Friday, June 3, 2011

Follow Friday Works for You

A lot of Twitter users have come across a little happy Friday event called "Follow Friday". Today is Friday and you might see these attached to tweets:

#Follow Friday

What's this all about? 
Well, it's a fun little part of twitter that keeps things social. People follow people and on friday they suggest to other followers a certain few that everyone should take a look at and follow to get their tweets.

Awwweeee. How nice right? 
But is there any value in that? Should you participate?
I've seen this handled as a reward (follower accomplishes something for the tweeter, tweeter tweets their name to the group and what they did for them), and I've seen it handled as a meere superficial way to get that person to feel guilty enough to tweet their name to their followers for that Friday. This is usually handled by a series of tweets that just have at-tagged names for 140 characters at a time. I've also seen this handled rather sloppily, "Hey I follow @whomever - you should follow them too #FF". But why should I? I've only got so much twitter realestate, what do I get out of following this person?

So in light of too much of the above, here's some best practices I've come up with that will add value to your Follow Friday:

1.) Select ONLY a few for that Friday... don't worry there will be another Friday... It's hard to find the value in your tweets if every Friday all you do is take up my twitterealstate with at-tags. It's annoying, and I'll use the secret "#UFS" (unfollow Saturday - I really just made that up) on you after a month of those.

2.) Tell me WHY I should follow them! What makes their tweets so special? If I follow you for a reason am I going to get even better stuff in that same field? Will I get a laugh out of them? Are they just a great resource for random information? Are they like, totally, the best ever friend ever omg?! Honestly, I won't even look at the profile if I don't know something about them. I skim over blank and unexplained at-tags.

3.) Keep it to your audience. Follow Friday's can still show off that you are a good resource for quality information and a subject matter expert. You are giving your audience people to add to their "who I'm following" list. If they are a conservative bunch, don't tell them to follow the Huffington Post. If they are business minded and highly aware of their persona online, don't give them The Onion.... etc

Follow Friday is a quality form of flattery. Chances are, the one you suggest might just suggest you down the road, or at least they might retweet you. Especially if you give your followers the reason why the tweeter is worth following. It makes a more personal connection with that individual... and this is all about being social.
And again, Follow Friday is a way to show off that you are a subject matter expert. You know who to follow for the best stuff in your field. It shows off that your are a resource for good info and someone worth following come #UFS

Tweet an update a little like this: Hey everyone, follow my colleague @whomever ! they are probably you'll never look at pizza the same way again #FF followfriday #FollowFriday

There's an at-tag (@) in front of the person's name which allows anyone who sees your tweet to click and see that person's profile. It also alerts "whomever" that they've been mentioned in a tweet.
Then there's the hashtag (#) in front of the common Follow Friday verbiage. This signifies to everyone that you're not just hawking names, you are actually a little bit twitter savvy and you are putting out good suggestions for your followers.

NOW... go get your Follow Friday on ---

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tips for Overwhelmed Teachers

I'm at the Heartland eLearning Conference. We just heard a VERY inspiring lecture by Dr. Michael Wesch on digital citizenship, critical thinking, and how our learning must change good stuff here - read the notes, watch the videos -

I saw a lot of university professors and IT directors glaze over with all the info and no idea where to start... So maybe I can help!

In order to be "Up to date" with technology, you have to be engrossed in it with the knowledge that you are NOT EVER going to be "up to date".
There, that should take away some pressure, right? What I'm saying is, JUST START!  sooooooo

A.) Sign up for an account.
5.) Follow a celebrity you are interested in. (I followed film directors so that it would bring me back to Twitter every day to see what was happening on set - maybe you'd rather follow a professional athlete instead. These are ideas)
IVX.) stop worrying about formality. Twitter is social! It does not matter if you spell it "great" or "gr8", whatever it takes to get your point across in 140 characters works. Most of the web is social,

Hence my ridiculous formatting and complete lack of numeracy skills above - you want to keep reading this, you would probably just save link to read later if it looked like a white paper.

Here's one of my latest tweets we can break down:
highlighted is an example of bad grammar. but did you read it? did you get confused as to what I meant? did you have an issue with understanding if I was trying to say, "it is a good" or whether it was a possessive pronoun with a made up word "agood"? No, and I had to do it to get in 140 characters. And guess what else? A pretty smart guy responded that I made an "excellent point". So apparently it's cool... right?

Speaking of responding:
the "@" symbol in front of a user name is a way to call out to a person on twitter and keep the conversation open. jcraig23 got an alert that I was talking specifically to him or about him because I tagged him with the "at tag".

And while on "tagging":
the "#" symbol is called a "hash tag". It is a way to jump into a conversation with a group of people and keep it open for anyone to follow along. So everyone at the conference is taking notes and making observations with the hashtag, and I can see what's going on and who is here.

and this brings me to Purpose:
How and Why is this important? I can do things like follow other session notes while I'm in a different session. At the end of the day I can go back and look at links, blogs, and ideas from the conference. I can encourage others to follow along or even join the conversation. I can do things like figure out where the certificate table is or even find out where I can get a free hug (at the registration table apparently).

Quit worrying about privacy. Use your twitter account as an extension of yourself, not to present your "professorship". Again, it's social. You are a person. A person who is interested in Troy Aikman, occasionally adds pepper jack cheese to random foods, is a lifelong learner, and a good teacher. So be that on twitter. There's no need for two twitter accounts.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Interactive Instruction

Good instruction is engaging.

Questions are inherently engaging.

How do you make a lecture interactive?
            Ask questions that could take a discussion in a different direction.
How can you do this online?
           Embed a video of a lecture with solid visuals
           Make the students answer the questions DURING the lecture. They have to answer every question posed but maybe the question itself is not highlighted. ... let's talk about this more.