It matters what you Tweet!

Earlier this week we celebrated Constitution Day. By the end of the week, a free-speech controversy erupted in Kansas. The controversy comes back to the issue of

“Even though I have the right to say it, should I say it?”

This controversy provides the means to discuss with students the far reaching affects of a tweet, facebook post, email or text message or even words said in a conversation. We all need to remember to T.H.I.N.K. before hitting that send/post button!

rules-of-social-media

Is There an App for that?

Today, I read the blog, How We Developed a Mobile App for Our School District, You Can Do It Too. The Judson Independent School District used Conduit to create a mobile app (JISD Connect) that aggregates several of their online sites. By using Conduit, the app pulls from existing resources such as Facebook, Twitter, Picasa images, RSS feeds, YouTube, and more.

Since the author claimed that I could ‘Do It Too’, I decided to try and create an app for the district. Right away, I ran into problems. The district web site does not provide RSS feeds. I could pull data from Facebook and Twitter — but those accounts are for Nemaha Valley High School and not the district. So, I started working with a Nemaha Valley High School app that would pull the Twitter and Facebook feeds. Knowing that there are great articles on the NVHS side of the district web site, I investigated converting the site to an RSS feed. I was able to do that with a trial account on Feedity. That allowed me to add the web site to the NVHS app — with some issues. Unfortunately, the ‘read more’ links at the end of article blurbs show up as feeds. Eliminating these detractors will take more time and possibly a more expensive account level.

 

Link to trial mobile app for NVHS: http://mob.conduit.com/e8fd1280-84df-4455-af21-cceb264110f5

My second trial at app creation was using a teacher blog or web site. Knowing that my blog had RSS feeds enabled, I experimented with it. I was able to add the blog and my twitter account to the app.

Link to app created from my blog and Twitter account: http://mob.conduit.com/00bda316-0a4d-4339-b53e-05b9a5e2353b

Since most of our teachers are now using Google Sites instead of the wordpress blog, my next experiment was to see if I could turn a teacher site into an app. I found one teacher, Kelly Williams, with RSS feeds enabled on two sections of his site. I was able to use those feeds to create his app — but it isn’t pulling the feeds from his home page.

Link to mobile app for Kelly Williams’ web site: http://mob.conduit.com/86513feb-8a6c-4c4b-97ee-2d6dde6b6d04

So, can we do it too? Yes — But. In order to make this work, we need web sites with working RSS feeds or access to a feed converter such as Feedity ($39), active Twitter accounts, active Facebook pages (not accounts), etc. We will also have to register to be an app developer for both Apple ($99) and Android (Google Play $25).

Thinking that I could easily create an app from the NV Forensics Facebook site, I played with that one only to discover that it won’t work. I’m guessing it isn’t working because NV Forensics is a ‘person’ that has to be friended — not a page.

Is this worth pursuing? YES! Even though there are issues, having an app for the district, building or teacher web site will be worth the time, effort and cost.

Thankful for Facebook

In the education community, Facebook is often a dirty word. When social networking first appeared on the scene, teens had no sense of privacy and posted anything/everything and adults didn’t understand this new form of communication. About 10 years ago, our students were very active on Xanga before moving to My Space. When Facebook opened the door to high school students they migrated there. Over the years, the students have learned to be more selective about their posts and adults have discovered Facebook. Unfortunately, Facebook hasn’t lost its forbidden status in the educational community.

Fortunately, my administration hasn’t condemed the site. In fact, they’ve embraced the usage of Facebook. Over the past couple of years I’ve come to love Facebook and the connectivity it provides. For me, Facebook means

  • A personal learning community
  • Connection to distant relatives
  • Re-connecting with high school classmates – and developing online friendships
  • News / weather updates
  • Getting to know fellow faculty and staff better
  • Entertainment during a blizzard (I was a Farmville addict while snowed in last year)

Thus, I’m thankful for Facebook and the ability it provides to reach out and touch.

At the Click of a Button

It’s magic! I click a button to bookmark a web site and ‘magic’ happens!

Although it appears that I spend time on Facebook, Twitter, Delicious and Diigo posting links to web sites, it is all happening from Firefox with the click of a button. When I find a site of interest, I make sure I’m in Firefox and just click my Diigo toolbar icon and select Bookmark This. After adding tags (suggested and ones I make up), I just make sure the option to post to Twitter is checked and click OK.

Then the magic begins. The click of the button causes the bookmark to be posted to my Diigo account and to Twitter. From there, it goes to my Delicious account. From Delicious it goes to Raider Tags, a WordPress blog, where my new bookmarks are posted daily. My delicious tags are also posted as a box on my Facebook page.

Since my Twitter feed is connected to my Facebook account, anything I post on Twitter is automatically shared on Facebook. Thus, my Diigo bookmark gets shared on Facebook via Twitter.

Now, I just need to add some more magic and connect my Goodreads account to my blog.

