behind the 8 ball,
trying to finalize my blog post,
on the topic of twitter,
when the free,
Curse you twitter!
Fortunately, much of my research has been accumulating on this topic, for a couple of weeks now, since I signed up for twitter in July and have been reading and learning about it since then. It was a wise idea for Jenn, our proff, to advise us to set up an account early in our summer course. I have had time to learn about the service before considering it here in my blog and am ready to post about twitter and its possible uses for education, work and personal use.
Multiple post-secondary, and higher education institutions, are already integrating social networking sites into their curriculum, as is the business world. According to Wikipedia, micro-blogging, which is one of the hottest social networking sites of the day, “has the potential to become a new informal communication medium especially for collaborative work.”
The sentiment that twitter can benefit group work was supported at this year’s international conference on supporting group work:
Micro-blogs, a relatively new phenomenon, provide a new communication channel for people to broadcast information that they likely would not share otherwise using existing channels (e.g., email, phone, IM, or weblogs). Micro-blogging has become popular quite quickly, raising its potential for serving as a new informal communication medium at work, providing a variety of impacts on collaborative work (e.g., enhancing information sharing, building common ground, and sustaining a feeling of connectedness among colleagues). This exploratory research project is aimed at gaining an in-depth understanding of how and why people use Twitter – a popular micro-blogging tool – and exploring micro-blog’s potential impacts on informal communication at work” (Zhao & Rosson, 2009)
I believe that the idea that micro-blogging has the potential to provide positive impacts on group work can be fittingly applied to group work in education, in addition to collaborative work in business settings.
Twitter is micro-blogging and there are many online resources available to help you learn how to set up and use twitter but first watch this Twitter in Plain English episode that provides a quick and plain intro to the micro-blogging service Twitter.
It’s simple to set up an account on twitter but to get started with tweeking the finer points of twitter and to learn about the vast array of possible uses, I recommend you frequent Twitorials.com.
There are vast quantities of valuable online resources that support using twitter for educational purposes. The paper, Can We Use Twitter for Educational Activities? for example, is worth a thorough read,
With a solid experience in using Web2.0 technologies in education, the authors are trying to provide arguments for using Twitter as microblogging platform / social network in education, underlining its advantages, but also possible bad points”
In the paper, Grosseck and Holotescu (2008) provide some direction on measures that they believe need to be adopted for twitter to function in educational area. For instance, they note that allowing your network time to respond is very important and recommend that students should be included in the evaluation of the approach. They also make an excellent point that “Twitter is meaningless without a network, which must be willing to share, to engage, to provoke, to discuss etc.”
25 Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom is a presentation that is geared towards K-12 but has several strategies that could be adapted for higher education. For example, #17 – communicate with experts, could be used in universities and the experts that students communicate with could come from the fields that the students are doing majors, minors or their degree route in. #18 – use a twitter widget for instant updates on your website, is a way that twitter could be used in any school or business. For personal, professional or educational use #23 – track your trip with twitter, would be a fun way to communicate.
Time to check back to twitter
I try again and think maybe, just maybe, when I close my browser and bring it up again with destination twitter as my number one tweet to check out hat if I cannot login, I will at least find an image of twitter’s Fail Whale this time, instead of finding the disconnected from server notice that happened earlier. No, I am again not able to get to twitter – not even able to find a Fail Whale page!
I would have liked to place an image in my blog post to show you the fail whale logo that you can view from the link in the above paragraph but according to the wiki:
“This is a logo of an organization, item, or event, and is protected by copyright and possibly trademark. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images on the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, of logos for certain uses involving identification and critical commentary may qualify as fair use under United States copyright law. Any other uses of this image, on Wikipedia or elsewhere, may be copyright infringement. Certain commercial use of this image may also be trademark infringement. See Wikipedia:Non-free content and Wikipedia:Logos…”
Therefore, no fail whale logo will appear in my blog. I could likely chase down the logo elsewhere, for example, on twitter if it were working, and investigate the copyright information from its source if logos were the topic of this blog (teachable moment about copyright just occurred in blog post – check mark). No fail whale and yet no twitter – back to my twitter dialogue.
Considering twitter for our cooperative education program
Our Cooperative Education Program is operated from the Business Career Services Office at the University of Alberta, School of Business and I found a tweeter institutions who seems to have the same combination of services. They appear to just be getting on board with Web 2.0 tools too and have just recently began to tweet. They announced it on their website and created a YouTube announcement too!
I will definitely be checking back in on them in the future to see if I can find some best practices that we might want to consider.
It has become readily apparent that I am part of the ‘older demographic!’ According to a news bit from Canwest News Service, the national Twitter boom is driven by us old people – us over 25 that is! The news feed from Canwest on The Vancouver Sun website divulges the evidence:
Twitter is exploding in popularity, but that’s not thanks to the young audience that drives many online trends. The under-25 crowd is greatly under-represented in the micro-blogging site’s demographics, the Nielsen Company finds. As of June, Twitter reached 10.7 per cent of active Internet users in the U.S., the market research firm says, but only 16 per cent of those tweeting their thoughts 140 characters at a time were under 25. In contrast, 64 per cent of Twitter users are aged 25 to 54, Nielsen says, and 20 per cent are 55 or older.”
Since the majority of the student audience I work with are in the under 25 crowd, I will be quite cautious with how and if I proceed with using twitter for educational purposes. If I decide to take up tweeting for co-op students I would likely start by using twitter to pass along resources that provide them with professional advice or help them transition to the workplace from school. I am following tweets currently, which are from career advisors and educators in similar roles to me, as well as tweets from educators with a focus on web 2.0.
