Jump ahead to NETA (our state ed tech conference) 2011 - slowly there had become pockets of Twitter usage creeping up around the state. For the second year in a row, we had our own "official" hashtag, but use of #neta11 was a slow drip. During our summer NETA Board retreat, it was mentioned that we needed a hashtag throughout the year - "When do we switch from #neta11 to #neta12?" Great point. But nothing really ever came of those discussions. Really, whose job is it to create an "official hashtag?"
With the change of the calendar to 2012, it seemed the tide of educational Twitter use in Nebraska also began to change. More and more schools were creating their own hashtag, most notably #yorkdukes and #tt4t (Bellevue). EdCamp Omaha 2012 was extremely successful - In 2011, 42% of people who signed up showed up. In 2012, 62%. And in person attendance was almost double 2011. Again, many of us had "met" through Twitter and used EdCamp Omaha as a way to develop those relationships face to face. Skip ahead a month to the end of April and NETA 2012. Use of the official #neta12 hashtag, even though it wasn't announced, was exponentially higher than past years. It was a combination of regular users tweeting more and new users jumping on board (thanks in part to Kevin Honeycutt, one of the keynote speakers).
Even with the success of #neta12, that doesn't answer the question as to how we bridge the gap between #neta12 and #neta13. Few people know that I also run our district's sports Twitter account. On autumn Friday nights in Nebraska, one of the hottest hashtags is #nebpreps, sharing all of the Friday night high school football activity. I don't know who started the hashtag, so I apologize for not giving credit. Playing off that hashtag a bit, I proposed on Twitter that we use #nebedu as a way to share educational information here in Nebraska.
There were a couple other suggestions that I'd like to clarify my "issues" with. Obviously, I'm not in charge of Twitter in Nebraska, but some of my thought process:
- #nebed - Nebraska education or any bed? Junior high, I know, but it was the first thing I saw.
- #netech - See my post yesterday. My thought was to make it as inclusive as possible of all aspects of education in the state.
- #edne - personal preference of having NE first
So I tweeted out the #nebedu idea the other day. But, I hadn't added a column in Tweetdeck. When I finally got it added yesterday, the hashtag already filled up a full column on my screen, thanks in large part to the #yorkdukes crew. I'd encourage you to set up a column in Tweetdeck or save the search however it is that you access Twitter.
The #nebedu hashtag is for all of us in Nebraska to share the great, the not so great and the curious in education. It's not just for "techie" people. It's not an "Eastern 1/3" thing. It's statewide. It's what works/worked for YOU. It's Birth to PreK to 20. It's what's best to educate the kids in our state.
What made NETA 2012 stand out to me from past conferences is that I got to meet, face-to-face, many people who I'd already chatted with on Twitter. It was reminiscent of the connections I've made at EdCamps and ISTE in the past. Having a common hashtag allows you to see who is going to any conference or workshop in the state and get the discussion kicked off ahead of time and, more importantly in my book, continue the conversation once it's over.
I hope you'll share the #nebedu hashtag with any and all Twitter users. If you have Nebraska educators thinking about Twitter, direct them to the hashtag as a way to meet other Nebraska educators already sharing. Above all, please contribute. We NEED your contributions. We can make a bigger difference together than we can alone.