Twitter in the classroom


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A guide for librarians for using Twitter as a means to teach information literacy. Presentation for Easy Bib Summer Professional Development Series. July 10, 2013.

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Twitter in the classroom

  1. 1. A guide for librarians for teaching information literacy in a social media universe Presented by Neil Krasnoff @txlibraryguy An Easy Bib Summer Professional Development Presentation July 10, 2013
  2. 2. Driving Question for today How has Twitter changed the world of information and how can teacher-librarians adapt to the new landscape?
  3. 3. Pre-requisites for this presentation  Previous participation on Twitter or a belief that librarians must participate in this forum  Some experience teaching secondary or college students information literacy strategies or a belief in its importance  A positive attitude about social media and a belief that teaching skills related to Twitter is critical for preparing Young Adults for college and career
  4. 4. Imagine if we were Driver’s Ed instructors… And we had little or no experience driving And our lessons only focus on what NOT to do And lessons NEVER take place in an actual car Source: Dan Haesler
  5. 5. My Biography (going backwards) 40-something dad of a 1-year old On Twitter (@txlibraryguy) since 2010 On Facebook since 2008 A High School Librarian since 2001 Began education career as science teacher 1994 Lifelong introvert, learner and amateur researcher
  6. 6. My Experience during DFW Tornados April 3, 2012*368/TrucksTossed040312_722x406_2219054846.jpg
  7. 7. Chronology April 3, 2012  11:20 Eating lunch and looking at Twitter  11:22 Notice Tweet about tornados in DFW  11:23 I tell principal 5 minutes before warning siren  11:40 Students and staff in interior hallway to duck and cover  12:05 I am with students and continue to check Twitter for info about #tornados while colleague films the funnel cloud that destroyed truck stop in previous picture.  12:55 I tweet after 1st duck and cover  1:02 Another tornado warning and back to duck and cover.  1:05 I exchange tweets with member of Twitter PLN in DFW
  8. 8. My Twitter activity during DFW April 3, 2012
  9. 9. Lessons learned about Twitter during DFW tornados of April 2012  Early alert, preceded tornado warning by 20 minutes  Emotional support from shared experience  Potential for thousands of journalists reporting on scene  During tornados many Tweets were unreliable with no way to verify  Key information was actually missing when it really counted  Most people are too afraid or occupied to play this role Pros Cons
  10. 10. Topics of presentation  The importance for librarians to participate on Twitter in order to teach information literacy  Compare and contrast information search and research process before Twitter and after  Tweet citation and a little about decoding of Tweets  Case studies of hoaxes and conspiracy theories to understand pros and cons of Twitter as information source  Guidance for creating Twitter-centric learning experiences that promote information literacy
  11. 11. Changes Wrought by Twitter Before Twitter In Twitter era In print world, ‘current’ could mean last year or last month or last week Information from yesterday or minutes ago is often no longer current Selling point of library databases was credibility, superior content and ease of citation, determining authorship, etc. Library databases are free of noise and distraction. Better environment for deeper learning in addition to predictability and reliability. Credibility synonymous with well- established authors and publishers and respected journals Twitter users earn credibility through self-promotion and users must use their own methods to decide who is credible Information search and social networking separate Information and social networking inter- linked, often related to marketing and political persuasion
  12. 12. MLA Tweet Citation Using one of the most famous historical Tweets: Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet. Notice the entire Tweet fits in the citation!!!!!!!
  13. 13. Rules for MLA Tweet Citation  Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.  Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet).
  14. 14. Finer points of MLA Tweet Citation The date and time of a message on Twitter reflect the reader’s time zone. Readers in different time zones see different times and, possibly, dates on the same tweet. The date and time that were in effect for the writer of the tweet when it was transmitted are normally not known. Thus, the date and time displayed on Twitter are only approximate guides to the timing of a tweet. However, they allow a researcher to precisely compare the timing of tweets as long as the tweets are all read in a single time zone. In the main text of the paper, a tweet is cited in its entirety (6.4.1): Sohaib Athar noted that the presence of a helicopter at that hour was “a rare event.” Source:
  15. 15. Top Influencers of Twitterverse Celebrities/Entertainers dominate top 100 #1 #2 Both Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga have over 40 million followers. Source: Twiitter accounts are managed professionally to engage fans and promote artist.
