Twitter is just the best free resource for conservations and input into your classes. Students think in text today and this allows for quick and short responses. Students like it and it seems they will tweet things long after class is over.
I use it to find trends in my field and to share what I am doing in my classroom.
Tweet Deck--allows you to manage the information easily. It is a free download that organizes your tweets by hashtags. You can organize tweets by the people or hashtags. It is easy to use and allows you to tweet from the programs. It keeps things focused so keeping up is easy.
Twitter Poll--allows you to get immediate feedback from your students. I use it for back channeling and formative assessment at the end or start of a class.
Tweet Chat--This allows you to follow a specific hashtag and have a running conversation on a topic. A point to remember if you want to not overwhelm your followers when having a #hashtag chat, start any tweet you want to "hide" with @HideChat or @HideTag. I use this during lectures or videos--I can stop and answer questions or review things students are not understand immediately.
NOTE: This also works when live-tweeting events or shows.
Tweet Grid--allows you to manage tweets by hashtags. It's online so no download--it also allows you to follow 9 hashtags at once. It's quick and easy! It saves you time and can be accessed from anywhere because it's online. You can tweet from this site. I use it to monitor chats with in my classes--all seven of them at once.
Tweetree--Allows you to watch a specific hashtags but not reply--but it does give you a url to share with others. It allows me to let the students see the input from the day before. Doesn't allow them to reply at that time.
I have my students research their chosen field and what hashtags to follow. They can ask questions of professional in the field and find out what trends are in their field. Every profession has hashtags. They can follow professional organizations or specific topics of interest.
Titter in the Classroom Wiki This site is loaded with ideas for using Twitter in your classroom--check it out!
Hope this helps inspire you to jump in and start tweeting in your classes and professionally. All comments and suggestions are welcome! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org