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.