Who’s tweeting now? @TELEDALincoln meets Twitter

TELEDA Twitter image from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/10306627/Twitter-IPO-14-fun-facts.html TELEDA is on Twitter. We’ve had our first Tweet Meets. These are synchronous events, also known as Twitter Chat or Twitter Party. Social media creates connections which can lessen the isolation of learning online and on TELEDA we’re learning how.  Tuesday, between 8-9 a.m. and 7-8 p.m., and again 8-9 a.m. Thursday, colleagues were invited to pose questions using the hashtag #askTELEDA. Tweets were collected via Storify 4th November and 6th November

Tweet with a megaphone - image from http://www.clipartbest.com/clipart-yTkeGBGAc Setting up @TELEDALincoln has exposed my own lack of Twitter Literacies.  I could tweet and follow, throw in the occasional hashtag, but my performance had no depth. I didn’t really understand how Twitter worked. I’m still not sure I fully get it – or if I need to. This reinforces how shallow our digital literacies can be. We learn what’s needed to perform online. We become good enough. The Tweet Meets raised a number of interesting questions:

Management of multiple twitter accounts for work and non-work subjects
Boundaries between professional and personal online identities
Profile image choices? (@TELEDALincoln is an egghead. I loved the suggestion it looked like a finger on the button!)
Ways to engage students with Twitter
Ideas and recommends for people/organisations to follow

There were also suggestions for the most appropriate hashtag e,g, #Tweetites, #Tweetettes or #Tweetpeeps I like #teledites but I collect fossils so I would.  #twite-quette was been used with regard to manners and #tw_eat_ing for twitter at meal times. Clearly, creativity is another reason to engage with tweeting!  #askTELEDA collated useful Twitter themed resources.

Ten Commandments of Twitter for Academics http://m.chronicle.com/article/10-Commandments-of-Twitter-for/131813
Twitter Top Tips http://www.slideshare.net/suebeckingham/twitter-top-tips
50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom http://www.teachhub.com/50-ways-use-twitter-classroom
25 interesting ways to use Twitter http://www.slideshare.net/travelinlibrarian/twenty-five-interesting-ways-to-use-tw 

Not bad for the first week! There are multiple reasons for engaging with Twitter, not least because it separates the hype from the reality. 140 characters encourages precision with words, attention to sentence construction, rethinking how to communicate via text. These are all useful transferable skills. Twitter is  like following a blog but quicker. Another name for tweeting is micro-blogging. The choice of who to follow is influenced by shared interests. Like wiki’s which harness the collective wisdom of crowds, Twitter offers links to information and alternative perspectives. what’s not to like?

Ultimately, Twitter is what you make of it. An online identity has become a prerequisite of professional practice. It shows engagement with digital ways of working and encourages us to consider how our digital selves mirror and extend our personality. Although the internet supports anonymity and alternative construction of character, we’re as recognisable online as off. Even in 140 characters or less.

twitter follow-@TLELDALincoln image from http://www.publiseek.com/publicity/12-reason-why-you-must-use-twitter-for-your-business/ @TELEDALincoln

image from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/10306627/Twitter-IPO-14-fun-facts.html 

Putting myself out there, so to speak, into digital space

academic obscura

Advice for finishing a PhD - don't diet (until it's all over)









Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age is back in October. This is Part Two; a short in-service course (24 weeks, 30 M level cats, @300 learning hours). It contains two learning blocks; social media for teaching and learning and e-resources; developing and using online content.

To help prepare, I’ve been putting myself out there, so to speak, into digital space. Apart from this blog, I was a dabbler.  Facebook for photos,  a tweet here and there and a bit of collaborative working on Google Drive was the extent of my S&M adventures. TELEDA1 stayed within Blackboard for communication; one reason being when it comes to group work, social media can be exclusive. Not everyone wants to sign up and engage. TELEDA2 is different. It’s being advertised with the expectation colleagues will use Twitter and create a profile on LinkedIn or other  ‘professional’ networking site like Academic.edu or ResearchGate.  It will be a challenging e-teaching experience. I hope I’m better prepared since I took SM more seriously.

It started with BBWorld14 in July; summarised in a series of reflective blog posts* on the experience of one of the biggest education conferences in the world. Using Storify I created a synthesis of my social media usage https://storify.com/suewatling/bbworld14-sue-watling-1 

During August I’ve taken Twitter seriously, with some useful outcomes. My numbers of retweets, favourites and followers have increased and my advice on surviving the write up of a PhD, begun by the Guardian Higher Education @GdnHigherEd, was included in #AcademiaObscura’s Finish That PhD in Twelve Steps https://storify.com/AcademiaObscura/finish-that-phd I’m in there at Number 6 with the meaningful advice Don’t Diet!

