Twitter For Jisc 1 March 2010


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Stephen Fry: “It’s called Twitter. Not Serious Debate or Marketing Tool” … So does it have a place in Higher Education?

Time is short, money is short. There’s a lot of change going on in the world, methods of communication are changing… which do we invest time or money in?

What is Twitter? How do you use it?
What are the ‘conventions’ of Twitter?
What are some of the Twitter tools, third party apps, and how can Twitter lists help?
How can Twitter help with your academic profile?
How might Twitter help in the classroom?

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  • So, first, we will look at the following…
  • I don’t want to get too bogged down in the “how-to”, as there are plenty of videos such as this on YouTube… on setting up a Twitter account…
  • I want to focus more on what can you DO with Twitter… specifically within an HE context.
  • Been into digital tools since 1997
    Return from travels in November 2008 (had been using travelblog to keep in touch)
    One of the job options was University Web Manager
    Started to see Digital Strategy increasingly relevant in those job roles.
    Started playing with various social media tools, and found that Twitter was the big one in the pack, joined January 2009!
  • What I’m REALLY interested in, however, is using technology as a learning tool… Started to come across the following concepts: (contested, but interesting to consider)
    Digital Native (technology their first stop) See Jake, used to sharing through peer-to-peer networks
    Digital Immigrant (had to learn to use/adapt)
    Digital Aliens (like my Dad, don’t want to use)
    The expectation is that more Digital Natives’s like Jake (aged 14) are coming to University, and we need to be prepared for them... NOT that all will be the same…
  • At the JISC E-Learning Fair November 2009, Sir David Melville gave a summary of his report – you can read online here – explaining that results they had applied to 15 year olds were now probably relevant for 12 year olds as the pace of change increases…
  • Some reports have indicated that Gen Y isn’t interested in Twitter – seeing it as “pointless” and “narcissistic”, but I have noted a number of my students have it, and that seems to be a general trend as this graph illustrates…
    Increasing ownership of Smart Phones
    Pressure from employers/tutors
    Influx of celebrity tweeters
    Importance as a networking tool
  • So, having said that I didn’t want to go into the “how to” of Twitter – we do need to briefly address what it is, and some of the conventions that we have to work within – only by understanding those can we understand how we can best make use of it.
  • So, briefly, Twitter is a form of ‘mini-blogging’ - each message is composed of no more than 140 characters, based on text messaging - where the system originated.
    Significantly, Twitter used to ask “What are you doing?”, and now ask “What’s happening?”
    Will show an example of a profile page shortly… but, just to note…
    Password protected accounts allow you to have private conversations, but you can only have one account per email address so think carefully.
  • That most famous of British users…
    Stephen Fry’s profile page, also known as a “Tweetstream”
    Passed his 1 million follower mark towards the end of last year…
    well known for causing websites to crash when he mentions them…
  • Lot of people think Twitter is just like Facebook status updates…
    I would definitely see them differently – on Facebook I need some kind of concrete connection with the person before I will become “friends”, whereas on Twitter I will follow anyone whom I find posts interesting information (and it doesn’t have to be reciprocal), from anywhere in the world, at any time of the day and night…
    Unless you’re a celebrity, posting personal information only won’t gain you many followers…
    Let’s have a look at my Twitter feed…
  • Here’s my Twitterfeed on Saturday afternoon
    Arrow 1
    Twitter name – think carefully. Shorter is better, as it all counts towards your 140 characters
    Image: Add a clear picture of yourself. I don’t like following people without ‘avatars’ unless I already know them in ‘the real world’.
    Arrow 2
    This section is where many users may make a decision to follow you (can be changed in ‘Settings’)
    Location is important, especially for users targeting local information.
    Always include your web address, so people can find out more!
    Bio: Key. Only 160 characters, think carefully about can include here!
    Arrow 3
    Who I’m following, most recent first
    Arrow 4
    My most recent tweet. I use a real mix of personal information, recommendations of other’s tweets/web links, and conversations with others… as Stephen Fry said – it’s Twitter, and as in everyday conversation, it’s not all composed of grand thoughts!
    Arrow 5
    A ‘retweet’ of another users information – we’ll come back to that.
