Monday, March 29, 2010

Fact: If You Use TweetDeck Too Long Your Eyes Will Stick (Post 8: Twitter)

Marty Feldman Pictures, Images and Photos
This is me after an intense month of twitter. Enough said.
 
Tweet, Tweet, Twiddle, Twiddle (Learning the Tool)

Captain's Log: February 27, 2010

What I know about Twitter?

ŸIt's about posting in 140 characters or less.
ŸAshton Kutcher likes it
Questions I Still Have About Twitter?
ŸWhat does it mean to follow? Is there a Pied piper?
ŸIs there a benefit to having a whole bunch of followers?
ŸIs it complicated?
ŸIs it time consuming?
ŸWhat benefits does it provide that outweigh not doing it all?
Twitter, where do I start? I have to admit. I gave this posting week the evil eye. "Oh no Twitter, I will not like you and the cute bird, doesn't fool me."


MasterMaq's Getting Started with Twitter
  1. Pick a Good User Name (My name…Is that good? I was born with it, named after a barmaid, I was…I really was…)
  2. Change Your Profile Pic (Check)
  3. Keep Your Tweets Public (Check)
  4. Enter your website URL (Check)
  5. Set your location (Apparently Earth is too vague…)
  6. Post a Few Updates (Felt like a fraud)
  7. Resist the temptation to follow everyone. (Initially, I tried to follow journalists and athletes at the Olympics but the updates were not frequent, or interesting. Now I check out profiles before I follow.)
  8. Tweets, Replies, Retweets, Hashtags, Twooshes, Direct Messages, Tweetups (I have achieved everything except a tweetup.)
Then I pulled a David Copperfield and disappeared.
Suddenly a kick came from cybersphere, professor said,
 "You better use that tool because I am watching."

I looked up from my computer, where was she hiding? I was overwhelmed with Twitter. How do you deal with the POWER of NOW?
I got a TweetDeck. I would open it and then look across the columns. Then shut it down. I had no idea, no kidding, that you had to leave it on. "Think McFly, think?"

By the grace of god, I left it on a few weeks ago and suddenly…I saw the tweets roll in.

But this alone, wasn't enough. Off to the library I went. I looked up every Twitter book I could find and reviewed the class trailfire. Armed with several books, including one that was called, "Go Tweet Yourself!",I made myself A Twitter Tool To Do List.

The first thing I did was create a short URL. I used isgd.com. But if you work within TweetDeck, URLs are shortened automatically when you post.
Then I created lists of my users. I grouped my classmates into one list under our course title and some others I grouped under media.

Then I went to listeria….no wait that is bacteria…. I went to Listorious and searched for lists of tweeters I might like.
Then I checked out the trends. This column is found on the left side of the Twitter homepage. You can change the settings to be a certain location.
This led to #yeg. Wait that's on my luggage! Are Hashtags a secret Mayan translation? No, but darn close, here are some secrets about hashtags. I clicked on Open City and there was a
live broadcast
, in my own city, talking about stuff that kinda made sense. Fortunately I discovered that Foursquare did not refer to a show on Treehouse.



I was able to embed the broadcast on my blog, tweeted that I had embedded the broadcast and followed the live chat and discussion. It was fascinating! Clearly there was a relationship between the panel and some of the tweeters. The discussion was professional and very supportive, informative, no egos to be found. I noticed the professor was also on. The thing is, I just happened to be online and figure this all out. This was a spontaneous event. Is THIS how this works? A family outing pulled me away, but later a tweet friend asked why I stopped tweeting about the event…Yay someone cares!
After that encouraging adventure, I didn't sneer at my TweetDeck as much. In fact I left it on. Can you say distracting? Reminds me of Up

…SQUIRREL!!!!

And the noise…co-workers asked…"What is that?" "Oh that's my tweetdeck!" crickets…deer in headlights. I coughed and moved on.


I think it's called Twitter because it makes you nervous all the time. It's like trying to watch kids on a field trip…one eye on the task the other looking off to the corner. It is the child of Red Bull and a big cup of Joe.


So how was I going to learn more? I experimented with @ and retweeting. I felt like a fraud. But that was okay…
I had created a hashtag column sometime, don't recall when or how. But I decided to follow a hashtag #edchat. I clicked on it to discover the meaning behind it and lo and behold there was a weekly chat. Guess what? A chat was starting in 10 minutes. Okay buckle your tweetbelt!


So basically a question is posted. This week was "How do we get more great teacher/leaders in to the education field?" Then you are expected to respond, retweet, add etc. I watched the discussion, finding a place to jump in, kinda of like double dutch. Finally I mustered the courage and jumped right into the fray. It was like an instant messaging/party phone. Incredible, the amount of discussion was evolving right before my eyes. People retweeted me!


