Tuesday, July 8, 2008

tt4t_044 Using Twitter at NECC 2008

It’s Tuesday, July 8th, 2008 and welcome to episode 44 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. I am back from the National Educational Computing Conference held last week in San Antonio, Texas and had a great time. I met many new people including a couple of TechTalk4Teachers listeners and have learned many new things to share with others. While at NECC I was also amazed at what a small world it is. I have been using Twitter for a while now and the recent trip to San Antonio has caused me to re-evaluate the way I am using this free service.

To listen click on the Play button >

Download MP3

For those unfamiliar with Twitter it is simply a micro-blogging service where people post short messages limited to 140 characters telling others what they are doing. It is very simple in concept and if used with a purpose I believe Twitter has a lot of potential for professional development needs and keeping up-to-date with changes in the field.

Let me say that despite all the availability problems that Twitter has experienced recently I still find Twitter quite useful, especially for expanding my horizons with fellow educational technology users across the world. Twitter was particularly helpful when I was attending the NECC conference.

Here is a debriefing on my current thoughts about my Twitter experience while at NECC. First, I am re-evaluating my Twitter name as I was surprised at the number of educators that were using Twitter at NECC. I also found that having a Twitter name like eiuitc is a bit cryptic for the average user and not easily remembered. I originally picked this name to remain somewhat anonymous and to reflect my position at the Eastern Illinois University Instructional Technology Center. I found out last week that sharing a Twitter name like eiuitc with others was not easily identifiable by people unfamiliar with Eastern.

Another reason I chose the eiuitc name was to remain somewhat private about my identity as everything that is posted on Twitter is archived and searchable to the world. The other problem with Twitter is keeping my different roles separate such as work life from private life. After meeting fellow Twitter users last week in person I have decided to change my Twitter name to my real name and that way when I meet others and I share my Twitter name they will better know my identity and can more easily find me on Twitter. So from now on if you would like to follow me on Twitter you can follow me at twitter.com/tomgrissom

I have also purposefully kept the number of people I follow to a small number and after using the Twitter service for some time now I believe I am now ready to expand the number of people I follow. I know I do this at the risk of being overwhelmed by the number of Twitter messages that I receive but I do think I will find value if I carefully select the people I follow. The other potential danger is that I will select people that I follow with a similar mind set to my own and I need to be aware that I need diversity in the types of people I follow to get a more rounded perspective of the twitterverse.

Another problem of following many people on Twitter is the distinct possibility that I will not be able to keep up with all the tweets of people I follow so there needs to be a balance between quantity and quality of tweets that I receive in order for Twitter to be beneficial to me. A tweet is simply a Twitter message. I still find Twitter to be too haphazard to be used as a direct correspondence and I still mainly rely on my email accounts for business correspondence as Twitter can be too fast-paced to keep up with. If you follow more than a twenty people there is a good chance you will not be able to read everyones tweets.

So here I am again creating another Web 2.0 account to keep track of. If you listen to this podcast regularly and have a Twitter account please follow me to receive Twitter updates on what I am up to. If you do not have a Twitter account I encourage you to go to Twitter.com and sign-up for a free account and give it a try. The summer time is a perfect time to give some of these Web 2.0 tools a try. Twitter is something you must experience in order to determine if you will find any value in micro-blogging. I am also asking others at EIU to follow my Twitter account so that we can communicate professional development opportunities and share educational technologies that the ITC offers to faculty and students.

One of the problems I am having with Twitter is that I try to serve many different audiences, those not from EIU are probably not interested in the happenings at the Instructional Technology Center and those from EIU may not care about some of my other Twitter postings. So here goes another grand experiment to find the best Twitter has to offer and at the same time try keep it manageable.

For those of you that I have been following on Twitter using my eiuitc twitter account I have now followed you using my new twitter.com/tomgrissom account Please follow me back if you are interested in keeping up with TechTalk4Teachers podcasts and other projects I am working on as I will be using the tomgrissom twitter account from now on for Twitter updates. If you are new to Twitter please follow me as we cruise the twitterverse together to seek ever improving teaching and learning opportunities powered by technology.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My technology pick of the week this week is a new Web 2.0 Polling tool that allows users to respond to multiple choice questions using a text message via your cell phone. I have been looking for an application like this for some time now and ran across this website while attending NECC last week. The name of this Web 2.0 service is Poll Everywhere and a link is provided in the shownotes.

Poll Everywhere

This site offers a free account for up to 30 participants per poll and is updated in real time. It is very easy to setup and once you complete setting up a poll you can either copy and paste the poll web address into an email to send to others or you can download a PowerPoint Slide that you can display to the audience and the audience can use their cell phones to text in their vote. The results updated in real time on the PowerPoint slide as long as you have an Internet connection. How cool is that! I tried this with a friend from another city and it worked perfectly. I have an example in the show notes if you would like to give this poll a try. Be aware that standard text messaging rates apply. My example is using my free Poll Everywhere account so if more than 30 people try this poll the results will not display after 30 users. Poll Everywhere offers the ability to upgrade the service for a montly fee if you need polling capability for a larger audience. Give Poll Everywhere a try and let me know what you think.

Take the TechTalk4Teachers Tablet PC User Poll (example to see how this works)

Since I did not have a podcast episode last week I may post a special podcast this Friday as I was able to interview Eric Langhorst, last years Missouri Teacher of the Year while in San Antonio and I would like to share this interview with the TechTalk4Teachers listeners as he discussed an innovative project that he has been working on this past academic year.

That wraps it up for episode 44 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at www.eiu.edu/itc by clicking on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. If you would like to make a comment or suggestion please send an email to techtalk@eiu.edu or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog.
Be sure to check back this Friday, July 11th for this special episode. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

No comments: