When TLN Forum member Ellen B. asked about using Twitter with parents, tech-besotted Bill Ferriter, The Tempered Radical, had some good thoughts.
I have been thinking about how easy it would be to keep in communication about my classroom with Twitter. What I'd like is feedback and/or stories about how it's worked for you.
1. Have you tried using Twitter with parents? How did that work for you?
2. Is there a downside, provided I have a school-only Twitter account?
I'm not looking to replace the other ways I communicate with parents, but I am looking to expand it beyond relying on my 8th graders to get papers home in a timely manner. Are there other ideas that have worked better for you?
Twitter On, Ellen! While I'm not Twittering with parents yet---I don't want to have separate accounts for personal and professional use--it's definitely an idea worth pursuing because it's easy times ten for you. The messages that you post in Twitter are short, so it won't take you much time to update parents, and there is no concrete, direct way for people to reply---so you're not generating a ton of responses that you've got to spend time answering.
The other thing that I love is that you can Twitter from anywhere--including most phones--so posting the last minute thing that you think of after you shut down your computer and walk out the door is no sweat at all. The process of making updates is so much easier -- and the expectation for volume of content is so much lower than a teacher website -- that the process of communicating is no longer intimidating.
Another benefit is that parents don't have to be Twittering to follow your update. All Twitter users have their own publicly available page where people can read their Tweets. Here's mine:
So parents could just bookmark that page and see your updates right away. And each Twitter page has it's own RSS feed, so if you have any tech savvy parents who are using feed readers, they can get your updates automatically.
What barriers can I see? The only one that pops to mind is that parents who are Twitter users can flame you in the @replies section if they wanted to--and those @replies can be seen by a broader community of people than the email blasts that parents pop off every now and then.
But that risk isn't prevented by NOT having a Twitter account for class updates. Parents using Twitter---or writing blogs, or talking at the grocery store, or sending email, or using short-wave radio (I know, I know, I'm exaggerating)---can always find ways to criticize teachers if they want to.
So in the end, I say go for it!