My 30 Day Twitter Challenge by Ryan Bretag

I don't know if it was the basketball player tweeting at halftime, the overnight sensation of Twitter being used by Fox News ALL THE TIME, the Hudson Bay plane crash, or the masthead of the Chicago Tribune that caused me to stop in my tracks, shake my head, and realize that Twitter is mainstream.

Honestly, Twitter is all over these days but an odd feeling still comes over me when I hear Twitter used in so many spots. After all, it seems like yesterday Jeff Utecht and I were trying to wrap our brain around a category for it just to better understand how to explain it to people that looked at us as nuts when we said "we're tweeting".

At the same time, people still struggle with the point of it, the seemingly ridiculous nature of updating what you are doing in 140 characters or less.

Yes, they might sign-up because they are at a conference or workshop, but there seems to be a number (maybe just what I've seen) that never really embrace it, never really make it a part of their learning community/network.

While there are many reasons for this, keeping Twitter as a random, "stop in when I can" website keeps it foreign and somewhat odd for many. This makes it is really difficult to experience the power of connecting, contributing, sharing, and always on learning.

Thus, my challenge to those of you exploring the potential of Twitter, those of you promoting Twitter (share this approach), or those of you that have dismissed it in the past is to do the following things for 30 days and then (re)evaluate the value of Twitter:

  1. Follow 100 people from the following lists of educators: Twitter4Teachers, Director of Learning Professionals, Top 100 Edu Tweeters
    Yes, 100 people sounds like a lot but you need to immerse yourself in a loud enough crowd. Be sure to be diverse in your selection including a global focus.
  2. Download and run TweetDeck on your computer as a means of having Twitter always on.
    This is the critical step. It allows you to engage synchronously and asynchronously
  3. Understand and engage with the following Twitter Basics:
    @ - when placed in front of a twitter name, it allows the person to see a reply to them under Replies
    RT: - you this to retweat a tweet that is worthy of sending again
    # - hash tags to track specific conversations (try #ascd in Twitter Search to see what I mean)
    DM - Direct Message users for private messages
  4. Post at least 5 Tweets a day: something great (or a struggle) from your teaching/leading/learning that day, a question for the day, something that displays your personality and interests, and two replies to Tweets from others
  5. Optional: Utilize some of the great Twitter Apps that make the experience that much richer: Top 10 Twitter Apps for iPhone, Mr. Tweet, TwitterEarth, Twist, or some of these other great tools.

In the next 30 days, embrace Twitter as something more than just a random spot to visit on the web. Turn on the network and see what it can do for you by embracing this 30 Day Challenge! You'll be happy you did.

Talk to you on Twitter,