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We need social media etiquette

We need to develop social media etiquette. Some of the conversations I have seen on Twitter have been out of control rhetoric, other tweets have just contributed to the noise, and benefitted no one. During our discussion on how to make Twitter more accessible to new people, I tweeted some "rules" that if all followed, Twitter would be a lot more accessible and usable for everyone.

Of course, these rules are just my interpretation of what should be useful, and probably need to be reworked. Also, the idea for this comes from the email charter, which I strongly recommend you make an effort to implement for yourself.

  1. The network is capable of only so much information. Don’t overload the network.
  2. Be kind to each other, and assume that tweet did not convey the message intended.
  3. Links are a way of sharing extra information in a conversation. Use them sparingly.
  4. When you see a question asked, answer it, even if your answer is to redirect the questioner to another source of information.
  5. The purpose of the social media is not to gain influence, it’s to communicate ideas. Don’t forget the social in social media!
  6. Where reasonable, give attribution to ideas that you find & your sources of information.
  7. Take some time to think about what you are tweeting. Is this contributing to the conversation?
  8. It’s okay to disagree with someone, but do it respectfully. Don’t tweet what you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
  9. Be safe. Stop before you click on a link & think, does this link have a context which makes sense?
  10. Stop making lists of the "best people" to follow on Twitter. This is completely subjective & exclusionary.

There are other "rules of Twitter etiquette" out there. Here is a page for Twitter etiquette that @jlubinsky found and here’s another article on Twitter etiquette shared by @PivotLearning. There are also other useful resources on social media etiquette here, here, and here, as shared by @erringreg

How would you edit this list? Is it necessary?

What is the purpose of social media?

I’ve begun to question the use of social media. I am finding Twitter to still be a valuable tool for connecting with other educators, but over the past couple of years, I have noticed that the #edchat channel has become more and more cluttered with advertisements and links, and there appears to be less discussion occurring.

When Clifford Stoll suggested that computers had no place in education, he said:

“Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen.”

To be clear, I don’t agree with Clifford Stoll’s assessment of the use of computers in schools. Computers can be powerful tools for education. Are they always used for the most productive purposes? Definitely not, but they have that potential, provided we (as educational technology enthusiasts) provide appropriate support and guidance, and that the teachers using the technology are thoughtful in its use. However, Stoll’s observation that there is an awful lot of noise in the Internet is totally true.

Neil Postman had the following to say of our information age:

But what started out as a liberating stream has turned into a deluge of chaos. If I may take my own country as an example, here is what we are faced with: In America, there are 260,000 billboards; 11,520 newspapers; 11,556 periodicals; 27,000 video outlets for renting tapes; 362 million TV sets; and over 400 million radios. There are 40,000 new book titles published every year (300,000 world-wide) and every day in America 41 million photographs are taken, and just for the record, over 60 billion pieces of advertising junk mail come into our mail boxes every year. Everything from telegraphy and photography in the 19th century to the silicon chip in the twentieth has amplified the din of information, until matters have reached such proportions today that for the average person, information no longer has any relation to the solution of problems.

When we post endless links after each other in Twitter (in what seems to be an effort to increase our own online profile?) and forget the social aspect of social media, we contribute to the noise. I can remember going through a phase myself where I was using scheduled tweets so that I could be posting all day and night, and fortunately, it did not take me too long to see the error of my ways; I too was contributing to the noise of the Internet.

While the regular #edchat discussion was happening today, I noticed that the stream was littered with off-topic links, mostly by well meaning people looking for some exposure for their product, service, or exciting news from their part of the world. These posts are inevitable as we want to share what we are doing, but we also need to remind ourselves of purpose of social media; it’s not about attention, it’s about communication and collaboration.

There is some room for sharing resources and links, but we need to be mindful of what the ratio of noise to conversation is at, and limit ourselves to sharing only that which is most valuable, and ideally share it outside of times people are using a particular hashtag to have a discussion. Obviously a link can extend the conversation, and where possible, we should post links which extend or challenge our thinking. We need to post a few less links, and have more discussion.

Howard Rheingold says, “If we decided that community came first, how would we use our tools differently?” The purpose of social media is to connect to other people. Let’s remember that when we post, please.

 

Profile of a phishing attempt

Phishing attempt

(Click the photo to view it larger.)

 

Last night, I got another one of the many direct messages I receive each day via Twitter telling me that someone has written something horrible about me. Since I was using my older computer, and I have Ubuntu installed on it, I decided to click on the link provided in the direct message, deciding that the risk of accidentally downloading a virus was minimal.

The page took a while to load, almost 3 or 4 seconds, and then this page showed up. I was a bit surprised for a second, and thought, hrmm why am I back at Twitter, and why am I not logged in? I reached for the keyboard and was about to type in my password, when I stopped myself and thought, "I should check the URL first." I’m glad I did.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the URL for this site is not quite right. The word Twitter has an extra i and v in it that shouldn’t be there.

I realized that this was a very clever phishing attempt, and that I had almost fallen for it, even though I knew in advance that the link was very likely to lead to trouble.

My recommendation is to be very suspicious of links you receive via social media and email. If the link seems out of context, or you aren’t expecting someone to be sending you a link, don’t click on it. If you do click on it, DO NOT enter your password or other information on the site. Instead, navigate by yourself to the appropriate website, and enter your login information there.

Please share this information with others so that we can curb the link baiting and phishing going on now through Twitter, email, and other similar services.

More examples:

Another phishing attempt

 

Facebook app phishing

 

Update: If you happen to get caught by one of these phishing attacks, don’t panic. You just need to change your Twitter password. If you cannot access your Twitter account, you should still be able to request a new password be sent to your email here.

