Using Twitter

Written By: Miranda - Mar• 24•11

Webtreats 53 Twitter Icons Promo Packphoto © 2009 webtreats | more info (via: Wyli

I ran across a link (in my Twitter stream where else) to a post by David Jakes. 140 Characters and Beyond: Extend Your Use of Twitter. I haven’t had time to more than scratch the surface of it, though I did play with a Twitter Fountain. I used a search for the hashtag #humanrights and played with the size a bit to make it fit the format of this theme a bit better.

When I suggested to Ms. Lord that she have a twitter stream going in her classroom during the Egyptian Revolution, this was kind of what I had in mind but I didn’t know about these visual tools that Mr. Jakes suggests using for classes or backchannel conversations: Twitterfall, Visible Tweets or the Twitter Fountain. I suggested using TweetDeck over to one side and having a news site in a browser window alongside on the Smartboard. I need to find out how that class went. I know the students all chose a few news sources to follow as well as some activists. They set up a list which they all followed, as did I. I am still a member of the list so I have to be conscious of what I tweet, though I don’t tweet much.

I am still a little uncomfortable with Twitter. It can be too much information, way too much. The morning after the protestors were overrun in the Pearl Roundabout, in Bahrain, I woke up and clicked a link to a picture. It was of a dead child, and I posted the link on this blog with a warning that it was terribly graphic. I knew intellectually, somewhere deep that children get shot every day, that terrible things happen to thousands, millions of children. But to see this picture… as a mother it hit me hard to start the day crying. I found out later that the picture was not from the night when government forces overran the camp while families were sleeping there. It was a picture of a small victim of some other conflict. I have been trying to teach students that when one posts something that turns out later to be incorrect, one should use strikethrough to own up to it, so for a few days I left the link up with a strikethrough and an explanation. But I later took it down.

So here are my personal Twitter rules, designed to keep me informed yet sane.

  • Remember that lots of it is rumor. Wait until you see some confirmation in the way of links to reputable news sources before you freak out.
  • Don’t click every link to photos or videos that you see. If someone says it’s graphic, it is. Make sure you can take it. I think it is better to know, to be aware that these things are happening. But it can be difficult to see.
  • Don’t follow the Twitter stream when you are trying to get things done. It all could wait during the years we got our news from newspapers and it still can.

Some rules I’d follow if I was teaching with Twitter:

  • All of the above, plus
  • Your students are going to read some strong language. It’s real people, in some pretty stressful situations. It isn’t anything they haven’t heard, but you’ll need to think about that.

The graphic is via Wylio, a nifty service where you can search for graphics with copyright suitable for using with attribution and get an embed code which adds the correct citation. I’d love to be able to get across to students and faculty how important it is not to break copyright but it’s difficult sometimes. This site makes it super easy to do right.

Oooh, oooh, I wanted to share this really fabulous flow chart graphic from Digital Inspiration designed to help you decide whether to post a graphic from the web or not and how to cite it if so. Suitable for printing out and putting in any classroom!

flow chart

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  1. Lyn Lord says:

    I agree with this completely. The class was successful in understanding the revolution in real time but also selecting information that comes so aggressively and quickly. I do believe that the challenge of educators (and all people) will not but gathering information but rather using critical skills to select the necessary information at the time and the right amount. Those are the essentials for the future- don’t you think?

  2. Ms. Clemson says:

    Yes, I do think. I also think part of the challenge that teachers face is to pass those skills on to their students while simultaneously learning the skills themselves. The nature and form of information changes so fast these days that it can be a difficult juggling act.

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