Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Manage Your Flock #edtech

I am in the process of tweaking my Twitter presentation to focus on it being used as a component of your PLN (Personal Learning Network) rather than as a classroom tool.   I still think Twitter can be a highly effective tool in the classroom but it is more likely to be the cornerstone of your PLN.  Twitter isn't just about having your voice heard or listening to others, it's about surrounding yourself with knowledge.  To make this happen you need to effectively manage who you follow.  Fortunately, FriendorFollow can help you with this process. 

Once logged in with your Twitter account, you have three tabs that you can use to analyze who you are following (but do not follow you), Fans (who follow you but you don't follow them), and your Friends (the people you are most interconnected with).  Each section allows you to sort the users by various categories (e.g., Username, Followers and Last Tweet).

This can help you determine if the people you follow are really adding value to your network.  Obviously, you shouldn't expect someone with a gazillion followers to follow you back - but they probably add value to your network.  However, if you started following someone a few years ago and they haven't tweeted since - do you really need to keep them in your network?  These are choices you need to make. You can follow as many people as you want but if there not adding value, why should you?

Next is the Fans tab - These are people who follow you but that you don't follow back.  I try to pay particular attention to these individuals.  Twitter has a way of suddenly unfollowing someone who is invaluable to your PLN.  This happened to me with @Stevekatz and @JOrech recently. By the way, if you don't already follow these two, you should.  Now if there are a bunch of people in this category who aren't regular Twitter users or are not members of the edtech community I often won't follow them back.  For example, my posting about Web 2.0 utilities may be of interest to a carpenter, but the information that the carpenter posts may not be of any value to me and I don't need to clutter my timeline with posts from that person.  This brings us to ratios.  I try to keep my followers to following ratio at about 50%.  I try to follow at least half the people that follow me.  That half needs to meet one of two qualifications.  They need to either be someone who is in a field or interest that matters to me and/or actively tweet about those things.  I may follow someone who tweets only once a year if that update contained valuable information.  If it was about their recipe for Chicken Gumbo, the can stay in that fan category.

And finally the Friends tab.  These are the people who you should feel most connected to.  The heart of your PLN and active members of the Twitterverse.  If you want to sort them by the different categories you certainly can just to analyze the data.  But these are the people that matter most to your growth and learning - because they are the one's you collaborate and connect with daily.

Another feature I should mention of FriendorFollow is you can export your lists as CSV files if you every find the need.
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