Are You Using the Single Best Twitter Chat Tool Out There?

#TalkTech is on vacation today, but we still have Twitter on the brain. Go figure!

We are big fans of Twitter chats and love how many choices there are for Twitter chats on learning. Unfortunately, participating in these chats is not as easy as it should be. if you try and use Twitter’s browser interface or pull up the iOS app, you will probably run into some problems. How do you keep track of the chat conversation without getting distracted by other Tweets? How do you eliminate distractions? And why do you have to keep typing in that dumb hashtag!? What is the best tool for using Twitter?

Enter…the best tool for Twitter chats. It’s easy to use:

1. Go to Click “Log In” and authorize Tweetchat to use your Twitter account.

2. Type the hashtag you want to follow (i.e. #TalkTech, #Nutrichat) into the field at the top of the screen and click “Go.” All tweets using this hashtag are displayed in chronological order.

3. Tweetchat automatically delays tweets by a few seconds so the chat flows better. Click “refresh speed,” then adjust to 5 seconds so you see tweets faster.

4. Start Tweeting! You do not have to manually type the hashtag for each tweet. Twitter adds this for you.

Want to see Tweetchat in action? Watch a Screencast on Tweetchat from our friend, mobile learning analyst RJ Jacquez where he shows how he uses Tweetchat to participate in our #TalkTech chat.

Join us for #TalkTech Thursdays at 3 pm ET. The next chat will be held on July 12th.

New to Twitter? 5 Tips for Learning Professionals

With Apple’s education event looming this Thursday, all eyes will be set squarely on the future of learning. How can ebooks, the iPad, and social media shape the future of learning? We may not the know the answer, but what we do know is that a change is coming. In fact, it has already begun.

In preparation for that change, professionals everywhere are starting to turn their attention to digital and social platforms to figure out what all the fuss is about. Do I need to be using this for my business? What should I be doing on Twitter? Seasoned pro or greenhorn, we are all figuring it out as we go.

The early adopters of social media can be intimidating: they have thousands of followers and subscribers and seem to be posting constantly. How is a beginner supposed to keep up? Here are 5 practical tips for the professional just looking to get started on Twitter.

1. Show us the real you: Setting up an account is a great start, but don’t forget to include a photo and short bio. If I see an account does not have a photo or has not offered a short blurb about who they are and what they do, I usually assume their account is not active. It’s hard to know “what to write” about ourselves, but think of that 140 character bio as your chance to provide some context on yourself. It’s your elevator pitch in the world of social media.

2. Filter the noise: Twitter becomes useful when you start filtering! The best way to do this is to add people to lists when you start following them. I have created lists for eLearning, Social Media, Technologists, and even friends for my own Twitter account. When I want to check my streams, clicking on each lists provides more context for what I am looking at. It is easier to find what I need, when I need it.

3. Set up listening posts: Twitter is like a 24/7, asynchronous coffee conversation with the world, sharing the most current and useful ideas in any field imaginable. It is easy to tap into these fields by picking some keywords you are interested in and setting them as saved searches. For example, just typing “#eLearning” into the search bar will yield tons of posts from people all over the world discussing the topic. You can click “Save Search” then access your saved searches from Twitter whenever you want to check up on that topic.

4. Curate useful content: Don’t let that little voice in your head keep you from Tweeting. You know what I’m talking about. “But I have nothing to say!” “My thoughts don’t matter!” Nonsense! If you are a working professional, you obviously have some serious expertise in at least one field. Start sharing your insights because chances are someone else needs to hear it. Post links to interesting articles and blogs in your industry and be sure to provide some context as to what people are reading.

5. Do not protect your Tweets: Twitter is all about the open sharing of ideas. For those who have been working in a corporate setting for much of their careers, the idea of leaving something unprotected online can seem foreign and even scary. However, protecting your tweets will keep your thoughts and insights from being visible to the wider community that can best use them. Resist the urge to protect your tweets and always remember that YOU control what you post and what others will see. “Protect” your Tweets by keeping them relevant, on-topic, and interesting.

Focusing on these 5 basic tips will give you a great start on leveraging Twitter as a profesional and learning tool. We’ll follow up next week with a few of my favorite tools and utilities that can help you be even more productive once you’ve gotten started.


Learning 2.0: Everyone is trying to figure it out…and someone boldly proclaims Twitter to be dead

I’ve been reading tons of posts lately on “Learning 2.0.” Folks have been talking about “Web 2.0” since 2004 – it’s taken the learning community until 2009 to get onto the band wagon. The big question everyone is asking is, “How can we use Learning 2.0/Web 2.0 to facilitate informal learning in our organization and enhance the formal stuff we do?” Interesting to me that the question is HOW and not SHOULD WE. (Okay…I know opportunities exist to leverage it – but I think people are trying everything without fully evaluating which options are BEST.)

