Sunday, July 16, 2017

Network Building - Using Twitter

Highsight -
If you've read articles on this blog regularly, or are just visiting for the first time, my purpose is to help well-organized, volunteer-based tutor and mentor organizations grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities. That means I need to influence what resource providers, policy makers and other leaders do, as well as what volunteers and leaders of tutor/mentor programs do.

I do this by drawing attention to programs doing good work, such as Highsight, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this fall.  The image at the right is from their Winter2017 newsletter.

While I host this blog and a web library and share ideas on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, I don't have a staff or any dollars for advertising (since 2011), so to learn about programs, I follow them on social media and look at their web sites, using this list of Chicago area programs, which I've maintained since 1994.

I use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter regularly and feel that more useful research information is being shared regularly on my Twitter feed than what I see on my LinkedIn or Facebook feeds.  At the same time, by looking at the Facebook pages of local programs I'm able to stay informed by those who post regularly (not all do).  

Over the weekend I created a concept map to show conversations I have been following on Twitter, which are identified with a #hashtag.  Take a look.

With each node I've included a link which you can click and go to that Twitter feed.  I think that most people use #hashtags to draw people together for short term conversations, perhaps in support of a conference, meeting or on-line webinar.  I participate in these regularly, and actively share ideas from my own work while Tweeting and "liking" ideas posted by others. In every conversation I meet one or two new people who I follow, so I can see information they post regularly, or who follow me for the same purpose.

However, I also go back to these conversations regularly to see what people are talking about, and sharing with one of these #hashtags. By creating the concept map, I, or you, can easily click into several of these conversations any time you want.  I also use Tweetdeck, but it gets unmanageable if you're trying to keep track of as many conversations as I do.

Below is another map, showing on-line spaces where I've been connecting with others and sharing my own ideas. 
In both of these I included the graphic shown below, to illustrate the idea of our journey through time, or through social media, and how I purposefully try to attract others to follow me and the ideas I share on this blog, so more people are helping tutor/mentor programs grow in more places, and are helping each of those programs constantly find ways to expand their own influence.

I'm just one person, and thus my ability to attract others is limited. However, if many of us were trying to do this, we could build a growing army of followers and collaborators who work to help kids move through school and into careers.

Let me show this a bit differently.  One group that I've been connecting with since 2013 is composed of educators located throughout the United States and in other countries.  This is the Connected Learning group, using hashtag #clmooc.  

On any day you can click into the #clmooc link and follow the discussion thread to see what members are talking about. Or you can go to the group's web site, and find archives of past Twitter chats, a link to a G+ community, or announcements of upcoming activities. Kevin Hodgson, a middle school teacher from Western Massachusetts, does a nice job summarizing a recent #clmooc chat on his blog.

This morning when I looked at my Twitter feed I found the post below, from Terry Elliott, a college professor from Western Kentucky.

If you click into the video you'll see that Terry created an analysis of my activity within the #clmooc Twitter universe during one recent week.  He was aided by Sarah  Honeychurch, who works at the University of Glasggow, in Scotland.  The analysis is done using #TAGS, a free tool made available by Martin Hawksey, who is also from Scotland.

I would not know of these tools if I were not regularly following this group on Twitter.

I created this graphic several years ago to illustrate how difficult it is to figure out ways to reach kids with the help and support the each need so that more are moving safely and successfully through K-12 education and into adult lives.  Reaching kids in high poverty neighborhoods with programs that provide this support for many years, is an even greater challenge.

That's why we need to be connecting and learning from each other and why I'm on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook daily.  It's why I go to meetings and conferences in Chicago (when they are free). It's why I've been building a web library and sharing ideas from it for over 20 years.

Unfortunately, only a small number of the people who are involved with Chicago's volunteer-based tutor and mentor programs are actively engaged on Twitter.  Only handful of the people in my Facebook and Linkedin "friends" lists are using Twitter. Very few of the volunteers and students who have been part of the tutoring programs I led from 1975-2011 are using Twitter, or are actively using Facebook and/or Linkedin.

Or, they are actively using these spaces but have not reached out to connect with me or invite me to connect with them.

Tomorrow starts a new week. I'll continue my journey through social media. I hope you'll join me in one of these spaces or in one or more of these Twitter #hashtag conversations.  I'll be updating the #hashtag map on a regular basis as I'm drawn into new conversations.

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