Sixth Day of #ARU10DoT: Hashtags and Trending

Hashtags (using the hash symbol #) is where Twitter really gets interesting. Today is therefore a little more complex than usual, apologies! The hashtag is, like the @message, a feature that was developed by early users of Twitter, and was taken up and integrated into the platform as it was so useful.

Basically, the hashtag is a form of metadata. A # in front of a word signals that it is a keyword of some sort, tagging that tweet with a hash symbol (hence hash-tag). This means that you can easily search for all other tweets by other people containing that word similarly marked with a hashtag symbol. In fact, you don’t even need to search – if you click on any hashtagged term, it will search for you.

The hashtag for 10 Days of Twitter is, as you’ve guessed, #ARU10DoT. You can therefore search for any tweets containing that hashtag, whether you follow the people using it or not. It’s how I found out who was participating in 10 Days of Twitter on Day 2 when you sent a tweet with the hashtag in, and any tweets you’ve sent since using it.

If you’re a Mac user and wondering where your hashtag key is, you need to press the alt key and the 3 key together to make the # symbol!

A hashtag needs to be a single word, preceded by a # symbol, with no spaces or other characters. It doesn’t need to be a real word – it can be an acronym of some sort, like #ARU10DoT, and it needs to be understood, known or guessed by the people it’s relevant to. It could even be several words run into one (which counts as one word!) such as #ILoveTwitter (it can help to capitalise the individual words to make it easier to read). What it should be above anything else, though, is short, so that it doesn’t use up too many characters!

How do you know what hashtags to use, or to search for? You make them up! If you’re creating a new hashtag, it’s good to do a search first and check if it’s been used before, and if it has been used before, whether you are going to use it in a similar way for similar people. If so, you’re joining a larger, pre-existing conversation! If not, then you might be confusing things, with a hashtag meaning different things to different people. If you’re talking to a limited, known group, as I am here, or as you might at a conference, then the hashtag might be meaningless to outsiders (which is probably fine – people for whom it’s relevant will probably be aware of it already or easily figure it out). If you’re creating a hashtag hoping to start a larger discussion which is open to anyone, then it needs to be self-explanatory and something that someone might very likely search for or guess, like #highered.

You’ll see people using hashtags you might be interested in when scanning your Twitter feed, and if you click on the hashtag, you will find all the other tweets using that hashtag recently.

Hastags in Academia

Hashtags really come in useful in academia in three ways.

An open, extended discussion

Someone might start a discussion about a topic on Twitter which is open to all to contribute, and it is drawn together using a common hashtag. You can also use it to gather responses. #OverlyHonestMethods is an amusing way for scientists to share the real thinking behind their methods, and give the public an insight into how science is done. #TweetMyThesis challenges you to sum up your research in 140 characters!

You might also be interested in other hashtags for education.

Livechat

A live chat is a conversation on Twitter which takes place in real time. A topic, time and a hashtag is agreed by the leaders, and they are joined on the day by people who want to talk about that topic with each other. Livechats can be fast and furious, but a great way to discuss, make new contacts and share experiences. Popular ones which you might be interested in are #PhDchat and #ECRchat, which deal with the experience of being a PhD student or postdoc, and might offer some moral peer support! The Guardian Higher Education Network also hosts livechats on a Friday, on #HElivechat. Search for the hashtags to see what was discussed last time, and join in the next one!

Livetweeting

To livetweet an event means to tweet about it while you’re actually participating in it. Conferences or seminar presentations are often livetweeted. This may be done in an official capacity, with organisers inviting participants to livetweet the papers, giving attendees a pre-agreed ‘official’ hashtag to use, running up to the event, during and after, to find out who’s going to be there, what the papers were about, and any follow-up questions. A good example of this is this Storify of the 2014 SEDA Conference.