Microblogging – 23 Things Kansas

As a school librarian with the added task of maintaining the school’s computers and network, I probably spend more time with technology than most school librarians. Because the technology side of my job changes rapidly, I try to take advantage of chances to learn about how to apply new technology in a school setting. For me, this has been library conference and the MACE conference. For those who have never attended MACE, it is an excellent opportunity to learn about a variety of tools, many of them freely available, that can be used in a school setting. It is thru MACE that I first got introduced to Twitter and Plurk.

I have Twitter, Plurk and Google Buzz accounts but prefer Twitter as a microblogging tool. Because Twitter has such a large base of users, I’ve found it easier to locate people and organizations I want to follow than on Plurk or Google Buzz. Another feature that I like about Twitter is the ability to follow a topic thru the use of hashtags. Thanks to a mention by WIBW’s weather team, I discovered Hootsuite. Hootsuite not only allows you to see all of your Twitter activity but allows you to create a panel showing only the public tweets on a topic. For example, during the summer I used Hootsuite to follow the hashtag #ksstorms. Because meteorologists and storm chasers use that hashtag to post storm information, I was able to track approaching severe weather while at work.

Another advantage of Twitter is the ability to integrate it. Since I don’t spend my day glued to Twitter, I have a gadget on my desktop that shows tweets from those I follow. I’ve also recently discovered ways to connect Diigo to Delicous and Twitter and Twitter to Facebook.

Sometimes, one of the challenges to using Twitter is finding people to follow. When I participate in a webinar or attend a conference, I will often try to find the presenter on Twitter and follow them. Sometimes, that is a challenge if they don’t disclose their Twitter identity and don’t use their name as their Twitter ID. During this year, I’ve added Linda Braun (lbraun2000), YALSA, VOYA and EdWeek to my ‘following’ list. Because of a personal interest in H1n1, I also added quite a few people and organizations active in tracking the worldwide spread of this disease.

Even though I rarely have the Twitter website open, I am a Twitter fan because of its ability to push information to my desktop. Recent research, however, indicates that teens do not see a need for Twitter. In their world, text messaging and Facebook are the primary ways to share information because they are more private. In contrast, it is the public aspect of Twitter and the ability to quickly share information that I find valuable. Thus, for now, I’ll remain a fan of Twitter and Hootsuite.

Facebook – Fun or Work or BOTH

Late last year, I signed up to participate in 23 Things Kansas to force myself  to learn more about and practice online tools. In week 2, we are being asked to use an online community and blog about our experiences. I first joined the online community, My Space, about six years ago. When the students switched to Facebook, I created an account there. I found Facebook easier to use than MySpace since I didn’t have to do any ‘creation’ tasks to have a working account. At some point, someone recommended LinkedIn as a professional social network. When the Methodist church provided the social networking site 7 Villages, I also joined that network. At least in Kansas, the Methodist church discovered the same thing that I was finding – it doesn’t pay to have segregated social networks since no one has the time to keep up with multiple networks. Thus, I’m now a Facebook user and rarely check the other accounts.

Over the past two years I’ve come to understand why Facebook is so important to teens and young adults. Facebook has allowed me to not only see pictures of my nieces and nephews but to also get to know their likes and dislikes when I only see them a couple of days a year. I find that posts others see as trivia help me to know my ‘friends’ better. As a participant on a statewide committee in the Methodist Church, I’ve found Facebook a way to get to know the other members when we rarely meet. By adding the WIBW meteorologists to my friends list, I’ve enjoyed the weather updates that they post. Information about the Haiti earthquake and relief effort is now a major part of my wall posts as I’ve joined several groups. Facebook is rapidly becoming my information system.

Even though I like Facebook and see potential educational uses, I have to agree that it has its negative aspects. One can spend a lot of time on Facebook appearing to carry out very little. During one of our recent snow storms, I got inquisitive about all the posts I was seeing about Farmville and now am hooked on the game.

I would like to use Facebook to connect students to the library, particularly during evening hours. Now, I just need to find the time to figure out the best way to configure a library page and how to push content out to the students.

Evolving Facebook

As one who has had a Facebook account for several years, it is just in the past year that I’ve personally become somewhat active on the site. As I’ve become more active on Facebook and other web 2.0 sites, I’ve witnessed the tearing down of walls that separate various aspects of my life. Five years ago, I was very concerned about separating my personal activities (primarily genealogy and church) from my school related activities. I’ve had separate email accounts, blogs and web sites. However, I’ve found that I can’t keep up with all of these separate accounts — especially if I tried to have separate “personalities” on Facebook and Twitter.

As I’ve become more active on these sites, I’ve found them to be great tools for communication.

http://weblogg-ed.com/2009/facebook-as-tipping-point/

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1879169,00.html

http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2009/03/12/social-networking-web-20-and-learning-what-the-research-says/