  • So, to look at some of the key conventions of Twitter…, etiquette/conventions rather than RULES, as there’s no one RIGHT way to use the service – that’s one of the joys of it!
  • Here we can see a detail from a great diagram, demonstrating where Twitter can have an impact…
    The big purpose for many is to drive traffic … part of the lifeblood driving traffic back to the heart of your online presence – your blog (we could go more into that, but that’s a different topic!), and I have definitely noticed spikes in traffic back to my blog after posting blog links to Twitter….
    Have a proper look at the diagram to see what it’s possibilities are…
  • As we said, Twitter should be a mix of useful & personal information (not TOO MUCH INFORMATION please), but this shouldn’t all just be “broadcast” to users, and Twitter works best if you can engage with other users, responding to their Tweets, and thanking them when they Retweet your information…
    So, what are Retweets…
  • Essentially, a Retweet is a sign that you like someone else’s message so much that you want YOUR followers to read it – when you RT, it appears in your Twitter Feed… so there can be a snowball effect as your followers can also retweet the information… this can grow exponentially, and even become a trending topic
    2 Examples
    The first is where Lisa, who is following me, has taken my Tweet about preparing for this talk, and retweeted it (RT is a convention), taking the opportunity to add a comment in brackets (using her phone to post the message). This is the preferred way of engaging amongst those ‘in the know’, and existed before Twitter provided the 2nd example last year
    In this example, I am on the web version of Twitter, and have chosen to retweet ‘as is’, which is the option provided by the Twitter ‘Retweet’ button… if not on a 3rd party app, you’ll have to cut & paste!
  • Use the hashtag symbol/word within your tweet…
    Follow Friday ( )
    A well established convention, where (on a Friday) users recommend other users they think are worth following
    The etiquette for recommending is somewhat interesting
    A certain amount of you pat my back…
    Seems to be dying off – maybe replaced by lists (we’ll come back to those)
    Invent a Hashtag
    There’s no central register of hashtags, so you just need to do a bit of research before defining one – e.g. a module code may be good to use!
    It counts towards your 140 characters so keep it short.
    Check it’s not already in use (especially if for a porn site… didn’t the BBC get caught out on that the other week?)
    Mutual agreement by users leads to consistent use of the same hashtag
  • Follow a Story
    Many news stories break on Twitter, and this Saturday the news of the earthquake/Tsunami were spreading fast (CNN announced on Saturday that Social Media was the best place to find breaking news).
    It’s easy to follow tweets which are specific to that story, by putting the hashtag into the search box (you can also search for terms without a hash-tag, that’s fine too)
    The results appear “in real time” in a search feed…
    Retweets, at the heart of Twitter have a couple of key purposes which can be optimised in education
    Using a hashtag as a course code to have conversations with students
    Finding new/interesting people to link with with whom you have in common
  • Use direct messages for 1-to-1 conversations if you feel there’s no value to Twitter at large to hear the conversation, e.g. here I have sent a message to the local networking group, to arrange giving a talk – which was going to be about WW2 posters, but was asked to talk about Twitter intstead...
    Note: Direct Messages only work if the person you are sending them to is following you… otherwise you will have to refer to them in a public message…
    There are SO MANY tools that you can use as add-ons to Twitter, but I’m just going to tell you about a handful that I’ve found particularly interesting/useful… I’m always discovering more, and I may use one and forget about it.. That was partly why I started my own website back in the 90s, as a form of bookmarking sites! Blogging is even better…
  • One of the big pluses for Twitter is the ability to use it on the move via a Smartphone
    Echofon is the main app that I use on my iPhone… giving me as much functionality as the web app, often more!
  • If using the iPhone/Echofon, it will automatically use Twitpic to publish photos you’ve taken with your phone, with whatever you write in the accompanying Tweet. You can also upload a photo via the web address…
    I got great response to a photo I took of muffins as I was trying to decide which to buy…
  • With only 140 characters, it’s best not to lose large numbers of those with long URLs. There are many URL shortening services, but 2 of the best known are TinyURL and Bit.Ly – with Bit.Ly you can also track the number of times an item is clicked.
