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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Twitter: Getting to Know a New Space

This blog actually got started as a result of a defunct Twitter project at my school. Even though the project is defunct (in fact, I guess you could say it backfired), I've carried on using Twitter and have made it a part of my daily routine for a few weeks now. So, it looks like it is going to stick! I still find Twitter kind of strange and frustrating compared to the other social spaces I use and have used (e.g., Google+, Chatter, Yammer, and Ning), but it is turning out to be useful, especially for finding news and announcements about events happening at my school. Here are some things I have done that seem to have made this particular use of Twitter successful for me.
  • Lists. The most important part of my Twitter routine is checking the two extensive lists I made related to my school: University of Oklahoma Programs and University of Oklahoma Faculty and Staff. My main Twitter routine consists of checking those lists periodically during the day. I follow some of these Twitter accounts, but primarily I check them via the list. Why aren't such lists compiled and maintained by the WebComm group at my school? Hmmmm... Anyway, I compiled them myself and they have proven to be very useful, although the large majority of accounts seem to be dormant.
  • Integration with Blog Posting. Right now, I have several blogs that I update regularly, so I made a schedule for sharing a link at Twitter for new posts at these blogs (Bestiaria Latina blog, Latin LOLCats, GrammarCatz, Foreign Words, and also this Digital Tools blog). I also share from my class announcements blog when appropriate. I don't do this automatically; instead, I just tweet about the posts manually, and that also gives me an excuse to check in at Twitter periodically during the day.
  • Following People I Know. It's been fun to follow people at Twitter whom I know either from Google+ and/or from their blogs. Some people really are good at creating a presence on Twitter, using the format very creatively. I enjoy reading their tweets and maybe I will even learn from them how to make good use of this insanely tiny space for expression.
  • Don't Worry; Be Happy. Although I'm not really following very many people at Twitter, I don't even try to keep up with the stream. At Google+, I really do keep up with a core group of people, while also keeping an eye on the stream at large. At Twitter, though, I just kind of kick back and let it happen, without expecting to be able to keep up. That means Twitter feels less real to me, less about real relationships - kind of like eavesdropping and chatting with random people on public transportation as opposed to having conversations around the water cooler at work. Different, but still useful/entertaining in its own way!
I am really inspired to use Twitter when I see how it is being used by the folks at my school who run the World Literature Today and Neustadt accounts (both out of the World Literature Today office). They post such great stuff, and I really like the way they share information about WLT events, but also all kinds of other literary news and information. The other OU accounts are focused on promoting campus events, really of interest only to OU folks, but the World Literature Today people are writing for a wider audience, and they are doing a fabulous job of it, too. 

I was expecting to see much more Twitter usage by the "WebComm" group at my school and other programs on campus that have made it a goal to make use of social media for institutional purposes. I'm glad to find what I have found, of course, but it is much less than I would have expected, given how quick and easy Twitter is to use. Maybe they devote their real attention to Facebook... and that's one tool I am not going to use. Twitter is fine by me; Facebook is not.

Meanwhile, I'll update this post in a month or so when we see whether I am really sticking with Twitter as a part of my daily routine. For now, I have included below an infographic which might be useful for people who are thinking about getting started with Twitter. Twitter is certainly a space that is used by many educators, and this infographic has some good tips for educators who want to give Twitter a try.


From TeachThought.com:

An Infographic That Summarizes Twitter For Teachers.

Here's the full-sized image.

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(I have limited this to Google accounts only, but no word verification; meanwhile, if you want to contact me directly, you can do that too! laura-gibbs@ou.edu.)