Thursday, 29 September 2016

Demonstrating the power of twitter

Every year, for the last 6 or 7 years, I've started teaching my module on Learning Technologies, aimed at members of academic staff, by introducing them to twitter. We then use twitter as a tool throughout the module, sharing information and developing a community.

Each year there are always one or two participants who are already twitter users, some people who have dabbled or lurk, and always a few who have never used twitter before. It can be a challenge to convince people to give twitter a try, because the value of twitter to an academic is only realised after a period of time spent engaging. Even building up a network takes time, and often it's not clear to the academic that the time invested now will pay any dividends.

To that end, I was helped enormously this year by a short presentation from Jane Walsh (@DrJaneWalsh) who gave an engaging, often amusing and very persuasive talk on the value of twitter in her own research and teaching. Jane was a participant herself on the module 4 years ago, and I claim full credit for her twitter success to date.

Asking the Twitterverse for help 

Something I've always done in the past, and I see others doing from time to time, is to put out a call on twitter for help. This usually results in at least a few responses to welcome the new group to twitter, and these are often geographically dispersed, which can be quite impressive.

This year, though, I really wasn't sure what response I would get. I see fewer of this type of call, and I wondered if people might be less likely to respond. Anyway, I live in hope, so on the morning of the workshop I put out a general call:
Not feeling very confident, I also tweeted to specific people (former students in the module) to tweet a welcome.

I was pleasantly surprised to get responses, not only from former participants, but also a few from people around Ireland (Dublin and Donegal/Monaghan) and one from Melbourne, Australia. A good start! In addition, a couple of people "liked" the tweet, but didn't bother responding - hmmm.

Just before the workshop, I again sent out a call:
This time I was completely inundated with responses. It was amazing. As well as tweets from around Ireland and the UK, people also responded from France, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland and Israel. There was a great response from across the Atlantic - from Kentucky, Florida, Michigan, Boston and Delaware. There was even a tweet from Brazil.

To see the full collection of tweets received, you can take a look at them on Storify.

I've been a little bit quieter on twitter in the last few months, so it was really amazing to see such support from my PLN. Thank you to everyone who responded and really gave an impressive demonstration of the power of twitter.

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