Teacher Twitter Tips – Spotlight: Hashtags

Twitter is a great resource for teachers, but wading through the stream of 140-character thought bursts can be daunting. In this first part of our two part series on Teacher Twitter Tips, we present a few of our favorite hastags for teachers.

First Things First
Timeliness – As we post this article, it’s 11/6/2011 at 8:03PM Eastern Time.  Over the next month, weeks, and even hours the twitter landscape will evolve.  Some hashtags will become more popular, some less, but for now this is a good place to start.

Basics – There are lots of articles and guides to help you learn Twitter etiquette and answer questions about basic functionality.  This is not one of those articles.  We’re not going to cover the basics too much here; rather, we’ll cover specifics.

Hashtags: Defined
Hashtags are a fundamental component of information gathering and sharing on Twitter.  They’re a useful way of categorizing tweets for a specific audience.  There’s really nothing special about hashtags other than the fact that they all start with the pound sign (#) and are followed by a contextual tag word or phrase. By adding a hashtag to a tweet, a user is essentially marking their tweet for other users to find via twitter search.  By searching for a particular hashtag, a searcher can find all the tweets that relate to a topic of interest.

Example: @User1 tweets an interesting tidbit on the Occupy Wall Street movement and adds the hashtag “#Occupy” to the end of their tweet.  By doing this @User1 is tagging their tweet for others to find.  A few moments later, @User2 who may be interested in learning more about Occupy Wall Street, can search for “#Occupy” and see all the recent tweets with that hashtag including the tweet by @User1. 

Hopefully you can see the power of hashtags. For more information on hashtag usage or up-to-date information on some of the more popular hastags, check out Hashtags.org.

Hot Hashtags
Without further adieu, here are a few of Math Chimp’s favorite hashtags at the moment!

#education, as you may have guessed, is the broadest hashtag for educational topics and it’s most likely not what you’re looking for.  It makes for a nice news feed, though, consisting of a stream of stories from the major news outlets and random posts from users trying to cast a wide net across the Twitterverse.  Since it’s an easy hashtag to guess and one you’ve likely already visited, we’ll move on…

#edtech is used heavily as well.  It stands for “Educational Technology” and while there are a few hashtags covering that topic, #edtech probably receives the most traffic.  #edtech is very broad for what could be a narrow topic.  It covers more than classroom technology, and includes topics like elearning (which is also a popular hashtag), new hardware, technology-based outreach activities, and educational gaming.

#elemed is a niche hashtag that gets a few tweets each day.  It’s one of our favorite hashtags because it’s so specific. Followed mostly by school twitter accounts, this hashtag doesn’t seem to have dedicated tweeters, which ends up being a weakness.  Without a loyal following, content threads are weak and the conversation evolves slowly. However, we’d rather get a few tweets that are highly relevant than a slew of tweets that don’t apply to us.

If you have favorite hashtags let us know about them — comment below with your twitter name and we’ll #followback so you can show us the way!

- Harry