Monday, May 03, 2010

A Tweachable Moment?

I'm taking my Media Writing Students to a Seminar on Launching Your Career with Twitter. None of them regularly Tweet (am I supposed to capitalize that?), so we will be in the computer lab the following week signing up for Twitter accounts and Tweeting with the @VistaPrint guy in a Tweet Chat Room (until a couple weeks ago when he suggested this option for meeting with my students, I had no idea this was possible).

But am I buying into our overly plugged-in society too eagerly? I feel like a pusher.... And it's making me second-guess my plan for the fall semester. I'm thinking of requiring all my Media Writing students to sign-up for a Twitter account at the beginning of the semester, so they can practice using the uber short method of marketing communications during their 15-week tenure with me.

My students currently blog. It began a handful of semesters ago as a last class of the term assignment. It soon became a first class assignment, with weekly blog posts and comments to classmates' blogs due regularly.  As a writer, blogging is a great way to practice your skills. As a professor, it's a fabulous tool for tracking the progress of your student writers.

But Tweeting--I'm not so sure that's necessary.

I'm a newbie to the Tweet scene. And like an addict's first taste of a powerful, mind-altering substance, I'm hooked. I Tweeted constant updates at our town's absurdly long and mind-numbingly tedious town meeting. I Tweeted as my husband and I drove to Red River Theatres last week, and later as we left after seeing the incredible GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO. I Tweeted when I was tired of having my floors torn up during our recent home make-over. And I Tweeted when I nearly stepped on a sizable serpent out sunning itself in the woods path where I was running with my dog.

And the responses to my Tweets? Since they are automatically uploaded to Facebook, a surprisingly high number of friends respond to my thoughts and commiserate with me during other harrowing snake-like incidents. 

But in the Twitter world I've been surprised at how one word or phrase woven into my update can spark someone to follow me.  I gained a follower in the "Work from Home" crowd when I happened to mention how much I was enjoying working at home while my car was in the shop. And a local reporter began following me during one of my moments of citizen activism. Meanwhile a do-it-yourself site tagged along after my first update on our home's progress.

So is Tweeting a necessity to furthering your career and/or your business? Or is it a procrastination tool for the terminally chatty?  I'm hoping my friends and colleagues in my Social Community Space can help me find the answer; in fact, you can bet I'll be Tweeting about it.

(Photo above of a chalkboard drawing by Leo for some of the B-Roll footage of the Boys & Girls Video we've been working on.)


Deklun Rand said...

I'm I going to be the first to mention the word?

Dana said...

Oy. Anyone mentions the WORD I accidentally uttered yesterday...I think it might be grounds for an automatic Administrative Failure. What happens in Media Writing STAYS in Media Writing. Got it?! ;)

Kris said...

I feel like tweeting could be helpful for business owners... but that's it. I mean, for somebody like me who just goes to school and works a relatively uninteresting job I can use Facebook for basically the same purposes.

The lecture yesterday was surprising though. Even though I'm still not sold on Twitter I find it a lot more useful than I once did.

Morgan said...

I think that tweeting in future classes could be fun, but not really beneficial to the students unless they own a business. Being a student of your current media writing class I think that sticking with blogging would be better. It was fun, we can be expressive in as many characters as we wanted and it reaches people the same way that twitter does.

twistedrichard said...

Have them tweet next semester. Introduce them to the current technology and if they choose to embrace it, fine. If not, fine.

Amanda said...

I agree with Kris and Morgan. The lecture we saw convinced me on the importance of maintaining a Twitter account as a business professional, but I think requiring students to have one is unnecessary. It would be much easier than the weekly blogs though, only 140 characters! :)

Lindsay said...

I think from a business aspect, twitter is a great concept. Apart from that though,I think tweeting what you are eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all your snacks between meals is a serious waste of time. Until I own a business I do not see the point in having a twitter account.

Adam Meran said...

I have to agree with most of the crew here. I was pleasantly surprised to learn what kind of interesting features Twitter has for it's users. At the same time, being a simple student i don't really need a Twitter account if I already have a Facebook page. Personally i wouldn't mind learning to funnel my rants. (as you can see this one is already getting kind of long) but i think for a class it makes more sense to stick to blogging. Chanks for reading!

p.s. your sons drawing is rad. does he have any up online i can look at?

Heather said...

I wish I was more in to the twitter scene, it just doesn't seem necessary for me at this point in my life. :(

Patrick Witherell said...

There are a lot of great uses for Twitter and I think the farther we move along the more crucial it will be to use in any instance. Might have to try it out some more and see what all the fuss is about.