"You were snoring. You might want to have that looked at."
Even presenters who take the time to carefully prepare may find class members wandering off to Twitter to find the latest humorous tweet. Perhaps you've experienced a class where attendees type madly on their iPads and notebook computers, stifling laughter as they comment on the viral ultimate dog tease video on YouTube. It may have little to do with the presenter, and everything to do with the overwhelming need to interact with fellow class members.
Lectures are limited in allowing for student interaction, even with vibrant PowerPoint presentations. According to Ignacio Estrada, "If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn." That would require customizing the learning experience to the student rather than following the same models we have used to convey knowledge at conferences and even in classrooms for many years.
It appears that this concept has been around for much longer than computers. Benjamin Franklin allegedly said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." Alas, many solutions may exist to help accomplish this, including interactive clickers and surveys, but these require expensive tools and software that are not readily available to most presenters. Perhaps that is easier said than done, but one solution may achieve enough involvement to make conference presentations truly interactive. Enter: Auto-Tweeting.
Auto-Tweeting works with Macs or PCs. It costs nothing beyond the purchase of software like Microsoft PowerPoint or Keynote for Macs. Here's how it works:
After downloading the necessary drivers and toolbars, you add a little "code" in the notes section of your presentation. Once you turn the auto-tweeting feature "on," a pre-defined tweet is generated when you land on a slide while you are in slideshow mode. The pre-determined tweet is typed between two tags, for example: [twitter] Your tweet goes here. Links work too! [/twitter]
At NGS 2011, I taught a presentation on several little-known FamilySearch products. Rather than waiting for everyone to write down each URL, I generated the URL with a tweet. This allowed class members to follow along on their computers, iPads, or mobile devices. It also permitted me to include important details that were helpful, but that I didn't have time to cover during the presentation. It gave a much more robust learning experience without taking much more preparation time and for no additional expense on my end.
Also, class members without access to Twitter during the class could go back later and locate my notes, URL links, and other details by simply writing down my Twitter username, fsanne. I was able to cover all of the content in my class, plus some extra information. I have already started planning more innovative ways to implement auto-tweeting into future presentations.
Auto-tweeting could add a rich dynamic to conference presentations, work presentations, university and high school courses, and in many other settings. It's a great interactive tool that reaches out to improve teaching by involving class members and taking the learning into social media tools that they may be using on a daily basis.
Auto-tweeting was brought to my attention by revolutionary Fran Jensen, a forward-thinking Community Manager at FamilySearch. There are several online instruction sheets explaining how to set it up, however, the process took much longer than I expected because it was so unclear how to download the necessary files. I have created my own sheet on how to set up auto-tweeting, and will include it in my next post, coming soon to The TechnoGenealogist!