Monday, December 8, 2008

14 Days of Twitter Part Two: “I Love Twitter”

This is the second post about my recent experiences using Twitter in the classroom. The first post, "14 Days of Twitter Part One: I Hate Twitter", is here:

Reaction 1: “Ah. I Get It.”

“Haha I'm using twhirl now this is sweet!” Day 11 from “T”

“now..I like Twitter....☺” Day 14 from “J”

“Isn't it amazing?? we can access to internet on the street and se can know what your friends are doing by twitter.” Day 8 from “G”

“I think I arleady addicted to Twitter...Is there any tool to contact to twitter not mobile phone???” Day 9 from “J”

“I'm write tweet using iPhone. It's really cool Mobile 2.0 Day 2 from “N”

“I am using Twhirl now. it is so convenient to tweet. I would recommend you to use this fancy tool :)” Day 3 from “N”
Reaction 2: Help Me, Please!
“interviewing with IBM next Thursday...any tips specific to the company? Day 3 from “X”

“2 use twitter on iPhone, just download twitterrific from the app store 4 free” Day 6 from “F”

“When Twitter and mobile are combined into one thing it creates a huge power. How cool the fastest tools are combined!” Day 3 from “N”
Reaction 3: Less is More
“I think twitter is effective way to let people know about their policies or ideas cause it is just one sentence” Day 2 from “G”

“The mobile can be the fastest tool to conversation within 140 characters with each other eventhough they are so far apart” Day 3 from “N”

“I agree with all of regarding being more efficient and concise when using tools like twitter. Its a great talent to pick-up !” Day 5 from “F”

“Microblogging on Twitter can be a useful training to write shorter posts and be concise. Which seems to be the key to success.” Day 10 from “L”

“Microblogging is a efficient means to discuss the politic through a simple procedure 140 characters in length like Twitter.” Day 9 from “N”
Reaction 4: This is Fun!
“My group used twitter to set up our group meeting yesterday. Go Virtual Team SKiD!” Day 12 from “Y”

“Good morning :) It is hard for me to tweet via mobile phone. Thats because I hunt and peck at the keys:(“ Day 4 from “N”

“Twitter is easy to use.I like the links.People are actually sharing content,even if they still feel like u should know what they're eating.” Day 13 from “N”

“Listen to the Twitter Song and dance silently to it! Day 8 from “N”

“I'm tweeting and brushing my teeth at the same time. The future!?” Day 12 from “Y”
Next Time

As they say, there is always next time. I plan to make the following changes:
  1. Fun is Fun: The students really like the social side of Twitter. I'll use Twitter next time as one of the tools to build the culture of openness and to create closeness among students. I required 3 tweets per day and 4 @replies during the two week period. The tweets were required to be related to the weekly reading topics. (As a graded assignment, I have to have some quantitative requirements.) Next time, I'll let them bond by using Twitter the way most people do -- a mix of social and professional tweets.

  2. Start Early: This assignment took place about 2/3 of the way through the course. Twitter has huge value as a way for students to get to know each other. Next time, I'll introduce it much earlier. I may make it an assignment early in the semester and encourage students to keep using it so they find their own uses for it.

  3. @Reply Rocks: I was interested to discover that students used @replies liberally. This surprised me since student's are reluctant to comment on blog posts. Students prefer to write a blog post versus writing a comment. The behavior was opposite with twitter -- student prefer to @reply over writing a new tweet. Next time, I'll count all tweets as equals for grading. I may even weight @reply more heavily to encourage even more interaction between students.
What's missing from this list? What other ideas do you have for me for using Twitter next time?

Friday, December 5, 2008

14 Days of Twitter Part One: “I Hate Twitter”

Image Source:
The back story: I teach a course on social media & web2.0 (called Social Networking & Business For the first time this semester I required students to use Twitter. I borrowed the idea of “14 Days of Twitter” from Karen Miller Russell. She wrote about “48 Hours of Twitter” on her blog. (Yes, I’m an overachiever. 48 hours just wasn’t enough.)

I used class time to have students sign up for Twitter accounts (only 1 already had an account) and then we walked through the process of following all the other students. They spent a little time learning about direct messages, @replies, and having fun writing silly things. They also selected companies and individuals to follow using this excellent list of Twitter accounts (For those interested, the complete “lab” is available here:
I walked into class after 14 days of my students using Twitter excited to hear what students thought. I started the discussion asking for quick reactions. The first student to raise his hand (we’ll call him “T”) said “I hate Twitter”. Wow. Where do you go from there?