  • Twitterfall can track a particular search-term/name/hashtag, etc. and in real-time list those – this can then be displayed on a projector in the room, so discussions can be followed…
  • Friend or Follow is really useful tool – you can see in one go who you’re following, who isn’t following you (with a requirement to have 2000 followers before you can follow over 2000 people, this can come in useful!), and decide if you still think they are worth following. You can also see who is following you that you’re not following, and where there’s a reciprocal agreement.
    Some people keep their Twitter accounts very “clean”, but I prefer to have a lot of information, and have specific people I know I want to read their stuff more than others…
  • It is possible to publish your Twitter updates to your Facebook status area.
    Find “Twitter”, the application in Facebook
    HOWEVER, as I said FB/Twitter are 2 very different things and I alienated a lot of friends when I first enabled the feature, so I found this one instead:s “Selective Twitter”
    Enable the App
    Add #fb to each of your Tweets.
    Topsy describes itself as “a search engine powered by tweets”, you can both see how your own tweets are doing (find out that you’re described as ‘highly influential’ on Twitter!), and see how many times a link you/others have used has been retweeted… and retweet it yourself.
  • If you get to the stage that you have more than one Twitter account, multiple account managers can help.
    Some of the best known are Tweetdeck, Seeismic and Twitterific (for Macs), and Hootsuite, which I use.
    Hootsuite Offers
    Multiple account management, including Facebook and Linked In, all with a single log-in
    The ability to create multiple columns so that you can see the activity across your account (in/out/waiting, etc.)
    URL shortening (although I have received it as the links mask the real links!)
    The ability to write tweets and set them as ‘pending’ for a later date (especially useful for when going on holiday).
  • (recommendations)
    So, Twitter lists… these were a function added by Twitter last year, and which I have not really had the time to fully use, but can see the potential!
  • With Twitter lists you can build up ideas of who is influential and WHY…
    Here are some of the people who are following me on Digital Fingerprint
    The more influential the person listing you, the more likely you are to get a number of new followers…
    @timbuckteeth (Steve Wheeler @ Uni Plymouth) added me to his ‘top picks’, I got another 50 followers that day, which gives me a wider base to interact with on the topic that I’m interested in!
  • The University of Winchester is shortly to launch a new website, so I have been working with the School of Media and Film to identify some ways to build our social media presence, and Twitter feed is a part of that.
    Aside from being able to post administrative notices to students who may follow, I have also started to build lists centred around the teaching areas (they are still in the early stages!) – including key people to follow re: film, online, journalism, jobs, university-courses, uni-of-winch, advertising, radio, tv, print press. As more students join Twitter they should find ready-made lists which will help them in both their career development and in accessing material appropriate for their current courses.
  • So, we are going to come to a few ideas for using in the classroom shortly, but the key purpose of Twitter is for building a profile online, so it’s perfect for building your academic profile!
  • Now, what I do is open to debate… some would use the same account for everything…
    I use DISTINCT accounts for different specialities, retweeting from drbexl if I think it’s particularly interesting…
    I get most followers on @drbexl (around 1900), but I was losing followers when I was overwhelming my account with social media tweets, whereas, as they are now under a specific account dealing only with social media, I get the followers I want… have recently just tipped over 500.
    @SFDO is a new business which I am working with to establish their social media presence – took them from 11 followers to over 800, and with a bit more work, should push it higher!
  • I set up @ww2poster to tweet about my PhD/history, and then can feed into the relevant blog, as you can see here!
    We must always remember that Twitter is just one of many social media tools, so without a blog to feed into, it might be more difficult to build followers. Twitter is great for getting more blog readers, but the blog needs to have content that people want to return to – this blog has grown from around 500 to 10,000 visitors a month over the past year. I decided to add a blog to my website after my PhD was featured in the Daily Express, and have since gained press coverage in the New York Times, the Independent and am awaiting publication of Time Magazine and Inside Out on the BBC.
  • Networking is obviously the key aspect, from there you can find others to work with on projects/conference papers, etc., and get to know others before you meet them at conferences, etc., build a real community of interest – I met Lisa at a f2f networking event and from there have made most contact through Twitter, and got to know her colleague Lorraine, who I have since met f2f… this is the ‘blend’ we keep talking about when we talk about Blended Learning!