Tweets that interest me are those that will assist with reaching our teaching objectives. I would not have students subscribe yet because I want to sift through the tweets and figure out how or if there are tweets that are consistently providing good sound advice and information. Not all career advice or professional tips are sound advice, for our given context.
I have been saving tweets that I want to come back and check on further, for example the link, Top 5 Interview Mistakes to Avoid http://tr.im/vzkr, might provide some fodder when we revise our upcoming workshops on interviewing. As I explore more and more advice I find in tweets I am sure my confidence will grow and I will be able to find some positive twitters to follow and recommend to colleagues and potentially to students.
In our field we are always looking to connect with new employers and develop interesting work experience placements for our students and I am confident that there will be ways to use twitter to make these connections. TweetMyJobs.com is a new recruiting twitter that brings together companies and job seekers, for example and I know that there are others I can check out in the future.
There are many other resources that I will consider in further detail, when we do contemplate how we might incorporate twitter into our work. 100+ Serious Twitter Tips for Academics has tips for how to get started with using twitter for business, communication, and education. 13 Odd Ways to Use Twitter has aticles about Twitter and how you can use it for businesses purposes and The Twittering Teacher provides tips on using the mere 140 characters to answer twitter’s one question – what are you doing?
On a personal level, I have not come close to loving twitter, not yet at least. I find that it is not very productive for me at this point in time. I enjoy following many tweeters and am even being followed by many but I find that I have lots of spam. I realize that there are ways to filter and many twitter applications that might complement my twitter usage and am sure that once I spend more time I will find something to suit my needs.
For now, I have a shared calendar in our office that keeps my colleagues informed enough about where I am, during the hours that they should be privy to that information. My students know my office hours, we schedule our site visits one-on-one, and they have our workshop and seminar schedules. I already have the capacity to update my status in Linked with any big ideas that I might want to share with my professional network and have update capabilities in facebook that keep my friends and family up to speed.
I will continue to use and become familiar with twitter though because I have found practical uses for educational purposes already, as mentioned above.
To you twitter spammers or icky marketers: no, I don’t want to come and see your nude pictures or your XXX or view your sexy videos – thanks anyway, tweet heart!
For those of you considering diving into twitter for any application consider the following my first RT (means, re-tweet and there are supposedly RT Rules of Engagement) to you:
Make your tweets worthwhile, especially if using professionally. Don’t need to hear “sorry I didn’t tweet much yesterday.”
Love twitter? Perhaps, you should consider attending one of the 140 characters conferences.
At the 140 Character Conference (#140conf) events, we look at twitter as a platform and as a language we speak. Over time we will be expanding our scope to include additional platforms. #140conf is not an event about microblogging or the place where people share twitter “tips and techniques” but rather where we explore the effects of twitter and the real-time Internet on Business.”
Richardson (2008), the author of our primary text for our Web 2.0 course, divulges in a round about manner that he is addicted to twitter and recommends that addicts “follow InnerTwitter at innertwitter.com. Check it out and you’ll see why” (p. 87).
Want to become an expert tweeter? 140 characters: A style guide for the short form is a website dedicated to creating a style guide for twitter and they are also working on a book and an app to fill the need for twitterature guidance.
It seems we need a style guide for Twitter and other services for the short form. This will be a compendium of styles and tips to help you become more effective in writing for such a small space.
It can be a challenge to pack a powerful, emotional sentiment into 140 characters or less! This is not to tell you what to write. Instead these are suggestions on how to write, from some of the best and more prolific writers out there. Learn to be more effective — and communicate more – using these ubiquitous short message services.”
In the video below, Jan Sluizer of Westwood One radio in San Francisco interviewed 140 characters authors at an event that marked twitter’s 3rd birthday which occurred on March 21st, 2009.
Twitter is still relatively new and the momentum of growth appears to be continuing and as it does, I am confident that more of my peers will find great uses for it and I will happily await the sharing of best practices to come!
A few final items to share
Good Tweet Vs Bad Tweet: A Guide To Being Not Boring On Twitter ,
A final section to share some local goodies
A hashtag is a way of visually categorizing your tweet. They are very simple: the pound/number sign followed by some characters. Here are the hashtags used commonly in the Edmonton community:
- #yeg – The main hashtag, used for anything related to Edmonton. More information here.
- #yegfood – Used for anything food-related in Edmonton.
- #yegfoodbank – Used to talk about Edmonton’s Food Bank.
- #yegtraffic – Used to report traffic issues in Edmonton.
- #yegarts – Used for anything arts-related in Edmonton.
- #yegbook – Used to talk about the @yegbookclub.
- #yegmeetup – Used to talk about the Social Web Meetup.
- #yegtweetup – Used to discuss Edmonton Tweetups.
- #ABFoodBanks – Used to talk Alberta Food Bank Network Association (Alberta Food Banks).
- #yegphoto – Used for the Edmonton Twitter Photography group.
- #yegtransit – Used for anything related to public transit in Edmonton.
- #yegcc – Used for anything related to City Council.
- #yegsafetymtg – Used for social gathering held Fridays in Edmonton
Twellow – the yellow book for finding Edmonton twitter usesrs
Twitter and facebook, social networking sites, are back up and running again.
Well, twitter is back up!
You question: how do I know?
Well I logged into my blog and see that my WordPress sidebar twitter widget that I named, “Twitter Tweetings,” is working. There is news that twitter was hacked:
Sorry, twitter! Curse you twitter hackers!
Richardson, W. (2008). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (Second Edition.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Zhao, D., and Rosson, M. B., (2009). How and why people Twitter: the role that micro-blogging plays in informal communication at work. As cited in, GROUP ’09: Proceedings of the ACM 2009 international conference on Supporting group work, pp. 243-252. Retrieved August 6, 2009 from, http://www.citeulike.org/group/9689/article/4677230