Twitter Resource Sharing Instructions – Spring 2016

Twitter Resource Sharing

For students of my spring 2016 course, ETT 570: IT Leadership, I’m sharing the following instructions regarding our Twitter Resource Sharing activities.

In addition to engaging in discussion with classmates via the discussion board in Blackboard, you will share resources and engage with the broader educational community regarding current trends and instructional technology leadership on Twitter. In doing so, you will continue to expand your perspective beyond the “walls of our course” on the issues we’ll be exploring together, while continuing to build your personal learning network. If you haven’t already setup a free Twitter account in a previous class, please do so and be prepared to “tweet” using it throughout the course. For more information on getting started with Twitter, see https://sites.google.com/site/twitterinedu

Each week, you are expected to post a minimum of 5 tweets per week using both hashtags #ett570 and #itleadership (only tweets that include both hashtags will be considered as intended for this class resource sharing activity via Twitter). Your tweets in your Twitter account need to be public in order to receive credit for participating in this weekly activity.

  • At least one tweet must have a link to an online resource regarding current module topic related to IT leadership that hasn’t already been shared by your instructor or classmates thus far in the course
  • At least one tweet must have a link to an online resource related to the topic(s) from the required reading(s) for the module that hasn’t already been shared by your instructor or classmates thus far in the course.
  • At least one tweet must be a public reply to a fellow classmate (beginning your tweet @username of the Twitter user you are responding to).
  • At least one tweet must be a public reply or mention to someone else not a member of the class (including somewhere in your tweet @username of the Twitter user you are responding to or mentioning).
  • One tweet may be a retweet (RT) of someone else

Using your preferred Twitter client, save searches of hashtags #ett570 and #itleadership and follow the streams for each hashtag throughout the course.

Also, make an effort to follow at least one new educator and/or IT leader on Twitter each week.

There will be a discussion forum in Blackboard where you can post your Twitter username to share with your classmates and begin following your instructor and fellow classmates on Twitter as you like.

DUE: end of each Module (1-12) at 11:59 pm

Using Twitter for Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development

Have you wondered what Twitter is and what if any practical applications there are for teaching and learning? Perhaps you are among the 30% of faculty who now use Twitter in some capacity and you would like to learn some tips and tricks for better utilizing Twitter in education context. During this online session offered 11/30/2012 we introduced the basics of Twitter and explored best practices for using Twitter in teaching, learning and professional development.

For archives of other online workshops offered by NIU Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, visit our YouTube channel

Best Practices Teaching with Twitter

Twitter has become a common tool for communicating and collaborating that is part blog, part social networking site, and part mobile phone/IM tool. During this session at the 2012 SLATE Conference, October 12, 2012, Jason Rhode shared his experiences of incorporating online resource sharing chat activities, via Twitter, for mobile learning in an online course, as well as practical recommendations for those considering utilizing Twitter in teaching and learning. Participants were encouraged to bring their Twitter account to participate and use hashtag #twitterinedu

Also, this HootCourse was setup and used as an example of creating a restricted Twitter group for a course. Click here to join our backchannel on HootCourse!

Session Goals

  1. Build a foundation for why educators may wish to incorporate Twitter into their teaching, learning, and professional development
  2. Give examples of what a few other educators have done thus far implementing Twitter in their teaching
  3. Share the experiences of incorporating online resource sharing chat activities, via Twitter, for mobile learning in an online course
  4. Provide practical recommendations for those considering utilizing Twitter in teaching and learning
  5. Suggest available tutorials, resources and tools for those interested in getting started

Foundation

Twitter: The sublime, mighty community in 140 characters or less
Photo courtesy @inju on Flickr

Why should educators consider incorporating Twitter in their teaching? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Extend learning experiences beyond the “walls” of the classroom
  • Bring in current events to the curriculum
  • Engage students within lecture-based instruction
  • Connect students from across multiple sections or institutions
  • Reach out to experts in the field
  • Pull the world into your classroom
  • Introduce students to informal professional development

What other reasons come to mind for why educators may want to use Twitter in their teaching? Tweet your ideas using hashtag #twitterinedu

Examples

Here are a few examples of educators who have already leveraged Twitter in their teaching

Are you aware of other examples of educators using Twitter? Tweet links to examples using hashtag #twitterinedu

Literature

What research has been conducted thus far on the use of Twitter in education? Here are links to a few studies:

In addition, Jason Rhode maintains a collection of articles on Twitter in education bookmarked here.

