Thursday, February 24

Use Twitter #Hashtags to Amplify Your Learning!


Today, I don't spend much learning time following people or particular lists on Twitter, but I do spend time following, reflecting and interacting with relevant learning hashtag conversations (streams) taking place around the world.

If you are confused about what Twitter hashtags are, you have come to the right place to understand the power and possibilities that these learning conversations can do to amplify your learning!



WHAT ARE HASHTAGS?
"The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages" - Source

For example, #edchat is a well-known and influential hashtag used by many to discuss educational or learning related issues on Twitter. By following (saving) this hashtag you will be able to see all the tweets shared on Twitter including the #edchat hashtag.

Also, please keep in mind that Twitter hashtags can occur anywhere in the tweet, and that they are not case sensitive, as shown in the example below (#cck11 or #CCK11 = No difference):

Today, Twitter hashtags are widely used for conferences, events, courses, topics, trends, etc. enabling people to easily follow and participate via hashtag learning streams relevant to them.



WHERE DO I FIND JUICY HASHTAGS?
Actually, if you are looking for global (or country) trends you can for starters discover some on your Twitter homepage, which will display the top 10 trends at that particular moment.


If you are looking for (#hashtag) trends, then tools like What the Trend?, Twitterfall and Tagalus should be useful.

But then again, I give two hoops what 'Lady Gaga' and 'The Bebiers' tweets, and instead I am looking for educational and learning streams (hashtags), which will most likely never appear on my Twitter homepage. Of course, you could start using Twitter Search, but that is perhaps not the best place to start (unless you know what you are looking for).


Actually, sometimes you can discover enriching hashtags by accident, when reading tweets from people you follow. However, the fastest way (to me) is to Google up educational hashtags and find a gold mine like this one: Educational Hash Tags (Cybrary Man)

Here some interesting learning hashtags that you might want to follow (Save):



HOW DO I FOLLOW (SAVE) A HASHTAG?

There are several ways, but if you want to simply follow (save) a juicy hashtag from Twitter itself, you can first:
  1. Copy/Paste the hashtag into Twitter Search (Or simply click the hashtag on your Twitter page) and then Search.
  2. Then click 'Save this Search'
  3. Click 'Home'
  4. Select the hashtag from your 'Searches'... Done!

However, many today hardly spend time on the Twitter homepage itself, and prefer using their mobile devices and tools like TweetDeck to check Twitter updates regularly (every 3o seconds!).

In addition, some prefer real-time updates on tweets and hashtags (a flowing learning stream), and tools like Monitter, TweetGrid and TweetChat are awesome for exactly that. For example, you might want real-time Twitter updates during an event, or learning session on a big screen (or projector), meaning you can reflect and discuss on the spot issues streaming down the screen (no refreshing needed!).


Besides real-time updates, some might prefer getting daily updates from the hashtag(s) they are following in the form of a sizzling self-organized online newspaper. paper.li could do that without you basically doing anything, except for signing up and feeding it your hashtag (e.g. #CCK11 Daily). Really cool!


If you find your Twitter homepage messy for having conversations, you could try Twitoaster, which threads and archives your conversations in real time. This tool could help you improve the way you communicate with your students or connections (followers).


http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_337GUHQH0FY/TK0oDAPxeMI/AAAAAAAACA8/oatZSUHp_Fk/s1600/Jane+Bozarth.JPG




HOW DO I CREATE A HASHTAG?

That is so easy! Just remember to keep it unique, short and simple, because we only have 140 characters to make a point, and we certainly don't want the hashtag itself to take up too many characters.

Also, try to avoid commonly and widely used terms like '#elearning', because then you're learning stream could be diluted and overwhelmed with too many non-related tweets. For example, the 'Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011' hashtag is shortened to #CCK11.

Finally, once you have created your unique, short and simple hashtag you need to promote it to your target audience, and here are a couple of articles on how that can be done:


Now, that you know how to find, follow and create Twitter hashtags, you have a powerful...I shall say no more!

Other excellent resources that explore Twitter hashtags:

WOW! That wasn't so difficult, was it? :)

11 comments:

A.A. Karim said...

Zaid, another juicy and useful post. Plentiful of stuff on your website. I'm sure I can learn a lot more. Ahh...need to find time.

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

No rush :)

Take your time and have fun learning, reflecting and doing!

ZaidLearn has no formal assessment :)

Time2Act said...

excellent and on time....I was about to search for this precious info. The main problem for me in order to adopt Twitter in my style is that it is not well suppported in my region... I mean Arabic, sms integration...
But you know Zaid, Twitter (+ FB) was the hero of our Egyptian revolution. That's why I changed my mind and started to train myself in ELI conference.
Thanks once again.

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Let's use Twitter and Facebook for learning, like others have used it for a revolution... Both toold can also be great for communicating, collaborating and learning, and I believe you are seriously discovering this now :)

Great :)

Nor Fadzleen said...

Thanks for sharing. I love using FB to support collaborative learning (my students respond better on FB compared to typical written work, go figure) Will give this a try!

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Nor Fadzleen,

Please do and share with the world your experiences and findings :)

Good luck!

Jeffrey Keefer said...

This is a very helpful article for understanding the how's and why's about hash tags. I find that much of my interest in Twitter recently has been based on using these, and while I only follow a few of them, particularly #phdchat, I find them valuable for my own learning.

fatima said...

Great Article! Thanks Zaid.
One question though when using Twitter for a course would you suggets a hashtag for the course or create a profile for the course code? Doing a masters research report and will need to contain the tweets to analyse critical thinking but don't wanto to limit or constrain the discussion in anyway.Do you think it matters i.e hashtag or @ for course code?

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Thanks Fatima for the feedback :)

Create a hashtag for the course... for example #BIB2011

Just make sure it is short, so it doesn't eat up the 140 characters allowed :)

It is easier to keep track of your own tweets using a @course profile, but overall #hashtags are greater for conversations (in my opinion as you can so easily create one or discontinue), and that is what you want in dynamic learning environments.

Just remember to use some of the tools mentioned in the article to manage the conversation, including backing it up.

Good luck on your research & have a great weekend :)

Salams Zaid

Faizal Rahman said...

Hi Zaid, I am writing a paper on this now. Do you have example of Course code being using as hashtag and actively been use. Thanks.

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Faizal Rahman,

Please post your Twitter id...then we can communicate :)

Warm regards,

Zaid