Filed Under (conference) by Chris Garbutt on 02-07-2009

I have been doing a lot of learning over the last few months. I always come away from things like conferences and workshops very excited to apply what I’ve learned, but then reality strikes and much of that learning gets buried in my endless piles of paper or stored away in the back of my brain. So, I hope to share some of the highlights from events such as Podcamp, Techknowfile, and CACUSS over the course of a few posts so that some of this at least goes into the public domain. Perhaps something in here will actually be used!

Twitter is one of the things most talked about in the media today. When I was at Podcamp, everyone seemed to be using it. Attendees at sessions were making posts as the speakers shared their information. People elsewhere in the building (or elsewhere in the world, for all I know) would sometimes even respond, and prompt questions for the speaker. Twitter brought the session beyond the four walls within which it was held.

I soon got a twitter account of my own (@cgarbutt), and very slowly began to work with this medium. At some point I synced it with my Facebook account, which allowed me to communicate in both more efficiently. Truth is, most of the responses to my “tweets” are on Facebook, not twitter.

Having seen the phenomenon at Podcamp, I thought I would try it at CACUSS. Seems the student affairs crowd is not so twitter-savvy. I used the hash tag #cacuss2009, and if you look it up, you’ll probably only see my dozen or so posts and maybe one or two others.

This doesn’t surprise me – I see a lot of dismissal of Twitter among colleagues and, even more so, in the wider world. I don’t quite understand why. I can understand why it doesn’t seem relevant to a lot of people, but clearly it’s a key tool for some people.

I have found Twitter to be an amazing resource for learning things I might never have found out. Here are some of the reasons I love it so much:

  • The people I follow are really interesting, and lead me to really interesting information
  • As I mentioned before, I can synch it with my Facebook account, and that way don’t have to manage two different status updates
  • While most of the people who follow me are “Internet entrepreneurs” (ie. people somehow trying to make money off Twitter (?!)), some of them are people who follow other people I’m interested in – it leads not so much to a social network, but a loose network of virtual acquaintances who have similar interests (or are open to interesting new ideas) and can point me to things I may never have found on my own.
  • For UpbeaT, it has been an excellent way to connect across the campus – we follow and are followed by Arts & Science, Engineering, RCAT, UTM, UTM’s Career Centre, the Festival of Excellence, and numerous staff around the university I’ve never actually met!

It’s not a series of updates on what kind of toothpaste you’re using. It’s more like a set of headlines about what kind of reading you’re doing, and what kind of questions you are exploring.

That said, I do wonder how long we’ll have this resource. It doesn’t carry any ads, so it’s not making any money, and there is no way I would pay for the service. Still, while it’s around, I expect I will continue to find it to be a valuable learning resource.