Have another research article you’d recommend be added to this list? Tweet links to articles using hashtag #twitterinedu

Twitter beach
Photo courtesy @rosauraochoa on Flickr

Experiences

TwitterIn my summer 2012 course, EDT 6060 – Trends and Future of Technology in Education, I tried for the very first time incorporating a required Twitter chat exercise into the weekly activities. My goal in doing so was to expand the discussion beyond the scope of the typical Blackboard discussion space and to encourage my students to begin engaging in conversations with others within the field. Since we were looking at current events within the field of educational technology, this was the perfect course to incorporate such an activity on Twitter given the plethora of resources and fantastic ongoing conversations that take place on Twitter.

At the conclusion of the course, my students reflected on their learning experiences in the course. Here are a few quotes from my students concerning the Twitter chats that I wanted to share here in support of these sort of social networking activities within the online learning environment:

Even if a teacher/colleague has not yet embraced technology, they should still try to read journal articles either in print or online to stay breadth of the current technologies being offered. Perhaps one of those articles will spark an interest – as it is that spark that will move us into action. I think that people are scared by Twitter or have not experienced it enough to know that it is a way to view up to date information on topics of interest. I would bet that many teacher view Twitter like they view Facebook, as I was one of those in the past. All it takes is one person to force the teachers to use Twitter and they will start to see the benefits. And, I would like to say thank you Dr. J. for forcing me to Twitter, as I love it!

I never thought Twitter could be used in such a professional way for my job! I am so thankful to add this skill to my ways to keep up with new and changing educational advances!

I feel really proud of the progress that I’ve made (using Twitter in this course), but there’s a whole world on Twitter to explore and learn more about edtech. The articles are fascinating!

Twitter is awesome! I will definitely be checking it often and am going to let staff know of its benefits next year.

For anyone interested, below are the instructions for the Twitter chat assignments that I included in my course syllabus. You’re welcome to make use of these instructions or revise for your specific needs. If you find this idea helpful and/or if you plan to try in your own teaching, leave me a comment and let me know!

Twitter Resource Sharing Chat Instructions

In addition to engaging in discussion with classmates via the discussion board in Blackboard, you will share resources and engage with the broader educational community regarding current trends and future of technology in education on Twitter. In doing so, you will continue to expand your perspective beyond the "walls of our course" on the issues we’ll be exploring together.personal learning network and expand your If you haven’t already setup a free Twitter account in a previous class, please do so and be prepared to “tweet” using it throughout the course. For more information on getting started with Twitter, see https://sites.google.com/site/twitterinedu

Each week, you are expected to post a minimum of 5 tweets per week using both hashtags #edt6060 and #edtechtrends (only tweets that include both hashtags will be considered as intended for this class chat via Twitter).

  • At least one tweet must have a link to an online resource regarding current technology trends of future of educational technology that hasn’t already been shared by your instructor or classmates thus far in the course
  • At least one tweet must have a link to an online resource related to the topic(s) from the required reading(s) for the week that hasn’t already been shared by your instructor of classmates thus far in the course.
  • At least one tweet must be a public reply to a fellow classmate (beginning your tweet @username of the Twitter user you are responding to).
  • At least one tweet must be a public reply or mention to someone else not a member of the class (including somewhere in your tweet @username of the Twitter user you are responding to or mentioning).
  • One tweet may be a retweet (RT) of someone else

Using your preferred Twitter client, save searches of hashtags #edt6060 and #edtechtrends and follow the streams for each hashtag throughout the course.