A live stream of the tweets at the conference may even be displayed alongside the speaker on a ‘tweetwall’, using a tool such as Hootfeed, such as this feed from the 2015 Learning and Teaching Conference, using the hashtag #LTAConf:

Day 06 - 01 - NEW TWEETWALLIf you’re at a conference, livetweeting it is a great way to connect to other attendees. It’s easier to approach someone when you’ve been ‘talking’ to each other already on Twitter, and if you’re at the conference on your own, you can find people to hang out with

  • By livetweeting the presentations, you alert people who aren’t present that you are there, so they can find out more from you later if they couldn’t attend the conference, or were in a parallel session
  • You can let your followers know who was presenting, and a brief insight into what the papers were about – if it sounds interesting, then your followers can look up publications by those people
  • You can ask questions or for clarification from the presenter, from other conference attendees, or in fact anyone on Twitter, during the sessions. You can also enhance what the presenter is saying, with links to more information and comments on their presentation. Livetweeting is very visible, so do keep comments professional
  • It’s a way to continue conversations, perhaps with the presenter themselves, after the conference has finished
  • People following the livetweeting from elsewhere can still participate in the conference, addressing questions for the speakers via tweets. This is especially effective if the conference is also being livestreamed on the web, with live video and sound
  • Presenters themselves might find the tweets useful feedback, to see how people have responded to their paper

However, livetweeting events must be approached sensitively and professionally. Some presenters may feel that the conference space is a closed group, and feel uncomfortable with their paper being conveyed outside the room to those who aren’t there. They may worry that their ideas and words are being misrepresented in 140 characters. It can also be quite distracting to see people typing away and surfing the internet when you’re presenting, even if it’s relevant! A good start to thinking about livetweeting is this article in the Guardian, which offers useful tips.

If you are livetweeting, then do:

  • check with the organisers and presenters that it’s ok to livetweet
  • alert your followers that you will be livetweeting so they’re not confused!
  • make sure you tweet professionally – be polite and respectful! It will be very visible if you are being unpleasant about a colleague or peer
  • ensure that you reflect the speaker’s words as accurately as you can, and make it very clear, as with livetweets, that you are conveying someone else’s words

Trending

When you hear the phrase ‘trending on Twitter’, it means that there are a lot of people talking about the same thing, using a common hashtag. Trending hashtags are also displayed on the left-hand side of your profile page:

16-12-day-06-02

Note that not all the trending topics have a hashtag.

The term ‘trending’ has become so widespread in society that it is now frequently used as a synonym for popular.

So – look out for hashtags which mark a conversation you’d like to join in, perhaps a livechat, and experiment with livetweeting an event, no matter how small (could even be a TV or radio programme!) If you find any good hashtag conversations, let us know! And remember to tag them with #ARU10DoT!

 

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Eleventh?! Day of #ARU10DoT: what next?

Well, that’s the end of the Ten Days of Twitter! I hope you enjoyed it, and that you are now tweeting confidently and productively if you were a beginner, or that you reviewed your practice and picked up a few hints and tips if you’d tweeted before. It was great to see so many people with experience of Twitter offering help and advice too- a fantastic demonstration of how Twitter can be a powerful learning network for professional development!

If you’re still catching up, don’t worry! The materials will remain online here for you to work through in your own time, and hopefully those who have already completed the course will be around on Twitter to offer support, advice and company!

So where will you go from here? Have you decided that Twitter isn’t for you (and at least now you can make that decision on an informed basis!), or will you keep tweeting and taking part in the discussions and professional communities around Anglia Ruskin, your own subject area, and higher education on Twitter? For myself, I really think it’s a great tool for my own CPD and for sharing practice and learning from others, and it’s been great to make so many new contacts.

If you need more help with using Twitter, the site’s own support pages are a good introduction to the various things it can do. Or if you google your question or search on Youtube for video tutorials, you’ll also find that there are a host of resources that people have made and uploaded to help others. But perhaps best of all, your Twitter network itself is a great place to ask questions and find people who can answer them, as we’ve found on this course!

Evaluation

We’ll shortly be sending round an evaluation survey, to find out what you thought of 10 Days of Twitter. We’d really welcome your feedback, so we can improve the programme and perhaps run future courses like this on other aspects of social media!

