My Tweets Do Not Reflect the Views of My Employer

How many times have you looked at a person’s Twitter profile and read this?

They may not, but once thrown on your wall, they can stick.

Writing on the internet is like writing with permanent marker.

It takes the events of this past week to remind us of this.

It’s a heck of a way to get a Wikipedia entry or to trend on Twitter.

At times, it seems like there’s a competition to outshock each other.

Is that what it takes to get attention these days?

You may well be speaking on behalf of yourself and not your employer but it may not matter in the long run.

Digital image, digital footprint, digital future … we’ve all read about this.  Some have paid attention; some have not.

I’ve seen the debate – “Should I have a personal profile and a professional profile?”  Maybe, but just remember that at the end of the day, you are you.  Disclaimer or not.

Thanks to Miguel Guhlin for sharing this story.  Does common sense need to be legislated?


Watching the World Tweet

There are some things that I can just sit there and watch for hours on end.  One such thing is Ministry of Transportation cameras.  When you realize that every car caught on camera has a story about why they’re there, what they’re doing, how quickly they’re moving, etc., it is just fascinating.

As I write this blog post, I’m taking a peek at the construction zone on the 401 near Highway 3.  There’s always something to see if you look up and down the construction of the Herb Gray Parkway.  So much traffic, and yet, to each person, what they’re doing is so important.

Tweetping lets you do the same thing with Twitter.

You can absolutely sit back and watch the world tweet.

The statistics are shown real time and updates in front of your eyes.  Watch the number of message just stream by according to continent.  Once you get the concept and watch the volume, take a look near the bottom.  You’ll see reference to the most recent posts that include hashtags.  That even further extends the interest.  You’re looking at humanity talking.  Isn’t it humbling?

There’s a little tab on the screen that lets you hide/reveal the statistics.

You may want to drop the statistics and just let Tweetping paint the world with Twitter messages for you.  Again, it’s all live.  What a great (and free) source of raw data to discuss internet use, developing nations, etc.

Check out Tweetping.  You may just get as hooked on it as I am.

A List for Learning

Any day now, there are many educators that will be starting Additional Qualification courses over the summer.  There are a couple of things that will be certain to happen during these courses.

  • Some sort of goofy ice-breaking, get-to-know-ya activity.  This activity will definitely take up at least the first hour of any course.  They are a necessity since you’ll be learning with others in a concentrated period of time;
  • What’s your Twitter handle?  Any AQ leader worth their muster will be gathering these names and/or encouraging those who are not online learning to do so.  Then, there’s the mandatory “Hello World” Twitter message followed by “Is this thing on?” and then often little more.

The challenge with additional qualification courses lies in generating value after the course has ended.  This value comes from professional relationships or professional conversations after the last day.  Having taken a large number of these courses, I was bad with that.  At the time, working in groups was a necessary activity since the presentations that you did in for class required group work.  But, once the class was over, that was it.  We departed; often never to see each other again.  I was an out of towner, taking the courses in London and Toronto so it wasn’t even like I could car pool with a co-learner.  When it was over, it was over.

I was recently reminded of this by @pmcash.  We took the Data Processing Specialist course at the University of Western Ontario more years ago than either of us will admit.  I just received a message from Peter that he had found an assignment of mine.


I hope that he hangs on to it so that I can take a look at it.  It will affirm how far we’ve come!  If you know Peter, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he was about the only person I can remember from those courses.  As computer science teachers, our paths have crossed a few times over the years but the rest of the class – sadly, I don’t remember.

Back to the current AQ course.  Your instructor will have asked for your Twitter ID.  For some, that will be as far as it goes.  Why don’t you take it further?

Follow everyone in your class.  For the duration of the course, use that as a way to share resources and enhance your learning.  How do you keep track?  Put them into a Twitter List.  I’ve mentioned the concept of a Twitter List before.  Particularly if you’re a regular Twitter user, it’s the best way to keep track of the conversation.  Put them all into a list and then follow the postings to the list in your Twitter browser.  What a great way to share the learning (and the load) of your class!  Hopefully, all will find it so useful that the sharing continues after the course.