Also, make an effort to follow at least one new educator on Twitter each week. For a directory of educators on Twitter, you may want to search Twitter directories such as wefollow.com, twellow.com, or tweetfind.com

What has your experience been using Twitter in your teaching, learning, or professional development? Tweet your experiences using hashtag #twitterinedu

Recommendations

Twitter: Good & Bad
Image courtesy @rosauraochoa on Flickr

Here are recommendations for those getting started teaching with Twitter:

  1. Setup an account for yourself and follow a few other educators. The first step is for you yourself to initially become comfortable with using Twitter and to learn from your own experience whether or not Twitter is right for you. After you setup a free account at twitter.com, then follow a few others. For starters, you may want to follow me at @jrhodee and my NIU colleagues @slrichter and @jeffminor. Other great places to find other Twitter users include directories like WeFollow.com or Twellow.com
  2. Use a Twitter app. While you can use Twitter from any web broswer, it is even easier to do so from a tablet or smart phone. If you have a mobile device, find an install a Twitter app and start using it. In the tools section below, links to recommended apps are shared.
  3. Try participating in a Twitter chat. As you begin following other educators, you may see mention of participating in a "twitter chat." This is simply a specified time during the week when individuals with similar interests engage in a chat on a specified topic using a chosen hashtag.
  4. Create a separate account for your class **optional**. If you’d like to keep course-specific tweets separate from your individual Twitter account, you can setup a separate Twitter account for your class. Examples include @wd1231 & @edt6030.
  5. Select a hashtag for your class and include it in your posts regarding the class. Select a unique hashtag and search Twitter to see if it is already in use. If not, then begin using it yourself to establish.
  6. Have your students who use Twitter follow you and use the designated hashtag in their course-related tweets. Include in your syllabus or other course information areas your Twitter username (or the Twitter username you’ve setup for your course) and remind students that they can follow you on Twitter.
  7. Set clear expectations for students on Twitter use in your course. Decide how you will use Twitter and then clearly communicate to students your expectations for their use of Twitter (if you require or simply make it an option) and let them know how/why you will use it.
  8. Post announcements, news, and other information items of interest using your selected hashtag. At a minimum, you can use Twitter to post news items for students.
  9. Set clear expectations for students on Twitter use in your course. Decide how you will use Twitter and then clearly communicate to students your expectations for their use of Twitter (if you require or simply make it an option) and let them know how/why you will use it.
  10. Create a list for each section and/or all students and add students to the list for easy sorting and viewing without following. If you prefer to not follow your students (personal preference), you can create a list and add all your students to your list. Once doing so, you’ll be able to easily view all tweets for a class section.
  11. Save a search of your course hashtag for easy access. Once saving a search, you can easily then return to that search from within your preferred Twitter app on Twitter.com
  12. Follow your institution. See if your institution is on Twitter, and follow!
  13. Don’t feel like you need to read all tweets from users your follow. Twitter is more like a stream than a pond…information just keeps flowing by constantly. Just dip in and dip out as you are able and enjoy!

What recommendations do you have for educators looking to get started teaching with Twitter? Tweet your experiences using hashtag #twitterinedu

Tutorials and Guides

Want to get started with Twitter? Here are some suggested tutorials and printable help guides:

Know of another Twitter tutorial that you’d recommend for educators? Tweet links to tutorials using hashtag #twitterinedu

Resources

Social Media for Educators - book by Tanya Joosten
book by @tjoosten

Here are additional suggested resources offering additional perspectives and best practices for educators on teaching with Twitter:

Have another Twitter-related resource for educators that you recommend? Tweet links to tutorials using hashtag #twitterinedu

Tools

Recommended free and/or low cost tools include:

  • Audioboo – mobile app for iOS, Android & Nokia, easily record audio podcasts from your mobile device and post directly to Twitter (free)
  • Bit.ly – create and track custom short URLs (free)
  • Bufferapp.com – setup free account to “buffer” your tweets to be sent later, also makes it easy to tweet via email (free)
  • Flipboard – app for tablet or smart phone to create magazine-style view of tweets for specific course hashtag (free)
  • HootCourse – create secured Twitter channel for your course (free)
  • HootSuite – powerful Twitter management tool, allows for scheduling of tweets (free & premium versions)
  • IFTTT.com – automate various types of posts to/from Twitter (free)
  • Packrati.us – bookmark your Twitter links (free)
  • Screenr.com – easily record screencasts up to 5 mins. in length with no software to install and share via Twitter (free)
  • Tweetbot – preferred Twitter app for iOS, syncs multiple iOS devices using iCloud ($??)
  • Twijector – utility for showing stream of Tweets full-screen during class (free)
  • Twitcam – live stream via Twitter; Twitcam posts your video description and link to Twitter for all your followers to see. While broadcasting, chat with your viewers via Twitter right from your broadcast page. Once you’re done going live, video is archived and displayed on the same page.
  • twitrand – select random twitter follower
  • TwitterFeed – utility for automatically posting new items from any RSS feed to Twitter (free)
  • Twtpoll – conduct polls easily via Twitter (free)
  • Visible Tweets – utility for showing random tweets for a specified hashtag, transitions between (free)

Do you use another Twitter tool that you recommend? Tweet your suggested tools using hashtag #twitterinedu

A Teacher’s Guide to Social Media

This infographic compiled by OnlineColleges.net shares some of the many ways educators have incorporated social media into the classroom.

