Welcome to my Professional Learning blog.
My name is Matt Nicoll and I am a high school teacher in New Zealand, interested in improving the classroom experience for my students. I am open to trialing new approaches and hope to use this blog to reflect on my ideas and practices.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Why Tag Your Tweets??

Originally posted via the Christchurch Connected Educators' blog for Connected Educator Month 2014 (#CENZ14):

If you follow me on Twitter, you will see that I am a serial user of hashtags. What are hashtags? Why should you use them?


You will see from my tweets that I tag just about everything I say with at least one hashtag; these are the things like #ChchED, #scichatNZ and #edchatNZ:

So, a hashtag is a word or short phrase (without spaces between words) preceded by "#" that you add to your tweets. But why use them at all? I have a few reasons:
  1. Twitter Chats
  2. Specifying My Audience
  3. Building a Community


Before going too much further, it is important to point out that the power of hashtags can really only be exploited if you have a way to filter them. I was pointed in the direction of TweetDeck and have never looked back. I can set up "Search Columns" for each hashtag, making them easy to follow.

Here is a video that I found that has a wonderful overview of TweetDeck Columns, including hashtags and how to set up a Search Column:


My first introduction to (useful) employment of hashtags was when I was asked to take part in the 3rd-ever #edchatNZ chat. I had my #edchatNZ column set up, and the rest, as they say, is history. #edchatNZ has been the most useful source of regular PD that I have had for the last two years...and it is free (apart from the time spent ignoring my tolerant partner!).

Go looking for Twitter Chats that resonate with you. There are a lot out there; here are just a few:

  • #engchatNZ (English educators)
  • #mathschatNZ (Maths educators)
  • #scichatNZ (Science educators)
  • #midedchatnz (Year 7-10 educators)
  • #penzchat (PE/Health educators)
  • #aussieED

You will get amazing ideas and connect with amazing educators by taking part in these chats. If that seems a bit daunting (don't be ashamed of feeling like that - we all did at some stage!), read this post by Steve Mouldey about Twitter Chats:


I asked Danielle Myburgh (founder of #edchatNZ) what she thought I needed to include in this post, and she said, "It's how [people] find your stuff and how you find [people's] stuff." She mentioned that a hashtag was analogous to a paperclip.

If I tweet about Science education, I use #scichatNZ (and sometimes #edchatNZ too). If I tweet about something Christchurch-specific, I use #ChchED. You get the picture... People with these columns set up will notice these tweets; they do not get "lost" in the "noise" of the general Twitter feed (the "Home" column).


This all leads me to why I want YOU to use hashtags, please. Christchurch Connected Educators are using #ChchED to help build this community. If you have a question to ask, please tweet it using #ChchED. If you have a resource to share, please tweet it out there using #ChchED. If you are blogging, tweet about it using #ChchED. Help us build this community, and make sure the community knows about the amazing things you do. Thanks.