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What Everyone Assumes You Know about Social Networking

posted: 5.15.09 by Traci Gardner

No matter how you’re using tools like Twitter and Facebook, there are a few things that every teacher should know. In fact, because you’re a writing teacher, everyone assumes that you know all about composing, regardless of the genre or how it’s published.

  • Go beyond the generic and everyday details. Remember how you tell students to be specific when they write? Follow that advice! Say something beyond the ordinary. Even if you’re only telling readers that you’ve checked out a new book from the library, you can add advice, a critique, or some suggestions. Post something special that makes your update worth reading. If you’re having trouble packing all that info into a single tweet, there are some simple ways to “Maximize the Use of Your 140 Characters.”
  • Be helpful to your readers. Audience is as important in social networking as it is in a persuasive essay. The more your entries and updates connect to your readers, the more likely those readers will be to follow your posts. The secret is simply to be useful to your readers. Share tips, point them to free classroom resources, and suggest new tools and sites that they can use. Give people a reason to come read the latest thing you’ve posted.
  • Link, but also comment. Include links to people, books, software, other web sites, and newspaper or journal articles. In Twitter, you can retweet what someone else says word-for-word, or rephrase the idea and use the via format. Also, add a word or two that explains why you’re passing it along. It’s just like introducing and explaining quotations in a research paper.
  • Be ready to explain and support your posts—online and in person. If you post your entries and updates publicly, anyone might ask you questions. Someone in your department might want to hear more or challenge your opinion. Be ready to reply online and in person.
  • Use tools and tricks that simplify the process. Posting your updates and entries could take up every moment you have. Fortunately there are ways to streamline the process. FriendFeed and Bebo are social networking aggregators that let you post your comments to multiple sites simply. The New York Times article “All You Need to Know to Twitter” and the ReadWriteWeb entry “Two New Ways to Update Facebook Pages without Using Facebook” suggest some other great tools.

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Categories: Teaching with Technology
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