It’s also an immediate way to monitor any back channel that you’ve got going during those hours of presentations that typically form the core of these courses.  Of course, your AQ course supports BYOD and connectivity and encourages a back channel – right?

But the learning and connections shouldn’t stop there.  There will come a time when the course ends and summer enjoyment ramps up.  Keep the list alive.  If your learning is good enough for the AQ course, it should be even better when September returns and you’re all back in your classrooms – maybe even teaching that subject or that grade level for the first time.  Share your resources and ideas – don’t do what Peter and I did and leave it until years later, if at all.  To our defence, we weren’t preparing to be 21st Century teachers!  The concept wasn’t even conceived of at the time.  It would be completely different if we were in Prof. Walsh’s class now.

But you are!  The greatest gift and learning that you may walk away with from your course is your own Instant Personal Learning Network that extends far beyond your few weeks in the summer.

Successful Blogging

I read a great “help blog post” yesterday titled “10 Maxims of Successful Blogging“.  I really enjoy reading posts of this type and I’ll often use them as inspiration to do a little reflection on my own habits and how I measure up.  So, here goes…

1. We live in an increasingly information-dense world. The only way to stand out is to dig down deep and bring your own story to the world. Your point of differentiation is you. You have no competitors.  Write a blog post that only you could write.

This made me smile.  As I mentioned recently to someone, nobody could write like this.  They would probably be much more literate.  The “me” that writes this is a rural and proud of it, computer science teacher and now hobbiest, district computer consultant, photographer wanna be, always reading and would like to think always learning.

2. The biggest challenge to blogging isn’t having the time, the ideas, or the resources to do it. It’s having the courage to do it. It takes guts to put yourself out there in front of the world. You can’t learn that. You just have to do it.

I totally agree with this.  I have no doubts that my thoughts and rants may not be universally accepted but they do reflect my experiences and thoughts at the time.  If I’m wrong, convince me.  I’ve always felt that sharing and refining your thoughts is helpful to personal growth.  I’ve worked with people who know they’re always right and sometimes feel sorry when they just keep on digging.

3. Stick to a theme. You don’t want to confuse your readers. It’s possible to use your other interests to tell your story but pick to a theme and build an audience around it.

I’m bad with this.  Just take a skim through my posts and you’ll find education, technology, formula 1, family, teaching, and goodness knows what else.  I always thought that the unpredictable blogger was an interesting one.  I’m wrong by this maxim.

4. There is no greater gift than when somebody takes their precious time to leave a comment on your blog. Never take that for granted. Love on your readers.

I’m wholeheartedly behind this.  I watch the statistics as they come though and really appreciate it when you drop a comment here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.  My biggest challenge is deciding whether it’s important to comment on each one.  I’ve always felt that the original post should contain the major content and just enjoy the way that it creates interaction after it goes live.

5. Be positive.  Lift people up. Negative blog posts are like seeing a car wreck. You might peek out of curiosity once in awhile but you certainly don’t want to see that every day.

I would like to think that I’m positive.  I hate going by blogs where there is venom spewed from beginning to end.  You just know that it’s not going to lead to productive conversation.  If someone posts negatively, you’re going to have a challenge making them see the positive side.  The flip side is a little easier.

6. Even the most talented and popular people in the world get criticized. If you attract criticism, you’re provoking thought … you’re doing job. Stay centered. Overall, the people in the blogosphere are very kind and supportive.  If you do good work, you will be rewarded.

I’ll vouch for this.  The readers that drop by here ARE kind and supportive.  And, when we actually get to meet, those awkward first steps of acquaintance are already breached.  You just know so much about each other already.

7. If you consistently create content that is RITE — Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining — you will be creating shareable, conversational blog posts. Of these, I believe the most important over time is “interesting.”  Boring is death to a blog.

I think this is why I mix up the topics of my blog.  I’m always trying to write “interesting”.