Reaction 1: “I just don’t get it”
“If you don't need to get out of jail and don't witness an accident or catastrophy, what is the point about Twitter?” Day 1 from “J”

“still not fond of this site Day 1 from “T”

“so how many hours a day do you think ppl spend tweeting?” Day 1 from “T

“still not excited about Twitter” Day 1 from “T”

“Oh god this twitter thing is really hard” Day 3 from “D”

“I hate this twitter thing, but it would be nice for a political debate: keep all answers to 140 characters or less!” Day 10 from “F”

“I do not still like is a little bit bothering me.” Day 13 from “G”

“Last day of tweeting. I can't wait to go back to the normal blogging. Missed the weekly blog posts.” Day 14 from “O”
Reaction 2: “This is hard!”
“I thought it would be breeze posting 3 tweets a day but it's starting to get difficult. How do i get through the remaining time?” Day 4 from “Y”

“@Y I also think the same. This is an alternative Facebook and it's beginning to wear me down posting updates” Day 4 from “B”

“I think twitter is the shorter, faster, easier version blog, but sometimes disturbing.” Day 5 from “R”

“well, It is pretty tough to post 3 comments everyday, isn't it?” Day 10 from “G”
Reaction 3: 140 characters, Really?
“I mourn the day when people form their political opinions around simplistic 140-character Tweets.” Day 14 from “B”

“Next, we need to have debates over chat, IM, or even twitter, that way the message is short, clear and easy to ignore. Day 7 from “F”

“Blaming myself for enjoying developping my thoughts in more than 140 characters. Do u think a blogpost shouldn't exceed 2 tweets?” Day 9 from “L”
Reaction 4: I can’t get this thing to work!
“I cant get my phone to work with this thing!” Day 5 from “B”

“T tried to text message twitter as a post but failed. I need figure this out again. Day 12 from “T”

“was trying to fix twitter on my phone without any success” Day 2 from “Y”

“need to set up the text messaging option for twitter” Day 12 from “N”

“this twitteriffic client is pretty glitchy” Day 5 from “X”

“the twitter app on the iPhone keeps crashing... how frustratinggg Day 9 from “F”
Have something to add? Comments welcomed. Want to hear more? This is one of a pair of posts. The other (will be) titled “14 Days of Twitter Part Two: I Love Twitter” and will include a summary and plans for next semester. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

3 Tips for Presenting to an Empty Room

A few days ago, I created a 'pre-recorded webinar'. I sat in a room by myself and talked to my computer for 35 minutes. It was hard! I tried to put myself in the seat of the person who would have to listen and watch. Here's what I did to spice it up:
  1. Humor

    I introduced myself and then pretended to introduce others who were attendees. I found some fun photos of people who I could introduce and welcome. Later on, I took questions from the audience and used silly photos (someone sleeping, for example) to make it fun.

  2. Video

    I used my webcam at the beginning, middle, and end to make it more personal. Admittedly, the quality of the video and synchronization with my voice (in the recording) leaves a bit to be desired. However, I felt the visual connection with the participant outweighed these drawbacks.

  3. Props

    I didn't think that a "talking head", some photos, and an occassional webcam video was enough to keep participants engaged. I went for "props" as a way to change things up. In the session, I discussed various microphones and headsets to connect to a computer. For props, I held different types of headsets and mics up to the webcam to "show versus tell". I also considered writing things on paper, using sticky notes, and other props that could be used at intervals but didn't try it this time.
What do you think of these techniques?

And what other ideas do you have for me to try the next time I pre-record a workshop, seminar, or class?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Flickr and Fun

On Wed, students in my "Social Networking & Business" course competed (I do use that term lightly) in a mobile phone photo safari. They were asked to act like kids in grade school who are given a list of items to find and photograph. As you'll see from the winners, they had no trouble finding their inner kid.

Second KSB Mobile Photo Safari

"A Strange Hat"

"Something Blue"

"That should have been thrown out looonng ago"

"Now what did I forget?"

"Morning Hair"

Friday, November 14, 2008

The So-Called Millennials

They call them "Millennials" and they tell us that they are the "first generation to grow up with the Internet." While this may be true, I would argue that they are less equipped for our digital world than generations past.

The first generation to be introduced to the telephone understood party lines, tone dialing, and long distance operators (yes, I am showing my age.) The next generation simply picked up the handset and pushed the buttons -- and it worked.

The first generation to be introduced to the television understood rabbit antennas, UHF versus VHF, and snow on the screen after midnight. The next generation keyed some numbers on a remote -- and it worked.
  • If you belong to the Millennial generation, tell me what you think. Do you worry about the expectations of future employers with respect to your technology savvy?
  • If you work with the Millennials, tell me about your experiences. Did they have the skills you expected them to have?
Photo Credit: Mike McGregor Photography

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Well, I'm finally putting my money where my mouth is. I've been teaching a course on Social Networking & Business for two years. I have my students read articles on a topic and write a blog post -- every week. Yet I haven't been blogging myself. Now the time has come.

Welcome to the Digital Minds Blog where I will explore "all things digital" based on my experiences with students and faculty at American University in Washington DC. I hope you'll participate by subscribing and leaving regular comments. I look forward to the conversation...