  16. 16. #4 is ‘President Obama’ • This account is run by Organizing for Action and is designed to inform supporters of the President of upcoming efforts to further his agenda in Congress. • Like Gaga and Bieber, it’s run by highly paid professionals whose main goal is to keep loyal fans/supporters and attract new customers/voters
  17. 17. Traditional Media-Twitter Winners CNN (Breaking News) 12.2 Million Followers New York Times 8.7 Million followers Time Magazine 4.7 Million followers The Economist 3.4 Million followers Wired Magazine 2 Million followers Winner= Twitter following higher or nearly equal to previous circulation
  18. 18. Traditional Media-Twitter Losers Daily Beast (formerly Newsweek) 585,000 followers Bloomberg BusinessWeek 273,000 followers Reader’s Digest 48,800 followers EBSCO Databases 6,012 followers Loser= Twitter following substantially lower than peak circulation or userbase
  19. 19. Internet Hoaxes before Twitter • Bogus information spread relatively slowly, but could persist • Most sophisticated internet users not fooled • Opportunity to refute urban legends/hoaxes ( • Librarians used deliberate hoaxes to teach information literacy
  20. 20. Internet Hoaxes on Twitter • Bogus information spreads incredibly quickly • Sophisticated and interested parties often fooled • Hoax lifespan usually short • To succeed, one must fool gatekeepers or hack their Twitter account
  21. 21. Apple Screw Hoax Timeline August, 2012  Hoax masters in Sweden post fake internal email from Apple with pictures and schematics of ‘asymmetric’ screw to Reddit. Coincides with morning in Silicon Valley  Spreads virally via Reddit to blogs and then Twitter. DIY Jailbreakers and Tech insiders are main audience.  Mainstream news Websites including Yahoo and Wired pick up story by evening  Rumor thrives and Twitter and millions believe story for days.
  22. 22. Wired Magazine on fake Apple Screw Tweet 4:30pm on August 8, 2013-First day of hoax
  23. 23. Wired Magazine on fake Apple Screw Tweet 5 days later August 13, 2013
  24. 24. Wired Magazine: custom-screws-wont-stop-the-diy-community/ A Wednesday posting on Reddit shows an asymmetrical screw, allegedly designed by Apple, that would be impossible to remove with tools currently available on the market. While the authenticity of the screw is in question, and while such a screw would certainly slow down the device dissection efforts of average users, no one should fear that any specially designed screw would keep out serious DIYers for long. Wired reached out to iFixit co-founder Kyle Wiens to ask his opinion on the legitimacy of the design. According to Wiens, the design is a bit too far-fetched: “My gut feel is that this isn’t from Apple. The threads are unrealistic, and I suspect that a head like that is too complex to use as a tool head. Existing tool designs tend to be simple because the head needs to withstand a fair amount of torque.” There’s also the issue of price. “If this is an Apple design, it looks like it would be expensive to manufacture. Apple uses tiny screws, and that’s a very complex screw head,” Wiens said, adding in an email, “Tiny + Mechanically Complex = Money.”