8. The most important part of the blog post is the headline. As people scan headlines, it better be a great one that gets attention or nobody will even make it to your first sentence. The second most important part is the first sentence. Don’t waste people’s time. Tell them why they are there with you today.

I remember that from Grade 5, I think.  You can’t beat a good title, open with a strong sentence, do you writing, and then wrap it up with a conclusion.  If memory serves me correctly, good writing was described as a sandwich with a top, a bottom, and the filling.

9. The most effective way to build community is to become part of other communities. You have to give to get. Find a few other like-minded bloggers who are just starting out and support each other through sharing and comments. You have to actively work to build community, just as you work actively to build content. Spend some time building your network.

Absolutely.  We have a great network of educators that interact daily on Twitter.  I like to support the Ontario Educational Blogger by giving shout outs on Fridays.

10. The hardest part of blogging is beginning. Think about any difficult work task you have faced. It may have seemed daunting at first but over time you built a competency and it becomes easier. Blogging is no different. You just have to start and commit to it and it will become easier (and more fun) over time!

My most difficult part of blogging was to find the right platform.  At the time that I started blogging, I tried to toe the party line and use the platform that my employer provides.  I then moved and had to decide on Tumblr, Posterous, Blogger, or WordPress.  In actual fact, I have blogs on each of the platforms.  Because you’re here and sticking with me, you’ll know that I settled on WordPress as my main platform.

Well, that was therapeutic!  Thanks, Mark Schaefer for the original post for the inspiration for this post.

I’ll turn it over to you, reader.  Do you agree with my self-assessment?  I’ve got a thick skin.  Let me know your thoughts.

If you’re blogging with your students, do you see this as an activity for the students to reflect on their blogging experiences?

Monitor Your Brand

I know that there is a great deal of concern about the future of Google’s Alert service.  You know, it’s the service that sends you an email with the references to any set of criteria that you may choose to set.  I used to use it to get a summary of the times that “@dougpete” or mentions to this blog hit the web.  If you’re reading the web, there are a number of suggested alternatives to Google’s service that are being promoted.

One of the things that is so impressive about search engines is their ability to scour information and find where content just might pop up.  Sometimes, it’s from the darnedest places.

I realized a while ago that the significant area that I wanted to monitor was Twitter itself.  It’s here that the significant mentions happen.  So, I figured, why not put Twitter’s search engine to good use.  Unlike other services that will send you a message daily with your mentions, Twitter search does things right now – the moment that it happens.

Since Hootsuite is my current favourite Twitter management console, it’s a snap.  I decided to set up some monitoring right there.

To consolidate things, I set a new tab and called it “Brand”.

Next – what am I monitoring?  Of course, my Twitter ID.  Over the time that I’ve used Twitter, I’ve noticed that people will make reference to me as both “@dougpete” and “dougpete”.  So, if I search for the lowest common …

I’ll catch both instances.  The results appear the moment Hootsuite picks them up.  Save the stream and it becomes a permanent entry within that tab.

I also want to monitor references to this blog so I’ll set up another customized search for “”.  Sure, the first search for “dougpete” finds the reference but I’d like the blog references separated into a column by themselves.  Creating it is just as easy.

I also am monitoring my wiki and a couple of other services like my Diigo account.  Quite frankly, they don’t generate nearly the action as these two and I may just drop them.

And there you have it.  Instant monitoring!

Instead of another service with daily updates or doing a number of different searches, I just set them once and they do their thing.  A quick click on the tab shows me the latest.

Now, in the big scheme of things, my two little searches probably don’t amount to a hill of beans.  But, if I was monitoring an entire school or a number of events or a number of entities, the concept of a number of searches within a tab makes so much sense.

If you’re using a Twitter dashboard that allows for saved searches like Hootsuite, why not give it a shot this fine Sunday morning.  Your ears might start burning when you read what people are saying!  More importantly, this will give you the ability to see the entire package and engage with anyone who is talking about you.  And, isn’t that the point of Twitter?