Sunday, January 27, 2013

How to Decode a Tweet

When you first start using Twitter, one of the things you have to figure out is how to decode Tweets. What does each part represent? What does it mean when a word starts with a #?

Below is a Tweet as it might be displayed on the Twitter website when viewed on a computer. Note that not all Tweets might include all of these exact attributes. If you are using an app or third-party service like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to read your Tweets, they might look slightly different, but the parts will still be there somewhere. Scroll on down under the sample Tweet to see brief explanations of the parts! (Accurate as of the time of this post. Twitter has a habit of rearranging these things once in a while!)

1. Avatar - A photo or graphic which represents the person or company sending the Tweet. If you click the avatar, an abbreviated version of the Tweeter's profile will display, and from it you can visit their complete profile if you want to know more about them.

2. Tweeter's Name - In theory, this is the real name of the real person behind the Tweet. Some Twitter users decide to use their username or another unique name here. It depends on what they set up in their profile when they signed up for Twitter.

3. Twitter Username/Handle - The name a person is known by on Twitter. Some users use their real name again here. Others, like Mark Warren in the Tweet above, use a representative name. In this case, Mark chose @MagisterWarren, representing the fact that he is a Latin teacher.

4. Shortened URL - A large number of Tweets include links to websites the Tweeter feels will be useful to their followers or which explains more about what they are saying in the Tweet. URLs will almost always be shortened in some way to help leave more room for other information within the 140 character Tweet limit.

5. Tweet Text - The meat of the Tweet. All of the text in black is part of the "message" the Tweeter is conveying.

6. Hashtag - Hashtags help categorize the topic of a Tweet on Twitter. Using them can help others who are not following you find your content, and they help your followers quickly scan their Tweet streams to find topics of interest to them. Occasionally, hashtags are used #justforfun to make a comment. Hashtags are very useful but can be mysterious at first. I encourage you to learn more about them and use them. The best explanation of hashtags I've ever come across can be found here

7. Time and/or Date of Tweet - This just lets you know how long ago the Tweet was sent out. After 24 hours, it will display a date. (NOTE: You can also click the Time/Date of a Tweet to be taken to a unique web page where the Tweet "stands alone". This will allow you to make a link to a specific Tweet if you wish, like this: Click to read a past Tweet of  mine.)

8. RT - Indicates a "Re-Tweet", or re-posting of someone else's Tweet. Third party Twitter clients like Hootsuite make it easy to send out RTs in this way. On the Twitter website itself, if you use the Retweet feature, it will simply repost the Tweet "as-is" out to your followers, with no RT symbol in front. Sometimes, RTs are also indicated by quotation marks around the entire Tweet. Multiple possibilities - with time, you'll come to recognize them all!

9. Mention of Another Twitter User - When an "@" is placed in front of a word in a Tweet, Twitter assumes you are mentioning another Twitter user. You can click on that user's name/handle and see their latest Tweets.

It's good etiquette to mention the original Tweeter of a Tweet in an RT, as was done in the example above. Sometimes, you might start a Tweet with a mention of someone's handle to let them know you are speaking directly to them. If you do that, the Tweet still appears on your public page, but only shows up in the timeline of the person addressed and anyone who follows both you and that person. If you want to mention a user but want all of your followers to see it, make sure you put their name somewhere other than the start of the Tweet. See examples below.

10. Click to Reply - Click the Reply link to reply back to a Tweet you found interesting. It helps the recipient if you reference the original Tweet. For example "Really enjoyed the story on BYOD. Thank you for sharing!" instead of just "Great story. Thanks!"

11. Click to Retweet - Is there some great information in that Tweet you just read that your followers would benefit from? Click the "Retweet" link to spread the learning!

12. Click to Favorite - You can keep a list of Favorite Tweets. Maybe there is a link to an article you don't have time to read right now. "Favorite" it, then go to the Me page on your Twitter profile to access it later. You can then click Favorited to "unfavorite" the Tweet when you are done with it.

13. Advanced Options - Currently includes the ability to email a Tweet to someone (maybe if you do that often enough you'll convince someone to join Twitter) or copy embed code to embed a Tweet in another website (embedding allows the Tweet to remain "live" in the website, so people can reply, retweet, etc, directly from the site).