A Teacher’s Guide to Social Media

The following previously posted infographics related to social media might also be of interest:

10 Tips for Getting Started Teaching with Twitter

In response to my recent post sharing reflections of my students concerning Twitter chats in a recent blended course I taught, I was interviewed by Jennifer Funk from the ed tech blog edcetera to share more of my thoughts on the use of Twitter for developing a personal learning network. The resulting article is available here and below I’ve included the full interview transcript.

Twitter app
photo CC-BY hankenstein

Q: From a pedagogical standpoint, what is the value of integrating Twitter into the curriculum?

Twitter broadens the conversation beyond the confines of classroom, allowing for others who also may have insights and resources to share to be included in the conversation. In a social-constructivist approach to teaching that relies upon students actively engaging with the subject matter and sharing their ideas with others, any venue whereby students are able to easily share their ideas, additional resources they may find, as well as converse with one another and their instructor is worth considering. Twitter is indeed a fantastic tool for students to not only share their perspectives on issues, but to also to share links to additional resources as well as to engage in conversations with experts in their field of study.

Since one of my goals in my teaching is to help my graduate students (who are all in-service teachers) build their own individual personal learning networks that they can continued to develop long after they finish my course and even their graduate program, I currently see Twitter as a must-use tool for my students in building their personal learning networks. When introducing students to Twitter, they are often hesitant initially to setup a new social network account. However, after becoming familiar with the tool and understanding how “tweets” can be far more than just text status updates, but include links, photos, and even video, I find that my students truly embrace use of Twitter and find it to be a valuable tool in their own professional development. As they follow other educators, they build a network of colleagues and resources that they continue to learn from and learn with the rest of their lives!

The fact that Twitter is such a dynamic tool and it is optimized for mobile devices is another compelling reason for incorporating it into the curriculum. With the proliferation of mobile devices and preferences for many students to use their mobile device in place of other traditional desktop and laptop computers, technologies that are designed for mobile use are much more likely to be easily incorporated into the curriculum. No matter what mobile platform a student may have, there is guaranteed to be a mobile app available that makes it easy not only follow, but also contribute to a conversation on Twitter, anytime, anywhere!

Twitter is also very flexible and can be utilized in numerous ways, both within the classroom as well as outside to continue a conversation. Faculty who teach large lecture sections could incorporate Twitter as a backchannel for students to ask questions, reflect on their learning, and engage in a dialogue during a lecture. Those who teach smaller sections, labs, or online courses can make use of Twitter to provide news and updates, provide links to additional resources, or even simply seed thoughts for discussion. While Twitter is primarily an asynchronous form of communication, the ability for real-time updates and search of what others are contributing right now make it a fantastic tool for current events and following public conversations in real-time. If one wishes to keep their tweets private and restricted to only a few select followers, that capability is also available. The true value however in Twitter is that conversations are public, allowing for anyone/anywhere to contribute.

Q: Realizing that fear (loss of control, loss of time, etc.) is a deterrent for many professors who might be otherwise interested in using social networks with students, what hesitations did you have about using Twitter with yours, and most importantly, what policies/procedures/strategies did you put in place to minimize the risk factors?

A cautious approach to using social networking tools with students is certainly advisable. In deciding to try using Twitter in my teaching, there were a number of hesitations that I needed to overcome. First, I was concerned about protecting the privacy of both my students and myself, not wanting to give too much personal information. I didn’t really want to see personal tweets from my students, nor did I want to merge my own personal social networking activities with those for my teaching. I also was unsure as to how I might best encourage my students to participate. I did want them to regularly participate on Twitter, but also needed to maintain the graded discussion activities hosted within the learning management system (LMS).

