After you’ve watched the video, your first activity for the week is to go to the Twitter homepage and look at the trending topics. How do those topics compare with the sort of uses and discussions mentioned in the video? What do you think of the current trending topics? And how do they compare to what the people you’re following on Twitter are talking about? If you’re following people on Twitter, you might also want to explore some of the hashtags they’re using – are there any hashtags that are turning up a lot in your feed right now?
RE: Official Thread: Trending Topics on Twitter
I have never paid much attention to the Twitter Trends section. I have, on occasion, scanned through them, but have never seen anything remotely of interest to me. However, upon seeing this activity, I went to see how the results in Trends would change if I “tailored” the trends to suit my profile. I was not impressed. Twitter asked me for my location, rather than specific questions on interests I might have. It’s almost insulting to think that they can pique my interest in Trends merely by showing me what’s popping up in Melbourne, or, dare I contemplate, the entire nation of Australia! Ugh…
As for hashtags, I have used them for my own curation purposes, but, more notably, I have used them to participate in MOOC chats and follow Twitter streams in conferences I have organised and attended. People love seeing their tweets on the screen in e-Learning conferences and the like – it’s a good way to build new professional networks and glean stories of innovation from others in the same field.
I love using them in these capacities… so much so, that I have even given classes to Twitter newbies based on a hashtag, and showing a F2F class the Twitterfall live on the screen as we’re discussing topics in class. I have found it to be a really good way to get the quiet ones in the group to participate more and not feel inhibited about putting forth an idea or contributing to the conversation.
Right now, at work, we’re about to launch a MOOC. One of the imperative parts to somehow making the participants feel part of the process (which is not easy in a “massive” group) is to enable a dialogue between participants both inside and outside of the course. Not only can it be a medium for the instructors and moderators to answer any questions, but it can provide a great outlet for conversations which might occur impromptu around the parts of the MOOC that are generating ideas and interest. Here’s hoping… I will find out if these aspirations transpire by April.
MOOCs are not easily defined – the drop-out rates are high, as they’re free and optional for people. But, if there’s a way to make those numbers increase, I’m interested in exploring all options. Twitter and Social Media (for busy people who enrol in MOOCs as an additional task to their normal workloads) may just be the key to keep them engaged to see it right through to completion.
Thanks for this – and good luck with the new MOOC!
The use of hashtags for specific chats and conference discussions is an interesting example, since there are different functions going on here; particularly with conferences, the hashtag stream can act as an informational service, providing live notes on speakers and presentations, and also provide a backchannel-like function (where commentary can be irreverent as well as on-topic or informative). Granted, most conferences I go to are around internet studies and media and communication, so you would expect a strong social media aspect to the conference, but I find it increasingly rare to go to a conference without a pre-defined hashtag (or without a hashtag being decided within the first hour, for smaller colloquiua and symposia) since the use of Twitter at these events is now well-established. These are also useful for people who are unable to attend the conference, and for people at the conference to contribute and read comments without having to follow everyone at the event – and also a great point about people who might not contribute in-person but might tweet comments instead. Do you find that you get people participating in the Twitter discussions who are not physically attending the conferences?
Oh, yes indeed!
I have tapped into conferences going on in other states that I haven’t been able to attend in person. Likewise, I scan tweets to the conference’s hashtag to see what’s going on in break-out sessions that I can’t go to, or to see what people are commenting on from afar. Sometimes, I find that these non-attendees actually know the person speaking and are pushing great information on the speaker’s accomplishments and published material that may be of interest to me to read post-event.
Generally, I have attended conferences regarding the library sector, information studies, and, more recently e-learning and Instructional Design. A conference without a hashtag does not impress people in these sectors much these days, I agree. Hence, having formerly been on a committee to organise an Information Literacy Seminar with fellow librarians, I insisted on introducing a hastag for the event over the last two years. I thought it was a good way to encourage those librarians who were still ambivalent about the technology to take part. Plus, having the Twitter stream on display during the conference was a great way to read people’s thoughts and feedback about what they were thinking during the keynotes and the breakout sessions. It was good to see it so well received.
Yes, I had forgotten that word… back-channel
As you said, that back-channel can contain irreverent comments as well as provide juicy tidbits of information and URLs that can further elaborate upon what’s being discussed, or even others’ experiences in the same field.