One of the greatest innovations Twitter has brought to the tech world, as well as news and popular media, is real-time updates. There is a steady stream of current and breaking news flowing through Twitter that when channelled correctly can tell a captivating and (mostly) accurate story.
This phenomenon of real-time information and opinions is now forming the back-bone of a lot of news services and data streams. Watching any popular news channel we now see and hear breaking tweets that give the latest on current events and breaking news. This same concept is being used in seminars and conferences where attendees can tweet related comments and questions to a projector or big screen for all to see.
With a few useful tools the same idea can be used in the classroom and at school events to promote participation and encourage conversation. Here is how you can use Twitter at your schools next big event:
Step 1 – Create a hashtag
When choosing a hashtag, make sure it is something unique or else you run the risk of having random tweets enter your stream. A good way to make sure the hashtag is unique is to use acronyms and/or incorporate relevant numbers. For example, if I was to create a hashtag for this years Global Learning Summit, I would choose #GLS2011. When creating a hashtag for something that may consist of two or more words its a good idea to use the “CamelCase” format to maintain legibility. The idea is to join words with each words initial letter capitalized. For example if I wanted to create a hashtag for South Australia, I would type out: #SouthAus instead of #southaus. It is also good practice to keep the hashtag as short as practically possible as people need every one of their precious 140 characters.
Once this hashtag is created share it with your audience so they can use it in their tweets.
Step 2 – Choose your tool
There are now a few tools for getting Twitter up on the big screen, but these three are our favourite by far:
Visible Tweets – The most clean and elegant of the tools, Visible tweets is about as simple to use as they come. Simply enter the search term or in our case hashtag and the beautiful twitter stream will begin. Each tweet materializes into the next in fashion that will keep everyone interested. Here is our example.
Wiffiti – A bit more animated and cartoony, Wiffiti displays each tweet as an independant speech bubble. A really great way to show that the stream is a conversation.
Twitterfountain – The most customisable of the three, Twitterfountain lets you choose rotating backgound images as well as the style you wish the tweets to appear. There are some really nice 3D effects so definitely play around with the settings before finalizing. You can also embed the stream if you wanted to sync with the schools event site. Check out our embedded Twitterfountain above.
Step 3 – Launch on big screen
Now it is simply a matter of setting up a projector or television at the event and pluggin. Whatever tool you choose to use, make sure to set to full screen mode to complete the effect.
Caution! – One area to be careful when putting the Twitter feed on show is to remember that Twitter is public network. Anyone can tweet whatever they want with your hashtag and it may very well appear in the stream. Wiffiti provides a level of tweet cencoring so you can set a G or R level rating to filter the stream. Also if using Twitterfountain’s image selection feature, be careful what search term you use as certain keywords may bring up inappropriate images.
There is no doubt that a live feed of events will impress the crowds, so best of luck with bringing your event into the 21st century and make sure to share your experiences with us.
Image courtesy of Flickr, JVCAmerica