I also wasn’t sure if I would need to, or how I would, manage the volume of posts from students. I was used to years of teaching primarily with the discussion board tool and was conditioned to always reading every post that student would make. I wasn’t sure how much students would make use of Twitter and as a result, how much extra reading would I need to do in order to keep up with the conversations that were taking place.

Overall, I needed to come to grips with the realization that I could not “control the experience” in the same way as I had traditionally controlled discussions within the LMS. While I could provide guidelines and expectations for the students, they ultimately could post anything they wanted and there was a risk of the discussion diverging from it’s intended path. While this “risk” always existed within the LMS, the difference was that the environment of the LMS is controlled (with only the students and myself being able to view the conversations), whereas the public nature of Twitter potentially exposes any conversation to be access by anyone.

After deciding to try using Twitter in my teaching, there were a number of decisions that I needed to make in terms of how I personally would interact with my students on Twitter. I decided I would keep sharing personal “what I’m doing now” types of information to a minimum, but wouldn’t completely abstain from all personal information. I would occasionally share a photo or a more personal bit of info so students would feel as though there were able to connect with me on a more personal level.

I selected a hashtag for the course, beginning with the # sign, that wasn’t already being used prevalently on Twitter that I would post all course-related tweets to and would instruct students to do the same. Hashtags that I have used include: #edt6030 #edt6040 #edt6060 #wd1231

I scheduled regular times each day to check Twitter, generally once in the morning, around lunchtime, and in the evening. I found that I was able to quickly read and respond to the latest tweets from my students and didn’t need to spend as much time reading and responding as I typically spend within the discussion board in the LMS.

I drafted detailed expectations and instructions for my participating. I included these expectations in my syllabus and discussed them with students during our first class meeting together. I found numerous examples already online for how other educators where using Twitter in formulating my own approach. I recommend taking a look at available Twitter rubrics, such as the one shared by the University of Wisconsin – Stout here. In my most recent course section taught, I required students to tweet, with details of my expectations and a summary of the feedback that resulted from my students here. However, I’ve also in other courses made Twitter simply an optional mode of communication that students can choose to engage with me in if they wish.

I informed students prior to our first class meeting together of the expectation to “tweet” for the course and asked students to sign-up for Twitter accounts prior to class. I encouraged students to bring their mobile devices to our first f2f class session and introduced Twitter to my students during that first class session. We discussed together the options for keeping their accounts private or public, but after we discussed the value of allowing others from outside our class to participate in the discussions, the unanimous decision was made to keep our accounts public.

At several different points throughout the course, I specifically asked my students how the experience using Twitter was going and I we were able to work through a few additional questions that they had. The students found Twitter to be very easy to use, once they understood the basics and by the end of the course, students in the course where they were required to tweet each week, had unanimously found Twitter to be of great value to their own personal learning.

Q: You write that one of your goals in creating the Twitter assignment was to “expand the discussion beyond the scope of the typical Blackboard discussion space”; what is your reasoning for moving conversations outside of controlled environments and into public social networks? In what way can this kind of activity not necessarily replace what you do on Blackboard, but instead support it?

There were several reasons why I wanted to move certain conversations outside of the controlled environment of the LMS and into a public social networks. First of all, using a public social network allows others from outside the class section to contribute. For example, in the instance where more than one section of a course is being taught, students can engage in conversations with students, and other faculty as well, from across the various sections, but even beyond to students from around the world interested in that subject matter! Having a single conversation that students from multiple sections, as well as other faculty or experts who may wish to contribute, poses some fascinating opportunities for conversations and resource sharing!

Another reason I chose to make us of a social networking site was that conversations within a social network live on after the course ends, whereas conversations within the course discussion board end when the course does. I didn’t want the resource sharing and collaboration activities to end when the course did, but wanted the experience to have the potential of being more transformative in that students would develop personal learning networks that they could continue developing after the course was over.

I did not abandon the secure discussion boards for the course. I still find secured discussion within the LMS to be effective for more in-depth, academic conversations where students are honing their academic writing skills and expressing their ideas in more substantive way. Many LMS’s have integrated assessment tools that aid in the evaluation of contributions to discussion boards, still making them very efficient and effective for in-depth conversations. But, for select discussion activities that are more surface-level, using Twitter can certainly be a viable alternative

Q: How long had you been a Twitter user before integrating it into your curriculum?