So what have I learned? Focusing on Twitter, where the tweet limit of 140 characters or less  makes it one for the more challenging platforms, here is my top twitter-advice for anyone wanting to adopt it as a professional networking tool.

Using Twitter takes time, imagination and confidence. That’s it!

It might not sound much but the learning curve was steeper than I expected. The first thing I noticed was I could tweet from home but not the office. To start with I simply forgot. To be consistent meant a shift in on-campus working behaviours to incorporate Twitter into daily routines. It takes time to follow, retweet, say something meaningful in a sentence – this is where the imagination comes it. You need a collection of aphorisms, proverbs or even terrible puns to tweak and adapt if you want to get noticed and confidence is required in buckets. It might just be me but linking to other people – like cold connecting – still feels a bit like gatecrashing. The internet is a mirror and using social media reflects your professional online identity. To be a non-user is to be invisible and risks exclusion in an increasingly digital society. It’s best to take control of the medium before it takes control of you. Benefits include discovery and connections which can be really useful.  Ultimately social media is like the Lottery, you have to be in it to win it!

I can’t wait to get started with TELEDA2 🙂

* Blog posts from July synthesising my social media adventures.

University of Lincoln has social authority in an age of digital expectation

Twitter Colleagues are a cross selection of twitterers. Some follow but don’t contribute, others make non-work updates only, some tweet a bit around their practice, while others don’t use it at all. None of us (or are not admitting it) follow Justin Bieber or those with over 30 million fans which social analytics tool followerwonk names as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Colleagues have differing views about twitter’s use and value and this reinforces the notion of digital literacies as digital mirrors.

Partially thanks to celebrity endorsement, Twitter division of opinions could all change. According to THES, the University of Lincoln’s Twitter account @UniLincoln has been ranked the 22nd most influential in the UK. This means the university has social authority.

Social authority sounds Orwellian. Big Google is watching you. I was surprised how few references were made to Orwell’s 1984 and the rewriting of the past in recent media coverage on deleting digital history.  There are now generations without knowledge of pre-internet life. After gender, the largest social divide is digital. I’m on the side with analogue roots. In half a century there’ll be none of us left.

These days I’m a technology DIY’er. On twitter, linkedin, flickr, I use delicious, pinterest and get edgy if I’m not online. I’ve crossed the digital divide. But there are times when the internet feels like it’s going off in directions I can’t – and am not sure I want – to follow.

Social authority is an example of the hip new language evolving out of social media use. According to http://followerwonk.com/social-authority social authority is ‘More than just another self-focused metric, Social Authority helps you discover influential tweeters.’  It’s no longer enough to tweet, you have to be influential too. The THES article links to the Moz blog  for explanations of the score components for calculating social authority. These are:

  • The retweet rate of a few hundred of the measured user’s last non-@mention tweets
  • A time decay to favor recent activity versus ancient history
  • Other data for each user (such as follower count, friend count, and so on) that are optimized via a regression model trained to retweet rate

I’m not sure I fully understand this new vocabulary, but apparently the half-life of a tweet is 18 minutes. Users who haven’t recently tweeted get their score ‘aggressively discounted’.  Retweets are a scarce commodity and we know what happens to those! An average user needs 10,000 followers before 25% of their tweets are retweeted so popularity bestows social authority. What Moz calls a ‘secret sauce‘ (which means ‘retweet bait‘ which means….)

The social impact of the internet has an increasingly linguistic element. The presentation of information  is changing too. It’s becoming more visual through infographics and sites like pinterest. The tweet’s requirement to send messages in 140 characters or less is encouraging brevity. Being succinct has value but higher education involves deeper more considered approaches through reflection and critical thinking.

Moz says social media is a ‘what have you done for me lately‘ medium. This reminds me of Christopher Lasch’s 1979 book the Culture of Narcissism. Like Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, it’s in my top two of dystopic non-fiction must-reads. Cultural historian Lasch offers a chilling pre-internet prophecy of egotistic social media. The subtitle includes ‘… an Age of Diminishing Expectations’. Social authority suggests the word diminishing could easily be replaced with digital.

Testing Twitter Widgets



One twitter feed.


