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Get Your #Hashtag On

If you are new to Social Media, hashtags may not seem important or useful.  The reality is, they are an integral part of our online communication.  

What is a #hashtag you ask?   

A hashtag starts with the pound symbol (#) and is followed by a single word (or words smashed together), no spaces.

The use of hashtags began with Twitter and has expanded to other forms of Social Media.  The ability to search, organize and track a particular topic has made them beneficial in both social, educational and business settings.  WIth over 3 million users on Twitter, hashtags are an efficient way to find more information about topics you are interested in.   

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When hashtags are used, they are kind of like subject lines of emails. They help you focus on the topic of the post. When we hear about things “trending” often what that refers to are the popular use of specific hashtags. For example on any given Thursday the popularity of the hashtag #tbt (throw back Thursday) tends to go up as people post there retro pictures.

 Education related hashtags are some of the most useful in the “Twittersphere”. When a tweet comes out containing an educational hashtag, that is basically saying “hey this tweet is not some inane statement about going to Starbucks, it’s about something related to teaching”. And often with these tweets there will also be a link to take you to some sort of resource. Click on any of the hashtags below to see how people are using them (no Twitter account required)

#edchat - this is the most widely used hashtag in education.  It is a great way to keep current and see what people are talking about.
#edtech – this covers a spectrum of topics focused on embedding technology into your classroom.  
#mathchat - this is used for math related educational posts. You might think it might be more efficient to just use #math but as it turns out a lot of people don’t like math and are happy to say it on Twitter.
#scichat - find out what educators are sharing about science with this hashtag
#engchat - as you probably guessed, this hashtag goes with educational posts about teaching english.
#wectec - the hashtag that will be used on Feb 14 and on for WECDSB tec discussions
#bit15 - this hashtag facilitates the integration of new computing technology into the educational curriculum
These are just a few examples of educational hashtags. In many ways, these can be more useful to follow than people. With people you get all of their conversations. With these hashtags you get a lot of resources.  The #hashtag is your friend.
Another way that hashtags are used are for what is called the “back channel” at conferences or workshops.  This sometimes comes in the form of people Tweeting out interesting things they have heard or seen.  Other times it is an actual conversation happening between those attending the conference and those following the hashtag.
Here are a few examples of “back channel” conversations:
#OAME2015 - annual Ontario math conference
#STAO2015 - annual Ontario science conference.
Social Media is an excellent place to expand your personal learning network (PLN).  Your PLN can be as large or small as you like.  Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are just a few methods that can be used to network with educators across the globe.  Hashtags can help you identify people with common interests.

We plan on using Social Networking platforms more and more at the WECDSB to help facilitate great ideas and professional connections.  Ready to get started? Click on the any of the links below to expand your online professional profile.  

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