While I had been using Twitter for over a year before I finally began integrating it into my curriculum, that amount of use prior to incorporating into the curriculum isn’t necessary. After just a few weeks of use, one should be comfortable tweeting and be able to begin considering ways to implement. A familiarity and comfort level with the features of Twitter is all that is necessary.

Q: For those faculty who have not yet familiarized themselves with the platform, what resources or strategies do you suggest they employ prior to attempting to use it with students? Or, do you believe there is value in learning alongside students?

I do believe there is value in learning Twitter alongside students, but a basic familiarity is helpful and will greatly increase the likelihood for a successful integration in the curriculum. For that reason, here are a few resources to review and recommendations from my own experience that I would pass along to any educator getting started with Twitter in their teaching:

  1. Become familiar with Twitter yourself first. You don’t need to be a Twitter expert and can learn to an extent alongside your students, but I feel you do need an initial familiarity with the process of posting to Twitter, following others, retweeting (aka: forwarding tweets from others), following hashtag searches, and sending direct messages. A good place to start is to view the “Twitter Basics” and “Extending Twitter” tutorials. For even more resources, see jasonrhode.com/tag/twitter
  2. Install the Twitter app on your mobile device and start using Twitter consistently (daily). While you can login to twitter.com to check see the latest tweets in your stream, if you do have a mobile device, you will likely find that accessing Twitter via an app is a quicker and equally effective way to follow the conversations of your students.
  3. Follow several other educators on Twitter and see how they are using Twitter. There are many great directories of Twitter users you might consider checking out where you can find other Twitter users to follow, such as wefollow.com, twellow.com, or tweetfind.com. You also can feel free to follow me @jrhode.
  4. Read the book, “Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices” by Tanya Joosten. This book is a fantastic primer for anyone looking to incorporate social media, including Twitter, in their teaching. You can grab a copy of the book from Amazon here.
  5. Let others know that you are on Twitter. Include your Twitter username in your email signature, in presentations you give at professional conferences, etc.
  6. Setup a saved search for your course hashtag that you can then follow. I mentioned earlier the importance of selecting a course hashtag and instructing students to include the course hashtag in any course-related tweets. To easily follow just the course-related tweets from your students (and not necessarily all the tweets from your students), do a search for your course hashtag and save that search either on your mobile Twitter app or at twitter.com. In doing so, you’ll be able to quickly select that saved search and see the latest course tweets.
  7. Setup a private list each course section you teach and add students to that course-specific list as well as a separate list of students. Lists within Twitter are wonderful for creating a subset of users that you wish to follow. I recommend creating a list called “students” where you can add all your students as well as separate lists for each of the sections you teach. Add students to whichever list corresponds to their section. As long as you keep your lists private, you will be the only person who can see the collection of tweets sorted by either all your students or just the students for a particular section. If you ever need to see all the tweets from a subset of your students, or from all your students, you’ll then be able to do so by accessing your lists.
  8. Don’t feel like you must read every tweet from everyone you follow. Twitter isn’t like email where you have an inbox that fills up with emails you receive from others. Rather, Twitter can be compared to a stream that is continually flowing. The more people you follow on Twitter, the harder it will become to read everything that those you follow post. That’s ok! Twitter let’s you see what individuals are saying right now. It is for this reason again that if you want to engage with students via Twitter, I suggest that you login on a daily basis to keep up with the flow of conversation.
  9. Add a Twitter widget to your course. Make it easy for your students to see the latest course-related tweets when they login to your course. One way of doing this is to create a Twitter widget and and embed within your course that will scroll the latest new tweets for a specified hashtag. See the quick video tutorial here for creating a Twitter widget and posting embedding it in Blackboard. The process would be similar for any other LMS.
  10. If you blog already, feed your blog posts to your Twitter account. Now this is an advanced recommendation, but if you do already have a blog, consider using Twitter as another means of sharing with others the content that you are blog. You can use a free utility like IFTTT.com, twiterfeed.com, or some other tool that will allow you to automatically share your blog contributions on Twitter. These new tweets that are automatically posted to your Twitter account from our blog will contain a link to the blog article, driving followers back to your blog.
  11. Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

    Let me just encourage you again to give Twitter a try! I’d love to hear more of your experience using Twitter in your teaching. You can “tweet me” @jrhode