Twitter Decoded: Part 1 (or a bit of background on the buzz about the birdie)

Introduction

A couple of months ago, I was asked to facilitate a round-table discussion about the use of smartphones in the classroom and examine ways in which instructors might be able to harness the power of these devices for educational purposes instead of seeing them as a bane to their existence.  For the discussion, I created a WallWisher wall where I posted a few ideas and several tools I’ve found to be helpful.  (Sidebar:  Wallwisher has recently changed its name to Padlet, but that’s another story.)  The discussion was lively and the opinions ranged from “If I see a phone out in class, I take it.” to “I can see how it might work, but I don’t know how to make it work” to “I’ve done something like this!”  We had a great talk, and after the discussion, I shared several great e-mail exchanges with faculty who wanted to know more about the ideas.  Among the topics, tools, and techniques we discussed, the conversation continually found its way back to Twitter.  During the discussion, I realized that many of our faculty had either never used Twitter at all or had never considered ways in which it could be used in the classroom.

My Own Experience on Twitter

I got my first Twitter account in 2009.  Initially, I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, but I figured I needed to familiarize myself with the platform in the event that it became the next big thing or something, because it would be unthinkable for a self-respecting geek such as myself to not be hip on the next big thing before it becomes the next big thing.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.  I entered in some of my interests and Twitter suggested some folks for me to follow.  I obliged and before I knew it, I was following a bunch of people who were tweeting about one of my favorite topics… the New York Yankees.  I’m typically pretty shy until I get to know people.  I stay quiet and reserved and don’t always know what to say.  So for a while, I didn’t participate in the conversations.  I’d just watch them roll by and laugh at the jokes, argue (in my head) with the fans of other teams, and generally stand in the corner, being my wallflower self.  Occasionally, I’d throw out a comment, and every once it a while I’d get a response or even (gasp!) a retweet.  Don’t worry, I’ll explain what all these terms mean later.

It took me a few months of Tweeting to find my way around and to feel totally comfortable with the environment. But about a year later, I thought it might be time to use Twitter with my workstuff.  Eventually, I found it difficult to separate the flood of baseball tweets from the technology and education tweets, so I decided to open a second Twitter account (@rhargismccc) specifically for work purposes.

Now I maintain two separate Twitter accounts, and it’s worked out quite nicely for me.  I still don’t post a whole lot or join into a lot of conversations, but I get a lot of great information from other #edtech professionals and have come to appreciate the value of the platform.

So what’s next?

That’s it for this post.  I just wanted to drop a little bit of introductory stuff so you’d get an idea of what I’m doing and where I’m taking this.  In the next episode, I’ll introduce the basics of how to use Twitter.

Til then…

~r

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