Here is the archived summary. Imagine all this discussion in an hour and I was only on for 20 minutes.
After the fact, I looked and discovered I had gained 5 followers in 20 minutes. Is that how this works? Pick me! Pick me! I also chose people to follow during the chat. I was finding like minds, some were local and others were as far away as Germany.
I got it! Cue the huge light bulb. Now I understood the power of Twitter first hand.

 

What Did I Learn?
ŸI learned that Twitter isn't something that you can check into once a day, unless you are a passive user or perhaps on life support.
ŸThe key to Twitter is to know your purpose.
If it is a general purpose then leave it on, check it etc.
If you have a question, post it and attach a #hashtag in order to track it. Sometimes people will directly message you the answer.
If you want a fast moving discussion join a tweet event, block off the time and follow a discussion. The experience of a discussion got rid of that Twitter feeling where you feel like you are alone. "Bueller…Bueller."
ŸI have learned not to judge a Twit by its cover. (Tweeters are people too.)
ŸI have learned that I can talk in 140 characters or less.
ŸLanguage separates Twitter from the rest of the tools. (Lots of terms to know, you need to look them up!)
ŸTwitter cannot be archived. (Unlike, Blogs that have threads you can follow.)
ŸTwitter can isolate you among your regular 'friends'. But I think developing a PLN means that just because your 'friend' jumps off the bridge, you don't have too… but you can tweet about it.


The Answer My Friend is Tweeting In the Wind, the Answer is Tweeting in the Wind (Personal and Social Uses)

In regards to Web 2.0, Clay Shirky states "[tools] don't get socially interesting until they get technically boring" Twitter is one such example. When you get beyond the bird, the tweeting, the funny marks, the 'following', the tiny urls and all the luggage plus carry on, the tool becomes an amazing social experience. If I had not been pushed, prodded and threatened I would have not tried Twitter. It just held no perceived relevance at the time. But when the tool became routine, I could enjoy the scenery. I could feel what was happening.

" What is Twitter for?"

As with any social network, the answer is the same: whatever you make of it?" It's hard to differentiate personal from the professional uses of Twitter. When logged in, the tweets can tap into all of your networks. It's quite interesting how that is. But when you think about it, with one platform to rule them all, all interests have to be in the same location, unlike blogs, wikis and facebook where you might set them up for different audiences. I suppose some friends might ask, "Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me?" This is where hashtags come in and let your followers know when you are talking to them.
Keys for Success
Ÿ Have an open mind. Following and retweeting on Twitter means being open to new ideas. Mack Male (2009) mentions in his eluminate session, don't get caught up in an 'echo chamber'. Basically staying too close to like minded people and not seeking out other perspectives. None of my friends are on Twitter so I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, but this has worked to my advantage. Burgess (2009) adds, "It is important for women to close the social capital gap by seeking and profiting from new relationships that serve as conduits of new information" (p.64).
ŸBe curious and willing to experiment. Initially I did not want to try hashtags or create messages. But twitters are very supportive and it feels safe to try things out.
ŸAsk questions and share your insights with others. I would like to pursue this area more in my personal interest of writing. I think my advance in this area has stalled because I was working in isolation and not in an established community again due to the fact that my friends are not writers.
ŸClearly define your Twitter goal, and make your Twitter-related decisions support your goal. Currently my goals are course related. After the course I plan to create a plan for making the most of my PLN as related to my personal goals. Like all things, I don't get to work on my personal goals very often.
ŸBe real and honest, and show your personality. This has been blessing. Breaking free of academic constraints my 'natural' voice comes out, pop culture references and all.
ŸEngage others in conversations around topics that are important to them. I don't consider myself political but I have enjoyed engaging in social issues related to education.
ŸReply to interesting tweets. This helps build your followers and creates discussion.
ŸRetweet helpful information and insights, giving other people the credit for their contributions. I have been thanked for retweeting and have been retweeted as well.
ŸConsider your community and share information that your community finds useful and helpful. I am trying to share useful info using #yeg. Mack Male (2009) suggests that following local people leads to timely information such as this:
RT @CityofEdmonton Trains Start to Test South LRT Extension Tracks http://bit.ly/9US0IU #yeg #yegtransit

ŸProvide accurate and complete profile information so people can learn about you. I am feeling more comfortable with this and I understand how this promotes professional networking.
ŸThe quality of your Twitter experience depends on whom you follow. If you don't like your experience, follow different people. So true and there are so many choices. Breeding (2009) adds."Effective use of Twitter involves shaping a body of profiles that you follow that result in a stream of information
you find interesting and useful" (p.30).


