Tech Tool Tuesday (T3) #15 – Transition to Distance Education

Now that my Ed Tech doctoral course is over, I’m getting ready to teach Distance Learning beginning May 16. So, for the next couple of months, T3 will focus on e-learning: distance education, online learning, and mobile learning. So here we go …

Pulling in the Twitterverse

From a website

One of the best ways to learn more about what’s happening in e-learning is to tap into Twitter. To take this initial step, you don’t have to be a Twitter user. Simply search for topics, people, and terms using the Twitter Search engine.

You’ll see a list of Tweets on your topic that actually will continue to stream in, so keep the page open. The number of new posts will appear in parentheses on the Twitter Search browser tab. The screen shot below shows there have been an additional 29 posts to my elearning search in the last 5 minutes.

Click on the tab, refresh the page, and read through the new posts.

In addition to having a continuous stream of Tweets, you can also scroll through older posts. Go to the bottom of the page and click on Newer.

Notice that within 8 hours there were 16 pages of Tweets – 15 Tweets to a page … so that’s … where’s my calculator? That’s 240 Tweets. As I said earlier, Twitter is a great way to see what’s going on in e-learning.

With RSS

If you are already a Twitter user, have an account, or are getting ready to open one, you can use a third-party software program (client) to aggregate (pull in) Twitter feeds. (Here’s a post that explains RSS-Really Simple Subscription). To get connected to the Twitterverse, I suggest you use TweetDeck. It runs on your desktop in the background and makes it very easy to follow people and topics.

What I like best about TweetDeck is the column set-up. You can create columns for each feed that look something like this.

It will automatically provide a column for All Friends, Mentions, and Direct Messages. Then you can create columns for the hashtags you want to follow. Hashtagstags for short – are categories of Tweets (posts in Twitter) composed of words or phrases, beginning with the pound sign (#) that are added to the Tweet. You can follow these tags online (as described above) or with a Twitter client like TweetDeck. This screen shot is TweetDeck on my desktop. Notice the columns and titles of the feeds.

Notice some say, Search: #nameoftag. There are two ways that I know of to start pulling in information from a specific tag:

  1. When you see someone Tweet with a tag that you’re interested in, click on that tag and a new column will be created. This is especially helpful with conferences when tags are temporary. When you’re finished following the tag, click on the Twitter icon and delete the column.
  2. If you already know the tag that you want to follow, click on the + (shown below), type the tag into the text box, and you’ll have a new column that feeds you every Tweet with that tag.


I also like that I can change the settings to hear (or not hear) an audio signal that a new Tweet has been posted. In addition, I can change the location of the pop-ups of new posts. I choose the lower left corner of my desktop – it seems to be the least intrusive … and the most easily ignored. Here’s what the pop-up looks like:

It indicates where the new Tweets are from and how many there are; e.g., in this screen shot you can see that there are 38 new Tweets from people I follow. Clicking on the pop-up takes you directly to that column in TweetDeck.

That’s my intro to TweetDeck. Try it out for yourself. If you don’t like the interface, I’ve listed some other Twitter clients, as well as some other Twitter search tools and application resources.

Other Twitter clients

Other Twitter search tools


Pushing yourself into the Twitterverse

Start out by getting familiar with the way Twitter works – enjoy getting connected with others in the network and learn to sift through all the information you’ll see flying through TweetDeck. To make the shift to contributor and pusher of information, start by reTweeting (RT) someone’s interesting Tweet. Then sit back and have fun as your followers RTs your RT (see Ripple Effect). Keep expanding your PLN (see 3-tool PLN) and start thinking about ways to use Twitter in your classroom (see Tech Tool Tuesday #11).

You might be wondering how to find people to follow. Open your Twitter account, log in, and then go to my Twitter profile. Look at who I follow (Following) and at my Followers. Read through the profiles – each will have a short description the person has provided. Once you find someone you’re interested in following, click Follow and whenever they Tweet you’ll see it in your TweetDeck. To continue building your Twitter network, you can go to people you’re following and see who they follow. Also, once you begin to follow certain hashtags you’ll see people that you want to follow. Simply click on their names in TweetDeck and their profiles will come up in a new column – click Follow.

Enjoy and Tweet out how you’re doing.


2 thoughts on “Tech Tool Tuesday (T3) #15 – Transition to Distance Education

  1. Pingback: e-Learning Post #7 « Cycling Through Ed Tech

  2. Thank you for sharing and demystifying Twitter. I have an account but it’s time to refresh. I just got an idea about integrating its use in my e-course design.

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