Saturday, 20 July 2013

10 Days of Twitter: a reflection

It was through a Google+ contact that I heard about this online course: 10 days of Twitter

This course was developed and piloted by Helen Webster (@ scholastic_rat), who's generously allowed it to be reused under a Creative Commons License (CC BY NC SA). After having clicked on the link and read about the course, I decided to register. Although I use Twitter regularly for personal and professional reasons, I felt that there was room for improvement.You never know what tips you'll pick up from this kind of course and naturally from links and resources shared by other participants. I was particularly curious about how this kind of format would work and whether or not I could do something similar with my own students or fellow teachers.

The content was delivered via the blog LD5D in the form of a brief post and it was here that instructions were given for activities. So there were two places for interaction and support: the blog and Twitter. I think a real advantage was gained from having some experienced users participate, which meant there was a kind of built-in back-up support system in place. This also reflects how Twitter is used by many. So what was it like?


Day 1
Setting up an account: I have an account and hence, was a step ahead with many others. The blog tips were useful concerning, profile picture, finding your voice, whether you want to link Twitter and Facebook or not. A few of these points generated conversation between participants and some mentioned that it made them reflect on their online identity. As the day proceeded I received a few tweets from people who I know from the Open University, from Google+ and privately, which immediately made me feel at home. A successful first day and something to be gained by all.

Day 2
What are you tweeting about? Useful tips here and practical. I tend to share links relating to English language teaching. They are often resources that I save to my pages. From these curation pages I am able to directly share with my Twitter followers. No extra work involved, just a click and it's  distributed via other social media. On day 2, we were also asked to tweet a specific message and were told we'd find out later what the purpose of this was. This  broke the ice and prompted interaction. 

Day 3
So what's all this about followers? It was helpful to read through the pointers given, as well as suggested hashtags to follow. Learned something knew here too. I'd never heard of #FF before # Follow Friday, where you can recommend people who you feel are worth following to others. The notion of following people is significant if you want to engage with others in dialogue, or keep abreast of developments in your field. This is after all where you source your information. So thinking about what you want to get out of Twitter should help guide your choice.

Day 4
This was all about messages to people and how little tricks can help you reach a broader audience. The most obvious way is to click the reply button to respond directly to another Twitter user. But knowing how to vary the degree of visibility, is not so apparent. I was aware that placing a username (@trishiels) in the middle of a message reaches a wider audience, but not, that placing a full stop before the @, has the same effect. Something for me to keep in mind. The #LD10DoT participants were quite active today and engaged in dialogue. Good to see people interacting and not just posting links that inevitably  get carried away on the information production line.

Day 5
Half way mark reached. The tips today really help to save on Twitter-space. I use Twitter to share resources but also to source information that I'm interested in and I particularly enjoy it when I meet other people. However, sharing links can mean long URLs. Fortunately we can shorten them. The #LD10DoT team supplied us with a list of helpful tools that do the job efficiently. I'm already using tinyurl and bitly, but hadn't heard of This site links to files, photos and videos can be added.

A useful reminder given today as well. Don't just churn out links. Add a personal comment, such as, why you think it's of interest, or whether you have another opinion to share. I think this helps to sort out the humans from the robots!

Day 6
Started the day by learning something new: MT. I'm familiar with retweeting (RT) and its conventions, but somewhere along the line I managed to skip the netiquette associated with modifying tweets (MT). Have to admit that I've RT'd people and cut back their quotes without acknowledging that I've made slight changes. Well now I know and will be more careful.

Day 7
Some useful reminders about hashtags, especially in relation to conferences e.g. good idea to check that what you are releasing publicly, via Twitter, is in fact meant to go public. Hashtags can cop a bit of criticism, especially when overused in a post. Nevertheless, they do serve their purpose i.e they locate groups for you and ensure that your tweet sticks to the right path.

Within my context, English language teaching (ELT), the #ELTchat is an open discussion that occurs every Wednesday. The topics are planned in advance and the results are provided as a blog post afterwards. A great way of following topics of interest  and concerns related to ELT. 

Hashtags make sense.

Day 8
So what do you do with all that information and all those people in Twitterland? Create lists and use applications such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. I've been using Tweetdeck for a while now and  haven't bothered with lists, but do see the potential. For example, if you want to curate specific content it's all in the one place, which alleviates access. 

An advantage of using an application like Tweetdeck is being able to maintain order, as well as providing a clear overview of activity. The LD5D posting today, reminded me to make more use of the time-setting possibility in Tweetdeck, particularly for business accounts. Planning in advance is a more efficient use of time. You can schedule posts to be released at times that you feel are the most appropriate for your audience.

Day 9
Numerous tips today about navigating around your personal Twitter menu and managing information. We were invited to play with a few third party applications such as Pocket, Flipboard, and I ended up choosing Pocket and added a bookmarklet to my Mac and downloaded an app for my iPhone and iPad. Let's see how many links I really read after storing them away for later perusal. 

Day 10
The 10th and final day. This brought closure to this interesting 10 day course about Twitter. The final post provided us with sensible tips concerning what to do with past and future tweets. I like the idea of using Storify to create a narrative. This is something I could put to use with my own students. The tool TAGSexplorer is also an interesting way of creating a visualization. Scheduling via Tweetdeck, as I mentioned above, is a feature I make use of for business, but I wouldn't use if for my personal tweets. 

A worthwhile journey
I'm pleased I signed up for this 10 day course. I picked up numerous tips and tricks along the way and also met some interesting people. It was a great refresher course which only took a few minutes a day. The format impressed me. The #LD10DoT's blog served as a central meeting point to deliver content but Twitter is where the majority of the dialogue and interaction  took place. 

This format is something that I'll be able to reciprocate with fellow teachers and language students. I think sometimes we tend to overcomplicate learning design. For me this was an excellent example of how to keep it simple. I feel that this course design was a suitable and effective approach for this particular purpose.

Thank you to the # LD10DoT team for all your efforts and for allowing this course to be reused. 

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