    This is part of the reason that I maintain my separate accounts, so that I get opinion from people in the e-learning sector more quickly, and crowdsource more quickly in a relevant way.. So I can send out a question “Anyone used x?”, and am more likely to get a response. I got most of the information for my interview in September 2009 from Twitter, following a number of conferences via their hashtag, and following other users who were attending those conferences, growing my circle of acquaintance!
    Can see the rest of the presentation via the shortcut.
  • Just some of the names that I follow – I am following a couple of thousand – can who see who others are following – I need to set up a list!
    Harold, met on Second Life/Twitter, and that’s why you see me here today
    Steve Wheeler, at Uni of Portsmouth – great blog, and will be meeting face to face in April at a Plymouth E-Learning conference
    James Clay, a well known name in elearning: ILT & Learning Resources Manager at Gloucestershire College, will be presenting a panel with him at the Plymouth E-Learning conference although we’ve never met.
    David Hopkins writes the blog ‘Don’t Waste Your Time’, nominated for EduBlog awards
    Jane Hart is a social learning consultant
    Liz Pullen, a social media ‘Gurina’, sociologist and academic who studies Twitter ethnographically!
    Documentally (forgotten his real name) – met face-to-face last month as saw he was coming to the Uni of Winchester, sent a Tweet to say hi, and found myself starting off his ‘How to use Twitter’ session as he’d got stuck in traffic – that’s Twitter for you!
    David Hopkins (Bournemouth University):;
    Steve Wheeler (University of Portsmouth):
    Jane Hart (Centre for Learning & Performance Technolgies)
  • Often, when I speak to people about Blended Learning, they immediately think of E-Learning, and dismiss even PowerPoint because of the bad examples of use that they have seen… but we always need to remember that THEY ARE JUST TOOLS, and (as with propaganda), it’s all about how they are being used…
    Are those tools solving a real problem that exists, or are they trying to focus on the technology…
  • As Paul Race says, when we’re talking about e-learning, we need to ensure that the LEARNING is put into e-learning!
    “Incorporate new strategies”: using technology where it is appropriate, with reference to learning objectives, not just because you can…
    Giving learner interesting things to do
    Providing quick/responsive feedback
    Helping them make sense of what they did
    Deepening learning.
    Students can gain all the benefits you gain, in growing their own reputation, etc… employers are looking for social media savvy users
  • At the University of Winchester, a new course in Politics “China:21st Century Challenges” is trialling using Twitter to help build a community of practice within the course…
    Twitter: additional/informal means of communication
    Tutor subscribes to relevant feeds that students can follow
    Tutor “broadcasts” admin notices re: other material on the Learning Network (our VLE)
    Tutor can also tweet AROUND subjects studied in class, but not directly academic
    Grouptweet – allows a “Direct Message” from any one user to appear in the feed/to all other members
    Use of Twitter is voluntary – many students don’t really know what Twitter is outside of the fact that Stephen Fry uses it
    Use = experimental, will determine later whether it appears to have done anything to enhance learning.
  • So many possibilities are already available online, needs a careful assessment of the value of these, some suggestions here...
    Journalism: Follow the development of a news story, both collecting and distributing stories
    Creative Writing: A Twitter novel?!
    Reflection: On lectures, on their own performance, etc. Griffith University in Australia: “"We basically got them to tweet about the processes they use and to think about the problems they encountered and how they overcame them," Dr Ewart said.”
    Gets the students to reflect on their own practice
    Enables the tutor to get a better sense of their students progress
    Backchatter … (next slide)
  • Monica Rankin, History Professor at the University of Texas-Dallas conducted The Twitter Experiment in her on ground history course during class time. 
    She projected a class Twitter account on a screen and asked students to tweet about the topics being discussed during the class time. 
    The result was that Twitter equalized the discussion platform, allowing for more students to contribute in written form.
    Students were also free to continue the discussion afterwards because Twitter is a public platform.
  • Using Twitter and YouTube – the Royal Opera House produced the first ever Twitter Opera, September 2009… selecting from submitted tweets - it’s about being prepared to experiment.
    Many voices – a novel created by “Mr Mayo” from Maryland with young students… collaboratively written
  • Dan Cohen, Associate Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University, conducted a crowdsourcing experiment that simulated the traditional “author’s query” where “a scholar ask readers of a journal for assistance with a research project (Cohen, 2009).”   His employment of Twitter illustrates how such tools can be utilized to problem solve collaboratively.
    the #digdil09 hashtag.
