This morning I upgraded TweetDeck for the mac. There are a gazillion different twitter readers out there…I started using this one when Twhirl died on me. TweetDeck allows you to not only manage multiple accounts…which I seem to have (personal, LLU, and soon… my class)…it also allows you to search for key words or just plain ole words and see where they pop up in the public tweets around the world.
A bit of background: Twitter seems to show up in the conventional media a fair amount…almost always in a negative light. The Chronicle of Higher Ed is notorious for this. It even coined a new term: Twecklers… people who use Twitter to “heckle” keynote speakers at conferences. Which is what they report happened at this presentation. Tweckling can happen to the best of us, even social media experts like danah boyd. She tells the story of her “tweckling” here.
The Twittersphere can be an amazingly supportive place, full of ideas, tips, suggestions, encouragement, even friendship. It’s all about whom you follow, whom you let follow you, the conversations that are being created and, yes, wait for it…the context.
Twitter can also be a space, when people feel frustrated, helpless, alone, angry, where those feelings can lash out and slap the stream and assault the people who read it. Much like passing notes in class, tweets can be catty, and sometimes totally off topic and distracting (as was the case with the tweets that derailed danah boyd’s preso). But hidden deep down under the layers of snark, there is a truth in there, a perspective that, while we might not share it, while we might not want to see it, needs to be heard.
So back to Tweetdeck.
Since I could search for terms, for giggles I thought I would search for the term “language lab” and see what might come up. Oh my. Here is what I found twecklers are saying about using the “language lab” in the Twittersphere (could be my lab, could be yours, who knows….)
The Language Lab as The Place Where There Are Rules to Be Ignored :
The Language Lab as the place where I have to sit and log hours….endless hours….doing seemingly mindless things…for credit:
The Language Lab. Fail:
Curiously the only non-negative tweets I could find (aside from “I’m in the Language Lab, come and find me”) was a tweet mentioning this song. And yet, the lyrics, or the lack thereof? is kind of off-putting.
So what are the Twecklers telling us? What are they saying about the way we ask our students to use technology in language courses? What are we saying to our students about what is important, necessary, vital in order to learn a language in an academic setting? What are they saying about how they would rather be spending their time? What are these tweets telling us about how the intersection of teaching, technology and learning is being received? And given the current economic climate of budget cuts and needed consolidation of resources (not to mention the halting of new projects altogether), what should we be hearing from these tweets to protect our jobs, our centers, our resources?
I have some thoughts. But I would rather hear yours. Discuss.