Into the Twittersphere

This has been a serious Tweet week so far. Serious in that we have been asked to set up a series of Twitter hashtags and follow them over the course of the remainder of class this summer. I’ve followed hashtags at conferences, but this will be the first time I attempt to follow several hashtags that aren’t necessarily attached to a specific event.

Hootsuite Simply Rocks

Before I mention my hashtag followings, I have to mention the dashboard app that I use – Hootsuite. I can’t claim a lot of kudos for researching it out and making an informed decision to start using it a few years ago. I think someone at work in the marketing dept. mentioned it and I liked the name and the owl icon, so I signed up and started using it. Since then I’ve tried  and added many tools to track my digital self and my content – I’ve found Hootsuite to be pretty functional with all of them including Twitter. It has taken me some time to figure out what app works for creating and organizing my digital world but Hootsuite has persevered. I still have some decisions to make regarding what “suite” of tools I want to stick with (and drop the rest) but Hootsuite stays for sure.

Just the Hashtags, Maamm…

So finally to the meat of this post! The five new tags I’m following (with short summaries) currently are:

1. #instructionaldesign – instructional design related topics – most active content seems to be for elearning in higher ed and corporate training. Also a lot of activity from users of Storyline2 ( a software package I’m trying to learn as I go).

2. #edchat  – weekly education related topics chat (on Tuesdays)

3. #comm_college – topics of interest for community college faculty, staff and administration

4. #BlendedLearning – topics on blended or hybrid learning design and research. Applicable to all level of education

5. #elearning –   Topics specific to online learning, course development and use of technology tools for elearning.

Resources, Ideas and Other Twitter Finds

Some of the many resources I’ve been led to so far are other education professionals’ blogs. I often spend a lot of time looking for useful blog, but I can see how using a hashtag might help me curate this process a little faster. And of those blogs I typically follow (I have many already in my Feedly lists), I can see quite a few bloggers using the strategy of blogging, tweeting the link and including related hashtags. A typical and smart marketing strategy to ensure their information is hitting many channels and leading people back to their blog sites.

I am also always on the lookout for recent survey data, research, etc. on online learning and teaching and learning in higher ed, so scanning the hashtags for information like this, finding something quickly and now being able to add it to my Diigo listings quickly has really streamlined my ability to find relevant and fresh information and put it somewhere that I can annotate, curate and share with others in my PLN and at work.

One specific new resource I found was a site called The Hechinger Report . The site is education focused reporting  (has a staff that also creates content and stories) that specifically looks at topics of innovation and inequality in education. I found a lot of information, white papers and articles related to the rapidly changing landscape of educational technology – information I plan to use in upcoming meetings with administration and our elearning department. The Hechinger Report is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based at Teachers CollegeColumbia University.

Just-In-Time Professional Development Tool

My reaction to the idea of using Twitter as a PD tool is an enthusiastic YES! It may take some time to decide what streams to follow, but it could not be an easier tool to set up and use for a social media “newbie”. Twitter was one of the first platforms I adopted because I could follow anyone I wanted and I didn’t have to use it as anything other than a listening tool for a while. It has developed into a robust resource for finding content and sharing ideas and thoughts. When I was researching my next career move, 5 years ago, Twitter was a way for me to initially connect with thought leaders in the fields of instructional design, edtech and elearning to find out more about jobs, the work and the future of these fields of study.

As a professional at my college,  faculty will often ask me how I find the research I talk about or want additional resources they can look at on their own to learn more. I always tell them that I find a lot of my resources through my connections on Twitter and encourage them to simply sign up and listen for a while on a Twitter channel to see what pops up. Those that take me up on it are amazed at the activity and quality of information they can find.