Visitors to this blog will already have read some of the many posts from teachers about the power of Twitter for educational purposes (for instance, see here, here and here – and others can be found using the blog ‘search’ facility). Having set up a Twitter account and started to follow many users on Twitter, a common question that quickly emerges is ‘how can I manage all of these tweets?’ One solution is to use Twitter lists, a built-in facility which allows you to filter tweets from certain users into separate categories (lists) which can then be viewed in isolation to your full Twitter feed.
Other than allowing you to organise your tweets into categories (which are entirely of your own choosing) and thereby helping you to make more efficient use of Twitter, a further useful feature of Twitter lists is that one Twitter user can subscribe to another user’s list(s). For example, I have a Twitter list called ‘English Teachers Ireland‘ (a list of teachers of English that are based in or from Ireland) which currently has 72 members (i.e. it is compiling tweets from 72 Twitter users) but also has 24 subscribers (i.e. people who are ‘following’ my list). As I add more teachers to this Twitter list, those who are subscribed to my list will automatically see the tweets from these newly-added teachers via my list. You can, however, choose to designate a Twitter list as ‘private’ instead of ‘public’ if you so wish, which means that other users cannot view or subscribe to that list and only you will be able to use it.
You can view the full range of options for Twitter lists by clicking on the ‘Lists’ menu on your Twitter profile page. From here, you can view the lists that you currently own or are subscribed to, as well as see what lists you are currently a member of (i.e. lists that other users have set up and have added you to).
You can also create a new list here by filling out the following simple criteria, and then adding Twitter users to that list (see the links below for instructions):
Twitter lists don’t work in the same way as mailing lists, in that you can’t send a tweet to all members of a Twitter list in one go. A Twitter list is simply a way of filtering out certain users, based on a criteria of your choosing, so that you can view tweets from these users separate to the full list of people you are following on Twitter. In fact, you don’t even need to follow someone on Twitter to add them to your Twitter list, which means the only time you will see tweets from such a user is when you view the Twitter list that you have added them to (or view that user’s profile page directly) and their updates won’t appear in your normal Twitter stream.
Twitter lists are without doubt one of the most powerful (but underused) features of Twitter and are well worth further investigation. You can read more about Twitter lists using the following links:
- Twitter Help Centre: Using Twitter Lists
- Edudemic: Twitter Lists in the Classroom
- Twitter 101: Getting started with Twitter Lists