Ok, there you have it! Probably more than you ever wanted to know about how to decode a Tweet! If you are new to Twitter, or even if you've been on it for a while, I hope this has helped you become more comfortable with the platform. Happy Tweeting!

Shoutout to The Connection blog. I used this Anatomy of a Tweet post in a workshop I taught last year, and based on its model, decided to write an updated version.

If this post interested you, you might also be interested in the resources I've put together in a LiveBinder on Twitter for Professional Learning, and another blog post I've written called Grow Your Twitter Network with a Spiffed Up Profile.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Search for Mobile Apps Using Google

Yesterday I learned from a TCEA Tweet that Google has launched an app search feature. What a cool tool for those of us working in mobile learning environments - whether they be individual teacher devices, pods of classroom devices, 1:1, or BYOD - to use to explore app possibilities without having to log into an app store first!

I played with app search a little and made a quick tutorial video to show you how to access it and an idea I had for combining it with Google's advanced search feature. Hope this is helpful to you! If you have any other ideas for using Google's new app search, please share below in the comments.

Unable to display video. Adobe Flash is required.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Your Facebook Privacy is YOUR Responsibility, Not Your Friends'...

Social networking is a great way to share our lives and keep in touch with friends, but it's important that we all keep ourselves educated on how our settings work and only share information about privacy that is accurate.

For example, I've lost count of how many of my friends have posted the status below in recent weeks:

Hello, FB friends: I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. I post shots of my family that I don't want strangers to have access to! However, with the recent changes in FB, the "public" can now see activities in ANY wall. This happens when our friend hits "like" or "comment" ~ automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we can not change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it this way. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS" (also without clicking), then down to "Settings", click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on "COMMENTS & LIKE" and also "PHOTOS". By doing this, my activity among my friends and family will no longer become public. Now, copy and paste this on your wall. Once I see this posted on your page I will do the same. Thanks!

The information Above is Grossly Misleading and Inaccurate

  • It's NOT true that the public can see activities on any wall. Unless the wall owner wants them to. You are still in control of the audience for your posts. (Scroll below for some links that will tell you more about your Facebook privacy.)
  • If you read carefully and think about what the instructions say, you'll see that if they are followed, all your friends will succeed in doing is hiding your comments, likes, and photos from themselves. Don't you want  your Facebook friends to see these things?
  • IF the instructions were accurate (they aren't; see previous bullet point), in order to work, they would depend on ALL of your Facebook friends reading them (how many of your friends log in only occasionally or not at all?) and ALL of your Facebook friends following them (just like you do everything your friends tell you to do in their posts, right?)

If the Information is Wrong, Why Is It Spreading?

This post is going viral on Facebook because it appeals to our trust in our friends and our desire for privacy, even in the online world. But how much do we REALLY care about our online "privacy"? Enough to copy and re-post an inaccurate set of instructions, but perhaps not enough to go to the little gear at the top right of our Facebook pages and click on our Privacy Settings to check them out or click on Help to search and try to confirm if the instructions we are posting really work. (I won't even delve into the irony of wanting "privacy" when we willingly post our personal thoughts and artifacts all over our profiles.) 

What If I Really Care About My Facebook Privacy?

If you really are concerned about how far the information you post on Facebook spreading, you might want to check out the links below. I found these by searching Facebook Help, which although still a complicated land, has been improved in its organization.

Why Are You Writing About This on an EdTech Blog?

I'm writing about this because digital citizenship and digital literacy are topics I am passionate about. So much so that it's hard for me to sit quietly when wrong information is circulating. Ask my friends who have gotten personal replies on their walls after posting the notice that started this blog post! After seeing this too many times to count, I figured it was time to try and reach out and enlighten an audience larger than just my own friends. Also, it will be faster for me to share one link to this blog post when needed, rather than the multiple links I've been sharing (the bulleted list above).

No matter what our age, all of us need to be continuous learners when it comes to the online world. Because technology always changes. Because as young people we are growing up in a technology saturated world where there is no longer a distinct separation between the online and offline spheres in our lives. Because as adults we are responsible for helping young people (and our peers) navigate ever-evolving digital waters.