Personally, I have used twitter to tweet with my husband. He has been privy to my Web 2.0 journey and we have been discussing the possibilities of Twitter for social use such as:
  1. Networking, finding a new job or other professional opportunities.
  2. Following late breaking news. Edmonton's elusive peahen captured! http://edmjr.nl/cQfIKs #yeg
  3. Entering contests
  4. New Book announcements
  5. Helping others, like my mom, establish her own PLN. This is would be a huge undertaking! Huge undertaking!


I Twittered Through the Grapevine (Educational Uses)

 

"…real communities are based on communication, participation and relationships and these kinds of communities take time to activate." (p.3). (Newcomb, 2010)
Twitter has the potential of connecting communities in real time.
Messner (2009) took advantage of twitter for her writing classroom. She facilitated an online discussion with author Sarah Lewis Holmes about revision. It was noted that this activity took 15 minutes. "That's generally how our classroom Twitter account works. It's a tool that we take advantage of when it fits our teaching and learning needs and when special opportunities arise" (p.45). Here is a plethora of Twitter feeds that support the writing process and links to YA authors on twitter. Pascopella & Richardson (2009) suggest that writing with Web 2.0 tools provides an evolving platform for writing, not just an endpoint or published piece.
This article found at changED suggests a handy tool to help facilitate student discussion. Students need modeling of communication techniques this is an important precursor to all Web 2.0 tools. In addition, Burgess (2009) suggests that, "Students can self-survey and participate in reflective activities designed for them to identify their own areas where they might need social and professional support" (p.67).


Twitter has the ability to bring together a large community. Here is a video, highlighting how Twitter can engage a class size of 90.



Why Else Should Teacher's Use Twitter?


  1. Networking globally and locally. But for me mostly globally.
  2. Professional development. I can't believe the discussion, powerful stuff! I spent two hours following #edchat on Saturday night. Thank goodness everyone lived back east and went to bed. I felt guilty leaving.
  3. Finding answers to questions. Check and see what others think. Currently there are huge discussions on teacher leadership. It's interesting to see the perspectives of people across the country.


Twitter is sort of a reference library. Check in and see what's hot? What's the current trend? Depending on who you are following, is the information you get. Twitter search also provides a way to find out what everyone is talking about. Just type something into the search. You can set up a feed to follow this query which parlays well into research. You can also tweet these results to others. I have recently subscribed to the feed of #edchat. I can follow the discussion thread in Google Reader and it keeps me in the loop when I am not active on twitter.

 

Implications of Twitter in Education

 

There are risks, Pascopella & Richardson (2009) state "…as with any interaction online, there is always a chance for an inappropriate response or a connection with someone who may not be who he seems" (p.49). Pascopella & Richardson (2009) go on to state that teachers need to be prepared, able to plan for possibilities that may arise and setting clear internet policies at school with parents signing permission. As with all Web 2.0 tools, it seems that the benefits, outweigh the risks. Twitter is not an add on, but rather a necessary tool for out 21st Century classrooms.
"In short, the most fascinating thing about Twitter is not what it's doing to us. It's what we're doing to it."



Ok. So this Twitter thing has grown on me.
Don't tell my mom.
I am not sure if good girls tweet.
But I guess you have to be a rebel sometime.

 

Until next time,
Lit Maven…Out!    
Remember…We're All in This Together- Ben Lee



Non Linked Resources
Breeding, M. (2009). Social networking strategies for professionals. Computers in Libraries, 29(9), 29-31. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Burgess, K. (2009). Social networking technologies as vehicles of support for women in learning communities. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, (122), 63-71. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Mach, M. (2009) Mack Male Eluminate Session http://bit.ly/6yrKm
Messner, K. (2009). Pleased to tweet you: Making a case for twitter in the classroom. School Library Journal, 55(12), 44-47. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Newcomb, M. (Ed.). (2010) Sam's teach yourself twitter in 10 minutes. Indianapolis, IN: Pearson Education Inc.
Pascopella, A., & Richardson, W. (2009). The new writing pedagogy. District Administration, 4544-56,. Retrieved from ERIC database.
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Brandi, for being honest about how you learned about twitter. I think it is great for me (and others) to read that learning a new tool like twitter isn't always easy, nor is it something that happens overnight. I'm glad my reminders to use twitter throughout the term helped keep you on track. Like you, I have found that using twitter both locally (#yeg) and globally (#edchat) has been beneficial. I tend to use twitter more for professional learning, but I do also subscribe to a number of local, Edmonton things (e.g. CBC and the Edmonton Journal). I like that for keeping in touch with what's happening in my own backyard!

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