  • One idea I’ve seen used is Poll Everywhere…
    Draw students into your presentation
    Ask for their opinions and display their tweets directly in your slide…
    You can INVITE, but block inappropriate/off topic tweets
    Ask multiple choice questions, and see the graph evolve as people vote.
  • Hope I’ve given you something to think about… now Questions?
  • Twitter For Jisc 1 March 2010

    1. 1. TWITTER IN HIGHER EDUCATION 1st March 2010 Dr Bex Lewis
    2. 2. Time is Short. Money is Short.  Invest in Twitter?  What is Twitter?  How do you use it?  What are the conventions of Twitter?
    3. 3.
    4. 4. What can you do WITH Twitter?  What are some of the Twitter tools/3rd Party applications?  How can Twitter lists help?  How can Twitter help with your academic profile?  How might Twitter help in the classroom?
    5. 5. The 21st Century Learner
    6. 6. A Digital Native: Jake’s Story  “Jake … goes to that news only via the links from Digg, friends’ blogs, and Twitter. He travels all around the internet that is edited by his peers because he trusts them and knows they share his
    7. 7.  Government Report by Sir David Melville, published March 2009  The impact of new technologies on student experiences and expectations  Their use of social networking  Their adoption of new technologies  Developments at schools, colleges, campuses
    8. 8., September 2009
    9. 9. What is Twitter?
    10. 10. What is Twitter? 140 Characters known as “Tweets”  Displayed on author’s profile page  Read by subscribers (known as “Followers”) Privacy Options (not
    11. 11.
    12. 12. Different fromFacebook? More interest/thematic based Not time/geographically dependent Not as “personal” ‘I had toast’ does not cut it
    13. 13.
    14. 14. What are the conventions of Twitter?
    15. 15.
    16. 16. What is Twitterabout?  Twitter is about relationship building, you can’t just “broadcast” announcements out, you need to engage with your followers.
    17. 17. Retweets: A Markof Approval
    18. 18. #Hashtags: Following Conversations Well-known: #followfriday  We want REASONS Invent a Hashtag  Keep it short  Worth checking it’s not in use  For an event, agree beforehand.
    19. 19. #: Follow a Story 
    20. 20. Direct Messages
    21. 21. Twitter Tools/Third Party Apps
    22. 22.
    23. 23.
    24. 24. URL Shortening Services  
    25. 25.
    26. 26.
    27. 27. #fb
    28. 28.
    29. 29.
    30. 30.
    31. 31. How Can Twitter Lists Help?
    32. 32. TwitterLists: Being Followed
    33. 33. TwitterLists: Following
    34. 34. How can Twitter Help with your Academic Profile
    35. 35. Bex’s TwitterAccounts   (general tweets)  (digital education/social media tweets)   (history/ poster tweets)   (adrenalin sports tweets)
    36. 36.
    37. 37. @doclorraine, @lisaharris  Networking/Community of Interests  Follow calls for funds (@JISC)  Follow sources such as @timeshighered  Put out calls for conference papers  Crowdsource: Questions to gauge opinion  Quickly identify & share news & resources  “Attend” conferences virtually
    38. 38. Key Online Contacts  @haroldfricker  @timbuckteeth  @jamesclay  @hopkinsdavid  @c4lpt  @nwjerseyliz  @documentally
    39. 39. Technology is just a tool?
    40. 40.
    41. 41. Expressing yourself in 140 characters is a great discipline Concise summaries of arguments/ texts  Journalism  Creative Writing  Reflection Backchatter/feedback
    42. 42. BackChannelling
    43. 43. Collaboration  Performance (  Novel:
    44. 44. Crowd-sourcing  Bring the attention of good information to your students  a powerful networkavailable ‘all the time’ (
    45. 45.
    46. 46. Debate? Can we INSIST that students have Twitter?  Concerns about privacy? Set up a PRIVATE (locked) account. Is it a voluntary add-on, or can it be used as a form of assessment?
    47. 47. Why would you want to? “Twitteris anything but complicated”  Plenty of websites offering help on how to get started. Much to gain, lots to share  Save re-invention of the wheel  Widen the student learning