Don't Feel Bad If A Friend Sent You Here Because You Posted the Aforementioned Status!

First of all, your friend cares about you if they cared enough to help you accurately learn about your privacy settings. Second of all, Facebook privacy (and online privacy in general) are constantly moving targets. If you're confused, you're in good company.  If the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg can get tripped up by her privacy settings, it's a good bet it can happen to any one of us at any time.

Now Go Forth and Educate Yourself and Your Friends!

Hopefully, you've learned a few new privacy tips from this blog post. Now, continue the learning and spread it to others. The two most effective things you can do are regularly check your own privacy settings to make sure you are sharing what you want with whom you want, and gently let your friends know if they are spreading inaccurate information or you suspect they might be sharing info with a larger audience than intended.

If each of us takes responsibility for our own privacy, we'll be protecting ourselves as well as our friends.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Who Are Your Top 5 Education Tweeps to Follow?

I know questions like this are insanely hard, but that doesn't stop me from asking them! In preparation for a Twitter for Professional Learning workshop I'm leading at the TCEA Convention in early February, I'd like to know who your top 5 education folks to follow on Twitter are and why.

You might think of it this way: If the Twitter rules changed one day and you could only follow five people in education, who would they be? I'm hoping to get a wide variety of recommendations, including subject specific, K-12, and higher education. There's an "Other" category on the survey, too, because I knew I'd leave something important out!

I would really appreciate your input! Please take a few moments to fill out the form below. And if you don't want to go for all 5, the form only requires that you fill out one. I will be sure to share the results here on my blog right around the time of the convention, so everyone will benefit from your recommendations.

Thanks in advance for your contribution!

NOTE: As of 2/3/13, the survey is closed. But, you can click here to see who my PLN recommended.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Techlandia - A New Edtech Podcast

I just found out about a new edtech podcast called Techlandia. It is created by Texas elementary educational technologist Jon Samuelson  and Oregon K-8 teacher Alison Anderson, and they are using it as a vehicle to  share apps and websites teachers will find useful in teaching and learning as well as recommending folks to follow on Twitter.

I discovered Techlandia because Jon let me know he gave me a shoutout in the latest episode. It was a very nice shoutout which put a big smile on my face!

If podcasts are one of the ways you like to learn about new edtech resources, check out Techlandia. You can find it on iTunes or PodOmatic. Below I've embedded Episode 3, where Jon was so kind to give me a glowing Twitter recommendation.

Thanks, Jon, for the nice mention, and for also slipping in a nice shoutout to the educators who are part of the Edubroncofans group on Twitter! Good luck to you and Alison as you continue your podcast adventures!

Are You a Disgruntled Educator?

Public Domain Image Used With Permission
Earlier this week, a non-educator friend of mine posted this article on 5 Toxic Beliefs That Ruin Careers on Facebook. Curious, I took a look at it, and although it is aimed at people working in the business world, I found myself interpreting it through my educator's lens. And feeling convicted on more than one of the points.

I must interject here that I disagree a bit that believing my destiny is controlled by the supernatural (#3 in the article linked in the previous paragraph) is always toxic. I have faith in a God who does care about my life, and whom I lean on to help me through the slumps. I try not to blame him for the circumstances, but do seek his wisdom in dealing with them. Without his supernatural intervention, I don't know where I would be!

Throughout our life's work, we experience highs and lows - periods where we can't imagine doing anything else with our lives and other times when if we were offered an eject button and promised we'd land in a nice, comfy, everyone-is-happy-with-what-they-do job, we wouldn't hesitate to push it. It's normal to experience these ups and downs.

What I found myself thinking, though, is how very tragic it can be for the students or teachers we serve if we get stuck in one of those lows. We may think being disgruntled, or working under the influence of toxic beliefs, only hurts us, but the truth is, no matter how much we try to cover up, our lack of satisfaction with our work is going to affect the people we serve. In the best case scenario, we might manage to put on a smile and make it through the day, but our students and colleagues are not getting the best we could offer. In a worst case scenario, we may not be pleasant to be around, and we force those around us to tolerate or survive us, rather than be focused on their own teaching and learning.

