A useful way to make contact with like-minded people is to use a microblogging site such as Twitter (Carpenter & Krutka, 2014) or Tumblr. However, millions of posts are made every day to microblogging sites, so it is important to think about how you want to engage and manage your interactions. You may find the following actions useful:
- Gather information on a particular subject. Make a list of keywords or hashtags to search for. Hashtags may be long or short. They start with the hash symbol (#) and can include phrases and acronyms, but without spaces, for example #DigitalUniversity or #OpenLearn.
- Follow and learn from experts in a particular subject. List the names of the experts to search for.
- Look at the profiles of experts to see who they follow. A lot of the people they follow are likely to be of interest to you.
- Make connections with people in a similar position to yourself. Think of ideas about how you might find those people – how will you search for them? You may need to combine some keywords or hashtags into a single search, enabling you to filter out information that is related, but not precisely what you are looking for.
- Share your own work. Identify precisely which items you would like to share, list some keywords and hashtags that might describe your work, and practise creating a short microblogging message that describes your work succinctly.
Services such as Twitter are relatively easy to use. The instructions below will help you to maximise the benefits of Twitter. If you use a different tool the same principles apply, but you will need to alter the method and tools to suit your platform.
- Create an account on .
- Use your Twitter account to register with TweetDeck. TweetDeck is a very good way to make sense of the vast amount of information on Twitter and helps you to arrange the information you need in easily managed columns.
- Use the search function in TweetDeck to generate new columns relating to your keywords or hashtags of interest, or search for experts and follow them – all tweets from accounts that you follow will appear in your Home column in TweetDeck in chronological order.
- If you are looking for peers, first find and follow likely people – they may well follow you back (it is good Twitter etiquette to follow individuals who follow you). When you are familiar with each other’s tweets, you could suggest forming a List (a column in your TweetDeck that gathers tweets from selected individuals which others can subscribe to).
- If you want to share your own work, learn from how others do it. Observe how they use their tweets, how they ask for feedback or for others to retweet them. Aim to build a good number of followers before sharing your work so that their retweets will increase your reach.
Activity 4 Sharing information
Think again about the professional networks and communities you already belong to (formal and informal) and consider how these communities share information. What tools do they use? How do you decide which information can be trusted?
Pick one example. How could they use other channels or social media to improve the flow of information?
This activity helps you to develop as a networked individual. It should help you to identify how you could make use of the networks and communities available to you to inform and improve your online practice. When you have completed this course these connections will enable you to keep developing your practice.