Actual engagement

Online Schools is now following you!

 

A Twitter user named "Distance Education" with the user name ‘onlinecourse’ has followed me 25 times. This suggests that they have also unfollowed me at least 24 times. This kind of behaviour I’ve heard called ‘follower-churn.’

I may have accidentally unfollowed someone, and then followed them back. I certainly haven’t been using this to gain followers. I follow people because they are interesting to me, and I manually follow each person I find, after reading through some of their tweets. It’s a bit onerous, but it does tend to ensure that I get a better selection of information from the people I’m following.

Distance Education is currently at 6565 followers. I have roughly the same number.  Who do you think is interested in actual engagement, and who is just looking to pad their numbers? Hint: It’s called social media for a reason.

New #BCed chat: What is the relationship between assessment and learning?

On this coming Monday night, from 7pm to 8pm PST, Mr. Wejr and myself are planning a Twitter discussion about the relationship between assessment and learning. The topic is fairly broad, and should allow for anyone interested in assessment to participate. 

Make sure to use the #BCed hashtags in your tweets if you are participating, and watch out for daylight savings time. We’ll both make sure to announce the chat during the day.

We hope you will join us! If it is your first time joining a Twitter chat, see our BCed wiki page with links to some resources to get you started.

Social media for educators

I’m going to be presenting in a couple of days for some new teachers on social media. I’ve created a presentation (see below), and I’d like some feedback on it. It’s still a work in progress, but then of course, everything is.

 

Am I failing at social media?

I can't unfollow you
(Image credit: docpopular)

When I first got started with Twitter, I set up a filter so that whenever I got a notification from Twitter that someone followed me, it was sent to a special folder in my Gmail inbox.

That folder now has 9581 emails in it. So 9581 times, I’ve gotten a notification that I was just followed by someone. There are a couple of people that follow and unfollow me repeatedly, trying to get me to follow them (while never engaging in me in dialog at all, I might add), but almost all of those notification emails are from new people. 

However, I don’t have 9500 followers, I actually have about 6600 followers.

Some quick subtraction shows that of the 9500 or so people that followed me at some stage during the past three years, nearly 3000 of them have unfollowed me. To put it another way, nearly a third of the people who follow me eventually unfollow me. Are these 3000 lost opportunities to connect with people? 

Why do these people unfollow me?

  • My friend told me that she unfollowed me because I was tweeting too much and overwhelming everyone else in her network.
  • Some of the "people" who unfollowed me were actually spam bots and eventually got blocked by Twitter.
  • Some of them unfollow me because the information I post doesn’t meet their needs.

The key thing is, most of the people who unfollowed me because of their needs, not because of what I’m doing or not doing. It’s easy to take being unfollowed or blocked personally, but I really try hard not to. After all, the whole point of a personal learning network is that it is personal, and that you need to meet your needs.

Eight Videos to Help Teachers Get Started Using Twitter

Here are eight videos to help teachers get started with using Twitter. The idea for these videos is to make them short and to the point and provide specific instructions on how teachers can use Twitter.

How to sign up for Twitter

Verifying your email account with Twitter

Customizing your profile on Twitter

How does Twitter work?

Installing Tweetdeck

Customizing Tweetdeck

Finding people to follow on Twitter

Participating on Twitter

>

You might be a hardcore Twitter user if

You might be a hardcore Twitter user if:

  • you look at 2000 followers as "getting started"
  • you think 5,000 tweets was a long time ago
  • you’ve ever tweeted with people in the same room as you (conferences don’t count)
  • you’ve considered unfollowing your partner because "they don’t post enough useful stuff"
  • you’ve ever spent 24 consecutive hours tweeting
  • you’ve ever tweeted BEFORE calling 911 when witnessing an emergency
  • you use 4 or more different twitter clients on the same computer
  • you’ve tweeted while: parachuting, swimming, skating, spelunking, etc…
  • you recognize when someone is back to Twitter, because "hey, that person is tweeting again!"
  • you miss your Twitter friends after an hour offline
  • you’ve ever attended multiple Tweet-ups in the same week
  • your Twitter withdrawal symptoms, on those rare occasions when they do happen, only take a few minutes to appear
  • you post a question on Twitter and get 500 responses within minutes in 3 different languages
  • you think the definitions on the sidebar of Twitter.com looked better at the top of the column rather than the bottom, and you tweet about your opinion
  • you’ve ever written your own Twitter client because the ones you use "don’t work right."
  • you automatically add hashtags to everything you say in real life (at least in your head)

Please add some more ideas in the comments below and I’ll incorporate them into this list.

Using #edchat to take action

Today’s #edchat on Twitter was about how we can break free of the echo chamber that is #edchat.  We all have great ideas, but how can we turn those great ideas into action?  Our objective is not to stop our great conversations but to also move beyond our conversations into concrete action.

Here’s a great blog post with a summary of the different ideas from the night, as well as the perspective of the author, Matt Guthrie.  I don’t want to repeat what he says, but his post is totally worth reading.  The summary of the entire chat is here.

There was some action taken tonight, which I hope sees enough follow through to be useful. For example, one member of #edchat started a wiki where we can gather together our successes and failures in the area of educational reform.

I started a document to help organize a standard argument we can use to bring down the Internet filters at our schools.  The objective with this document is to share our individual arguments for why Internet filters are ineffective.

Another suggestion from @TeacherReality is to create local teacher "think tanks" which are linked to our national or international teacher organizations.

What other concrete steps toward educational reform have you see that were a result of one of our conversations on #edchat?