  25. 25. What do hoaxes on Twitter teach?  The role of fact checking by traditional journalists such as of Wired Magazine is still important  Reading thoroughly, beneath headline is important . Must click on link in Tweet.  Retweeting mindlessly is a sure way to lose credibility. Critical thinking is vital to maintaining credibility
  26. 26. Conspiracy Theories  Because Web 2.0 forums such as Blogs, YouTube and Twitter give every user a platform, they are a perfect venue for all sorts of conspiracy-minded individuals and groups  Unlike hoaxes, which their originators do not to believe, Conspiracy communities have a commitment to telling the ‘truth’ as they see it.  Examples of large conspiracy communities: Anti-Vaccine movement, 9-11 Truth, Obama Birthers, ‘New World Order’ conspiracies
  27. 27. Anti-Vaccination Conspiracy Search Entity Anti-Vacc results “Vaccines” (top 10) 0/10 7/10 (discounting results for band called “Vaccines”) 9/10 (discounting results for band called “Vaccines”) Ranking of top Pro-Vaccine Result 1st 1st 8th Top Anti-Vaccine result activity NA 42 Tweets 4,277 followers 62,726 Views Top Pro-Vaccine Result activity NA 92 Retweets 6,146 followers 33,949 Views
  28. 28. Pro-Vaccine vs. Anti-Vaccine Influencers on Twitter Pro-Vaccine influencers Anti-Vaccine influencers Gates Foundation 967,000 followers Jenny McCarthy 945,000 followers Ask a Doctor 868,000 followers Info Wars-Alex Jones 216,000 followers UN World Health Organization 812,000 followers Rob Schneider (comedian) 120,316 followers
  29. 29. What do Hoaxes and Conspiracies tell us about Twitter as an info source? While perpetuators of bogus information are active on Twitter, the majority of users’ concern for their reputation is a powerful preventer of the spread of false rumors. Anonymity is not as prevalent as on YouTube where conspiracies and hoaxes thrive. For more information about the Anti-Vaccine issue on Twitter see: to-participate-in-the-vaccine-debate-head-to-twitter/
  30. 30. Comparisson/Contrast Hoaxes  Succeed by exploiting speed of Web and trust relationships  Hoaxes are vanquished by correct information and prevented by careful research/critical thinking Conspiracies  Spread due to egalitarian and participatory nature of Web  Conspiracies persist in information bubbles where all contrary evidence is dismissed or not noticed.
  31. 31. How Info Lit instruction can address conspiracies and hoaxes  Teach triangulation (using 3 disparate sources)  Stress critical thinking and impulse control (hoaxes only)  Do exercises illustrating confirmation bias (evidence fitting deeply held beliefs)  Compare and contrast videos on YouTube that are conspiracy-oriented vs. those that are not  Model information seeking strategies that are designed to avoid the information bubble. Twitter is the best platform for doing so!
  32. 32. When talking to students about Twitter… Do  Emphasize positive potential of Twitter  Tell about your experiences  Provide suggestions for who to follow (organizations, journalists, authors, etc) Don’t • Emphasize ‘dangers’ of Twitter • Confess to being a Twitter novice • Tell them what not to do (unless a serious disciplinary issue)
  33. 33. Topics for direct teaching  Credible vs. non-credible sources on Twitter  Triangulation and verifying sources  Plagiarism vs. Retweeting  Source types on Twitter: Original, Synthesis, Derivative vs. their traditional corollaries (primary secondary, tertiary)
  34. 34. Research Topics suited for Twitter  Disasters and terrorist attacks-provide excellent opportunity to talk about source types including conspiracy sources  Other Current Events-Analyze facts, perspectives, analysis and opinions  Careers and Colleges-Chance to hear from real people in certain careers and fields of study
  35. 35. Let’s Play ‘Should I Cite This?’ Rules: 1. Imagine you are doing a college and career project 2. Look at each of the following Tweet slides on “Best College Majors” for 5 seconds 3. Do one of the following : A. Send Chat message with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘depends’ B. If on Twitter use #ShouldICiteThis and mention @EasyBib and @txlibraryguy. Give a short explanation for why or why not Tweet should be cited
  36. 36. Should I Cite This? –Tweet #1
  37. 37. Should I Cite This? –Tweet #2
  38. 38. Should I Cite This? –Tweet #3
  39. 39. Should I Cite This? –Tweet #4
  40. 40. Should I Cite This? –Tweet #5
  41. 41. Thanks for playing and listening!  Questions? Comments?  Concluding Remarks  Follow up conversations? Mention @txlibraryguy on Twitter  Further reading or additional information? Will share EasyBib Bibliography with comments to anyone interested. Send email to
  42. 42. A guide for librarians for teaching information literacy in a social media universe Presented by Neil Krasnoff @txlibraryguy An Easy Bib Summer Professional Development Presentation July 10, 2013