1. Go to Settings and Help and select Settings.

2. From the Account menu on the left select Widgets.

3. From the Widgets menu select Create New, choose settings click Create Widget button to reveal the embed code.

4. Copy and paste this into the HTML page of your blog or website.

Twitter Settings menu    Twitter Account Settings menu  Twitter create new widget menu

It will look something like this 🙂

On abandoning Twitter…

In this weekend’s Independent on Sunday, Dom Jolly says he’s giving up Twitter, His reasons include Twitter is full of twats wasting their 140 characters on smug dullness, ‘Celebrity Twitter’ is the place for dull egos and the PM joining the Tweetfest confirms it is no longer the place to be. These are not Twitter tracks I follow. For me the joy of Twitter is tweet control. I think Jolly’s use of #betterthingstodo in relation to Twitter could be a little misleading.

On the subject of trolling Jolly does give good advice namely Do Not Feed – and there’s no doubt the current fad for Trolling is despicable but to cite ‘revolting/antisocial/shocking’ comments as a reason for abandoning the challenge of 140 characters or less is to miss out on its potential. Like all digital tools, it’s not what they are but the ways in which they’re used which increases their value.

I’m not a prolific Tweeter but when I check it’s rare not to pick up at least one link which is useful. Emails notifications saying someone is following me are checked out. It takes a couple of seconds. Anyone sounding commercial or just downright dodgy is blocked. I don’t know if that keeps the nuisance tweets down but there’s nothing worse that people boasting x thousand followers and at least of half of them being on the a commercial or enterprise bandwagon. The people I follow are those who might be genuinely useful in an educational capacity and who use Twitter professionally. Sometimes Twitter is an email substitute. There are two advantages. I know the tweet will get read and the space limit makes for concise communication. It sounds a bit like Jolly has let Twitter take control. Rather than castigate its dark side, it would be better to focus on the benefits to be had.

social homes

Reflecting on the blog below I feel a mixture of professional and social online identities is the ideal. This can offer a prospective employer a holistic view of you as a person. I’ve been engaged in a quest for the holy grail of online identities with which to do this;  one that incorporates everything into a single place. The closest I’ve come is over on the top right of this screen; the Social Homes plugin.  It’s a shame that all the icons are not working but this is close to the one-stop-shop I’ve been searching for.  

As well as saying something about us, this variety of tools demonstrates competence with Web 2.0 type software. It also shows we’re in control of what we chose to put online.  That’s not a bad thing. Even if we struggle with Facebook or Twitter we still need to engage if only for the benefits of networking and increasing our virtual profile.  This is one side of the digital divide where we clearly need to position ourselves. Apart from demonstrating that this is our forte, there’s also the separate issue that if we don’t take control of our online identity someone else may take it over instead.

one is enough…

The defection from Twitter to Yammer has been interesting; a few weeks ago we were twittering away then along came Yammer. It not only attracted a greater number of UL employees but those with dual status seem to have gradually moved across and deserted Twitter in favour of Yammer. There’s a noticeable decline in Facebook contributions too. It seems that one is enough. Two is too many. Is this the nature of Web 2.0 tools? The flavour of the month is easily replaced by a new taste. What will take over from Yammer? There must be something equally new and addictive just waiting in the wings.


twitter logo

Twitter tells other people what you are doing – in 140 characters or less – in the moment in which you are doing it. Quite Zen really.

I’m not sure about its value. It seems to do far less than other social networking tools; a case where less isn’t necessarily more. Maybe it’s more about harnessing Surowiecki’s wisdom of the crowd – or O’Reilly’s ethos of the more you use it the better it gets; the ‘harvesting of collective intelligence’. But even if I used it more, with a greater number of people, I’m still not convinced I would find any intrinsic value.


I thought I was the first to use the word but I’ve now come across ‘bloggage’ several times. @iandelaney uses it on Twitter. bloggage.me.uk is a blog title from Jimbo in Shoreham. The domain name http://www.bloggage.com is live but lacks content; is a website for bloggage verging on oxymoronic?

Do I do bloggage or do I produce it? It feels a bit like luggage – containers of personal artifacts – which can then be disconnected through the links of strangers and sent to far flung places. bloggage.me.uk has ended up here at learninglab.lincoln.ac.uk. I’m following @iandelaney on Twitter (although it feels uncomfortable, like virtual stalking). Or maybe bloggage is more like traffic. Where the blogs are the cars and bloggage is a conglomeration of them; a multi storey car park, or a traffic jam, or even a scrap heap of rusted unwanted vehicles; after all there are more unread blogs than read ones, more blogs are dead than alive. Blog rot is endemic. But however you interpret it, bloggage is a phenomena; indicative of Web 2.0 technology which gives individual voices the opportunity to be heard. To me, bloggage is the Internet in action; real people engaged in virtual communications – even it they are mostly talking into a digital void.