Thus far, there doesn’t seem to be a huge consensus on what works, though there are lots of folks trying lots of things. One interesting post I came across today detailed a pilot project where a university professor decided to make use of Twitter a requirement for his Shakespeare class. He does a nice job outlining is pilot – and documenting the results he got.

His students were less than impressed by it. One big comment I noted as I reviewed his results was that, for most students, their preference was for Facebook. They weren’t resistant to social media tools for learning – just having to ADD another tool onto one they already used daily.

Any implications for corporate training?

I think so. I’ve long been concerned that we’re so gung-ho on using Learning 2.0 that no one is stopping to ask 1) how much is too much, and 2) what’s most viable and least intrusive to learners. People only have so much time. We want their social learning to be meaningful – not a burden. My biggest sensation after attending the MarchSALT conference was that people are trying everything…and finding that even our digital natives (those in their teens and 20s) aren’t embracing nearly as many tools as folks imagined they would.

I’d love to see a robust discussion of what works and what doesn’t. I’d particularly like to hear from LEARNERS THEMSELVES. That was the power of the Kingston University pilot. They spent a lot of time gathering data from the learners to find out how they perceived Twitter as a learning tool. There’s lots of learning designers who are raving about the potential – but less data from the perspective of learners who have leveraged Web 2.0 as part of a learning experience.

Let’s hear from the learners!

An e-Learning Tweet

First, this “Tweet” is way longer than 140 characters. If that sentence lost you…Tweets are posts via Twitter (social networking tool) that can be up to 140 characters long. Now you’re caught up.

So, last week I watched a rerun of the tv show Fringe. I only watch two tv shows…24 and Fringe, so I was a bit excited to see Fringe, as all 24 fans know they don’t rerun Jack Bauer. Anyway, Fringe did something a little unusual last week as they had a couple of the lead actors, and what I gathered were producers of the show, send tweets throughout the broadcast of the show. Evidently, the actors were on location (working) while the producers were back at their offices watching the rebroadcast on tv, and all were tweeting about the show with behind-the-scenes comments and conversation.

At first I was a bit annoyed because the tweets were blocking part of the screen, but what they were tweeting was pretty interesting; then again, I love the extras and special features on dvds…and, does anyone remember “Pop up Video” from VH-1 “back in the day”? They would show videos and have pop-up bubbles with behind-the-scenes information about the video while the video was playing. Anyway, back to Fringe…these tweets on Fringe were a lot like that…extra information about what was happening on the screen. They talked about what the writers were trying to convey in certain scenes, and even made comments about the meaning behind the graphics that were shown before commercial breaks. It was fascinating. I found myself wanting to pay more attention to the show! What other little nuggets of information were those sneaky writers of Fringe hiding from me? And then, I started thinking…

So, what if we had that extra “behind-the-scenes” information in our e-Learning courses? I’m not saying it’s something I’m promoting…but, what if? Wouldn’t it be interesting as a learner to know what the designer was thinking when they put “that” graphic there? Or, what that text was really supposed to mean? What was the writer’s intent of the e-Learning content? What was the SME’s background or experience?

Then, I asked myself…How would all this information affect learning? Would this be something a savvy learner would enjoy? Would learners pay more attention because of all of the “hidden” or “behind-the-scenes” information that was lurking in the shadows just waiting for them to discover?! Okay, maybe I’m getting a little too crazy there.

So, what if your e-Learning course came with a “behind-the-scenes” feature?  Would anyone want it?

This Made My Day

I am a huge history buff. I minored in history in college, just for fun. Give me a good biography about a historical figure, and I’m set for the evening. So when I discovered Historical Tweets, I fell in love!

Historical Tweets combines my love of history with the feeling “I just don’t get the point of twitter”. You can see exactly how useless 140 characters can be in the hands of historical figures, from Lincoln to Napoleon, to Neil Armstrong.

Definitely check out Mozart and, of course, Ben Franklin.

And just to get you started, here’s one in honor of our nation’s birthday this month.

P.S. – Another eLearning Rule

After I posted my blog post about eLearning/Distance learning rules last week, I came across this video, which made me think of another one I’d add:

Avoid only talking, not listening.

The danger of some of our web 2.0/social learning platforms is that we have become so enamoured with the sound of our own voices, we’re not actually listening and learning from others!