Musings and professional dossier of an educator, geographer, and educational developer

Category: Social Media

A week as the host of the rocur account @iamscicomm

For a week in late March, I guest-hosted the rocur (rotation curation) account @iamscicomm.  My initial motivation for hosting the account was to disseminate recent research on science communication and graduate training. Hosting this account would allow me to have a greater reach than the reach of my and my colleagues twitter followers. My hope was that by engaging with a community that’s already excited about #scicomm, I could move past sharing our work into engaging in a dialogue.  I’m so pleased that our work was discussed with such excitement and that it was shared over 75 times during the week.

Amanda Freise started the week by introducing me to @iamscicomm followers.

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For real though, develop a science communication strategy

My colleagues and I recently argued that scientists-in-training would benefit from developing an individual science communication strategy.   We’re not the first to suggest this, and we recommend reading Practical science communication strategies for graduate students (Kuehne & colleagues, 2014) and Considerations for effective science communication (Cooke & colleagues, 2017) to help early-career and in-training scientists start to
create such a strategy.  But I’m feeling like it needs to be said again: scientists would benefit from developing an individual science communication strategy.

I’m a little troubled by workshops and resources that teach scientists how to do #scicomm (that is, web 2.0, social media heavy science communication) without any consideration or even a brief mention as to whether this is a fitting strategy. By jumping immediately to how to build a personal brand, choose a hashtag, and decide how often to post on 7 different social media platforms,  the assumption is made that developing your own social media brand is the best strategy.

Building a lively and energized following on multiple platforms is an effective strategy for many scientists, and it may also be a valuable strategy for you.  But, have you given enough attention to other possible modes of science communication that may be a better fit with your goals, available energy, and personal strengths?

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The casually tweeting instructor

Photo: Beth Hundey, Uinta Mountains

Photo: Beth Hundey, Uinta Mountains

There are many great examples of assessments and activities on the web that involve using twitter to interact with students… but what about those instructors who would like to use twitter on a bit more of a casual basis?  If you’re not assessing students, and just communicating, are there rules? Is it a free-for-all? Go wild?

Here are tips for the casually tweeting instructor by the casually tweeting instructor .

Setting up

  1. Create a hashtag unique to your class.  Using this hashtag, students can see what you have said, but also follow the discussion of their classmates (provided they also use the hashtag, when relevent. Basically, a hashtag serves as a common discussion topic.
    1. Think up a hashtag. E.g. #litwestern #ENG2500
    2. Search for the hashtag in twitter.  If nothing (or very little) is returned, this is a unique hashtag
    3. Tell students to include the hashtag in the posts intended to be shared with the class.
    4. You have now completed the most important task. #hashtag
  2. Ask students to follow you.
  3. Don’t follow students back (and tell them you’re not going to!).  You can still see what they post about the class because they will either include your handle or the hashtag.  You don’t need to know what else they are tweeting about, and it could cause problems if you do know what else they are tweeting about.

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How To Add A Live Twitter Feed To Your PowerPoint Presentation

These instructions via Liz Gross on displaying live twitter feeds in powerpoint are perfect for those of you who want to display tweets in class. I think it would be great to display my class hashtag as students come in to class as something visual to get them in the mindset and to see what’s been said in the last week on twitter by their classmates.

Collaborative Mind-Mapping Sesh a Succesh!

I’m not sure how other educators decide when to incorporate active learning, but for me the process goes something like this:

Not total chaos...

Not total chaos…

In sum, I generally develop/ incorporate active learning activities to deal with the boring-lecture-problem, rather than start off with active learning activities that I’m dying to incorporate.  This might explain why I use the most random mix of active learning activities, many of which don’t have names (that I know of).

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Why twitter-ed? The noobie edition

I, too, resisted twitter, not so long ago.  Then, I took a great teaching training program in which I had to come up with a research topic for my final written project. I wanted to research ways to effectively engage a large class, as my first lecture for my first class loomed before me. Lo and behold, I found that twitter might be just the tool to help me connect. It’s safe to say I’m now converted (and I use it in small classes as well).  Now I find myself frequently vouching for the merits of twitter for teaching and learning.

So, if you are an educator who has never clicked on the little blue bird and signed yourself up for 140 characters worth of self-expression, this post is for you. This is is not the how, this is the why. And highly effective teachers who use technology always start with the why.  So…

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