is simple, to tweet, simply type a message in less that 140 characters and press send. Everyone’s username begins with @ so mine is @ianaddison. So if you wanted to say hello, simply type: Hello @ianaddison, I’m on Twitter. This will then be highlighted for me to see.

If someone says something that you want to pass on, re-tweet it. This involves copying their message, but putting RT at the start. This way people know it started somewhere else, like below.

This tweet came from Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) originally, but I wanted to pass it on to others.

That’s about it really, it can be addictive, and it can be a bit overwhelming at times, but it really is the best CPD resource I’ve ever used.

Why don’t you be brave and try it for yourself? Below, I have put a few people that you might want to follow.

@ianaddison – Ian Addison < That’ll be me

@simonhaughton – Primary school ICT manager

@deputymitchell – Deputy Headteacher

@baggiepr – Phil Bagge

@primarypete_ – A teacher in Preston

@SchoolDuggery – UK Education Matters

@Joga5 – A literacy advisor from Lincoln

@dughall – ICT Advisor

@charliedeane – Year 3 teacher in Petersfield (and my wife!)

If I haven’t mentioned you, it’s not because I don’t value your tweets, it’s just that I could only put a couple of people to get newbies started!!