Reasons to Tweet: a view from a secondary school careers co-ordinator

Thanks to Andrea Shieber for today’s guest post on the value of using Twitter in careers work. You can follow Andrea on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/ceiag

@jkrums http://twitpic.com/135xa – There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.

When Captain Chesley Sullenberger miraculously landed flight 1549 in the Hudson on 15 January 2009, it was citizen reporters –  ordinary people with 3G phones  – who broke the news and published the first dramatic images of passengers standing on the wing via Twitter. I was hooked by the power and immediacy of such a seemingly simple little microblogging tool and within a month I had set up an account and posted my first tweet.

Any suggestions for promoting Engineering as a degree option to grammar school girls?

Andrea_shieber

I had no official approval to tweet on behalf of the school so I set up my @CEIAG account without attributing the school’s name to my twitter name or profile.  I work in a team of one most of the time at school and rarely have people around me with whom I can bounce ideas around or ask questions and this can prove to be an isolating experience. The big temptation when I posted my first @CEIAG tweet was to reach out into the twitterverse and ask a question. I received a constructive response and quickly began to appreciate the value of Twitter as a means to enable collaboration.

@PaulMeadway great! Thanks for this and RT. Hav printed details of deloitte scheme & passed to student

Tweeters who work in schools are harder to find, chiefly I suspect, because so few schools and colleges permit the use of social networking sites on their networks but within a few months I found someone working in a college in Hull with similar responsibilities to mine and we began an intermittent exchange of tweets that led to an on-going exchange of emails. We share regular newsletters as well as details of the careers events that we each run in our institutions.  I hope in time that more local authorities and schools will embrace the opportunities social networking affords to staff and students rather than slamming the door shut on it all for fear of what may happen.  Seeing how many job/internship and other opportunities for young people are promoted via twitter, it is clear that there is enormous benefit to be gained in educating our students on how to harness the power of Twitter (as well as other sites such as LinkedIn). I’m sure other members of staff in my school would reap benefits too with the wider network of colleagues and subject professionals available to them via Twitter. However, I’m aware that often it’s not just the barrier of school network access that stands between school/college staff and Twitter – with a large generation of staff members who are digital immigrants, there are many who find the whole concept of 3G phones, mobile devices and social networking to be too alien!  A digital immigrant myself, I think I have a slight advantage in having 10 years of experience working in the IT industry coupled with two teenage sons to keep me up to speed with developments in technology and lingo! But Twitter isn’t difficult and you don’t need to be a techno-whizz to be able to use it (unlike the new convoluted blu-ray player and 3D television set-up my geeky husband has recently inflicted upon me…) Nonetheless, it’s possible there’s more than just a block on the school’s internet proxy server to Twitter!

Am producing weekly careers bulletin during term time for yrs 13/12/11 at http://bit.ly/e5gJ2Y

These look good! Ceg/pshe lesson plans from NHS http://www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/explore_teachers_lesson-plans-1-10.shtml

To really reap the benefits of Twitter, I try to build a two way relationship with as many of my twitter followers as possible, sharing links, news items and relevant web resources as well as information about the work I do in school. The more I post and the more people I follow in my field of interest, the more followers I gain and the more information and news becomes available to me.

@billaw life role relevance sounds great. Think SLT are leaning towards lifeskills at the moment but will add LiRRic to the mix. Thanks!

@davidawinter hav just read your post. Really interesting! Love image of sculptor. Meandering, yes! & recognising opp’y, seeing potential

Twitter enables direct access to careers professionals working across the UK and beyond opening up opportunities for continuing professional development. Many twitter profiles link to websites and blogs with a wealth of news, academic comment and insight into developments in education policy, career theory etc. Having finished my Certificate in Careers Education and Guidance with Canterbury Christ Church University, this is a really accessible (and low-cost!) way for me to keep learning.

RT @FMWF: Wind power brings jobs boost to UK: Britain’s world-leading position in offshore wind energy will mean the creat…http://bit.ly/ehaJpja

RT @notgoingtouni: Free magazine that explains everything to do with apprenticeships http://ow.ly/3Oc9c

One of the biggest advantages of following my Twitter feed, is access to high quality, relevant careers information that I can share with students on a weekly basis via the careers bulletins that I produce and distribute by email.  I follow more than 500 twitter accounts, which might sound daunting, but anytime I find myself waiting for an appointment, sitting on a train, drinking coffee etc etc, I scroll through the feed on my iPhone, laptop or work computer and pick out posts to retweet and/or share with students. The easiest way I find is to mark interesting tweets with the little yellow ‘favourite’ star – this generates a convenient list of posts that I can explore further and/or include in my bulletin during the designated time I set aside each week. Or I visit http://tweetbook.in/tweetbook.php to create a PDF booklet of all  my tweets and/or favourites which I can then save, print and share by email if I want to. Twitter is an invaluable source of current Labour Market Information (LMI) with universities, sector skills councils and professional bodies tweeting posts that can help students gain an insight into where the jobs might be when they leave school or graduate. 

@pigironjoe Good to meet you toon and enjoyed “careering through the web”! Am no academic but will give it a go – anything in partic?

I attended the CRAC careers conference in Leicester last month and introduced myself to an unsuspecting Tristram Hooley after he delivered a workshop encouraging careers professionals, and their students, to become more digitally literate. He invited me to contribute a post for his blog on why I tweet and in the hope that this may encourage more careers professionals working in schools to join me, here’s my contribution. Although of course, how those who don’t tweet or read blog p
osts will benefit, I’m not entirely sure but here’s hoping!

Andrea Shieber
Careers Co-ordinator in a secondary grammar school in East Kent
@CEIAG

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