 

The Future

Now you’ve learned to use Twitter as part of the #ARU10DoT community, it would be great if we can sustain the conversations and the community around social media and academia at Anglia Ruskin.

  • The @AngliaLTA account for Anglia Learning and Teaching draws together information and conversations around learning, teaching and assessment at Anglia Ruskin. Keep following for information about activities and events on this topic within the University and beyond. Do message us to ask questions, engage in conversations or draw our attention to anything you think we should know about!
  • There is a hashtag, #AngliaLTA, associated with the @AngliaLTA account for tweets about learning, teaching and assessment, and we hope you’ll use it to find useful information and also to tag your own tweets for others to find. You might want to save it as a search or set up a column in your Tweetdeck or Hootsuite platform to keep track of it.
  • We hope to hold regular live Twitterchats using the @angliaLTA account and #AngliaLTA hashtag. A twitterchat is something we’ve not had a go at so far in #ARU10DoT, and it’s a great way to make new contacts, share ideas and discuss in real time. Watch out for more information on this blog in the near future, and get in touch if you have ideas for topics or if you’d like to get involved as a moderator!
  • I’ll still be around on Twitter as @scholastic_rat, of course, tweeting about a wide range of issues to do with Higher Education, including my specific interests in digital and academic literacies and professional development! I look forward to interacting with you in future – do get in touch!

 

Day….Eleven?! of #ARU10DoT

Well, that’s the end of the Ten Days of Twitter! I hope you enjoyed it, and that you are now tweeting confidently and productively if you were a beginner, or that you reviewed your practice and picked up a few hints and tips if you’d tweeted before. It was great to see so many people with experience of Twitter offering help and advice too- a fantastic demonstration of how Twitter can be a powerful learning network for professional development!

If you’re still catching up, don’t worry! The materials will remain online here for you to work through in your own time, and hopefully those who have already completed the course will be around on Twitter to offer support, advice and company!

So where will you go from here? Have you decided that Twitter isn’t for you (and at least now you can make that decision on an informed basis!), or will you keep tweeting and taking part in the discussions and professional communities around Anglia Ruskin, your own subject area, and higher education on Twitter? For myself, I really think it’s a great tool for my own CPD and for sharing practice and learning from others, and it’s been great to make so many new contacts.

If you need more help with using Twitter, the site’s own support pages are a good introduction to the various things it can do. Or if you google your question or search on Youtube for video tutorials, you’ll also find that there are a host of resources that people have made and uploaded to help others. But perhaps best of all, your Twitter network itself is a great place to ask questions and find people who can answer them, as we’ve found on this course!

Evaluation

We’ll shortly be sending round an evaluation survey, to find out what you thought of 10 Days of Twitter. We’d really welcome your feedback, so we can improve the programme and perhaps run future courses like this on other aspects of social media!

 

The Future

Now you’ve learned to use Twitter as part of the #ARU10DoT community, it would be great if we can sustain the conversations and the community around social media and academia at Anglia Ruskin.

  • The @AngliaLTA account for Anglia Learning and Teaching draws together information and conversations around learning, teaching and assessment at Anglia Ruskin. Keep following for information about activities and events on this topic within the University and beyond. Do message us to ask questions, engage in conversations or draw our attention to anything you think we should know about!
  • There is a hashtag, #AngliaLTA, associated with the @AngliaLTA account for tweets about learning, teaching and assessment, and we hope you’ll use it to find useful information and also to tag your own tweets for others to find. You might want to save it as a search or set up a column in your Tweetdeck or Hootsuite platform to keep track of it.
  • We hope to hold regular live Twitterchats using the @angliaLTA account and #angliaLTA hashtag. A twitterchat is something we’ve not had a go at so far in #ARU10DoT, and it’s a great way to make new contacts, share ideas and discuss in real time. Watch out for more information on this blog in the near future, and get in touch if you have ideas for topics or if you’d like to get involved as a moderator!
  • I’ll still be around on Twitter as @scholastic_rat, of course, tweeting about a wide range of issues to do with Higher Education, including my specific interests in digital and academic literacies and professional development! I look forward to interacting with you in future – do get in touch!