Education is a unique career in that it is a path, that when chosen, is often pursued because one feels called to do it for the betterment of others. Because educators invest so heavily in the lives of others, I think they are obligated to seek to be happy in and with their work the majority of the time.

If you are currently in a low period (or when you wind up in one), don't beat yourself up, but do think about the fact that in addition to being miserable yourself, you are likely affecting those around you in a negative way. If those people are your students, they are a captive audience, and they are depending on you to work toward getting out of your funk so you can be as good a teacher as possible for them. Take advantage of a new year to try and work your way out of the slump. You might try looking at the toxic beliefs and see if any of them are keeping you down. A related article, How to Be Happy at Work, might give you some ideas for working out of one or more of your slump areas.

Educators answer to many bosses in the form of the administrators who oversee us, the parents whose children we teach, and policy makers and enforcers. There are some things we can't change about our jobs, but our attitude is almost always subject to adjustment by our own efforts, and, in my opinion, a little divine help!

I hope your new calendar year is getting off to a good start. If you have any insights into how to deal with the low periods of your career, please share them in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

EdTechSandyK's Top Five Posts of 2012

White Rocket Burst
Used With Permission
As the new year begins, I thought it would be interesting to start my 2013 postings by looking back on the five most popular posts on this blog from 2012. It's instructive moving forward to reflect on what was on my mind and what resonated most with my readers over the past 12 months.

Based on Blogger's built-in stats reporting, here are the Top Five Posts of 2012 in order from most page views to least:

  1. Parent Concerns in a 1:1 iPad Initiative, October 5, 2012 - Although my district is not involved in a large scale 1:1 implementation, a mother whose son is in a 1:1 iPad school in another district contacted me because of blog entries I had previously made on the topic. She was looking for help in managing her son's time spent on the iPad at home. With her permission, I posted her email and my advice to her on my blog. The ideas shared in the comments on the post make it a great resource for schools and districts who are helping parents and students transition to 1:1 learning.
  2. Trying to Ban Facebook is Not the Answer, February 22, 2012 - After seeing a news story about a Florida charter school which had sent a letter home to parents encouraging them to get their children off of Facebook, this post flowed out of me like no other post I can remember. I was largely incredulous that a school would even ask such a thing in the year 2012, and also sad that they were choosing to address problems by trying to bury them rather than attempting to work with parents and students to help them appropriately navigate our social media saturated world. This post is currently my personal all-time favorite.
  3. School iPad Implementations: What Would You Do Differently?, October 19, 2012 - Upon learning that my district would for the first time be implementing iPads for student use and being tasked with helping to create a plan for said use, I reached out to my Twitter network via my blog to ask for advice from those who had gone before. A lot of great ideas were shared in the comments. The popularity of this post also shows that we're all looking to learn from the early adopters in the iPad/mobile learning arena.
  4. 1:1 iPads in a Third Grade Classroom, June 24, 2012 - This post was a compilation of notes I took in a session I attended at the one day iPadpalooza conference at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. I like to post conference notes to my blog because it gives me a one-stop-shop for finding my learnings no matter where I am or on what computer, and it extends the reach of the insights shared. Again, the popularity of this post on  my blog shows that educators are hungry for information and practical ideas when it comes to mobile device implementation in the classroom.
  5. Supporting Teachers and Students in the Curation of Their Digital Footprint, February 7, 2012 - In February of 2012, I presented this topic to attendees of the TCEA Campus Leadership Academy, which was held as part of the annual TCEA Convention and Exposition in Austin, Texas. I posted my presentation slides to my blog, as I try to do with all of my professional presentations. Again, much like posting notes I take at conferences, I believe posting my presentations increases the potential reach and impact of the information I'm sharing. I'm pleased to see that it has received many hits over the past year. I also have to credit my preparation for this presentation for equipping me to write the #2 post on this list about Facebook.

And so my Top Five Posts of 2012 list is complete. Five may be a short list to draw any major conclusions from, but there is definitely an iPad/mobile learning theme and a social media/digital citizenship theme in this list. It will be interesting to see what themes/trends evolve in the year ahead. What topics do you think will get the most screen-time in the Edublogosphere in 2013?

I wish you a Healthy and Happy 2013 as we explore the future together!