Twitter Tricks: A Way to Archive and Curate Tweets

twitterDisclaimer: This article is for people who already use Twitter and are looking for ways to use it better.

Twitter can be an easy way to connect socially with friends and celebrities, but with a bit of planning, it’s a powerful professional tool, too. Identify hastags that relate to your interests or profession, then use the Google Chrome add-on “Twitter Archiver” to create a live Google spreadsheet of all the tweets that use your chosen hashtag.

One clever suggestion about how this add-on could be used in education comes from  Google user Samra Bufkins, MJ, APR

 I teach in a journalism program and require Twitter in all my courses. Each course has a hashtag and students are required to tweet course material daily. I have struggled with documenting student activities, but Twitter Archiver is the perfect tool. I can sort the spreadsheet by student name or by date to track their activity. I can share the sheets with my teaching assistants, too. I also show this tool to my students because many of them will be tracking hashtags as part of their internships, jobs or research.

Link to get the add-on:  Google Chrome Add-on Twitter Archiver

Instructional video:



Watching & Learning: Thought-Provoking Films about Education

Dead Poet’s Society. Teachers. Lean on Me. To Sir With Love. Blackboard Jungle. Stand and Deliver. Mr. Holland’s Opus. Movies such as those have at times shaped American dialogue about education, sometimes even influencing policy as well as inspiring a generation of teachers. However, all of them, even the ones that are ostensibly based on a true story, have one thing in common: they are Hollywood movies, crafted around an essentially myopic, artifical structure; we know that everything will end up so “our hero” will be battle-worn but victorious.

At the Movies: Films Focused on Education Reform is an annotated list of movies–mainly documentaries–about education today. The list, which is found on The George Lucas Foundation’s Edutopia website, is heavily focused on the modern school reform agenda, but the characters and stories told in these movies are compelling. The thirty-three movies on this list could provide many stimulating conversations–and may be an interesting alternative for book discussion groups, parent-teacher organizations or professional developement.

Keeping Your Passwords Secure

password-1241638The article “15 Tips to Better Passwords” by Robert Siciliano, who is a McAfee Consultant and Identity Theft Expert, offers some very helpful tips for creating strong passwords and keeping them secure. Here are a few of the most helpful hints:

  • Using a phrase that you find a customized way to type (for instance, 2B_or_not2B (which is probaby too obvious), is an especially good idea.
  • Using any words or numbers associated with your life (birthday, kids’ names, etc) is a bad idea, but many people do that.
  • Don’t use  “password,” “123456,”  “abcdef” or similar obvious keyboard combinations like “qwerty.”
  • Every place you log in should have its own password. Reusing passwords increases the possibility of getting hacked.
  • Use at least 8 characters, mixing numbers, letters, and symbols. More characters is better.
  • If you need to write down passwords,  never keep them near your computer.
  • Instead of writing down your passwords, create a tip sheet. For instance: “Gmail  Shakespeare” could remind you that your gmail password is 2B_or_not2b (coding it to remind you of symbols and capitalization would be helpful)
  • If possible, avoid logging into sites that require a password (banking sites, email, etc) when you are on an insecure public network, such as an airport. 
  • Don’t share your passwords with people. (If you have a password that needs to be shared–Netflix or something similar–make sure it’s different from all your other passwords. Ideally, you shouldn’t share any passwords, but in the real world, that’s unrealistic.)

There are sites designed to keep your passwords secure. (The password manager that I use, LastPass, works with my Andriod phone as well as on my computer. There’s a free version that is highly rated) The article “5 Best Password Managers” can help guide you if you’re interested in trying this approach to password security.

Organizing Google Drive: Hacking Tags

Google Drive and the apps associated with it can get overwhelming to organize if you’re using your drive frequently. Ideally, tags would be a handy way to keep files quickly accessible.Tags are words that you add to a file as identifiers; for instance, a research paper on The Beatles might be tagged as 60s, music, Beatles, and research. There are two ways to add a file to multiple folders. Which method works for a file may depend on your web browser, so don’t give up if you don’t succeed first try.

For one method, you select a file in Google Drive, but don’t open it. Click Shift-Z, and you’ll get an Add dialogue box. Select the folders you want the file to appear in, click Save, and you’re done. For a more detailed guide, click Here.

The other method lets you add folders while you are working on a document. For more detailed directions and a video explaining the process, click here

Keeping your digital life organized can be a major challenge! Mastering a few tricks like this can help.

Research Has Never Been Easier

Research tools have come a long way thanks to advances in technology. Whether you are writing a research paper or simply compiling notes on a topic you’re interested in, using note taking and citation tools can make the process easier–maybe even enjoyable. For a sample of current tools, click the link at the beginning of this article to see a Pearltrees compilation concerning research and citation.

Rediscovering the Learner Within

seaWhat’s the biggest obstacle to learning tech? Access? Training? Age?

Excuses abound.”I’m too old,” “Kids are born knowing this now; how can I compete?” “It keeps changing all the time,” or the big trump card:  “I don’t have time to deal with all that.” People rarely name the problem that research says is the biggest obstacle: Mindset.

People who want to learn something, who are determined to learn it, make it happen. Students who decide they are mastering a task find tutors, spend extra time working, and keep at it until they succeed. We cheer for the unathletic friend who decides to train for a 5k, or the person who decides to challenge herself to do something out of her previous experience. We know that people who decide to master a skill can at least become more proficient than they were by readjusting their mindset and committing to overcoming obstacles.

The mindset that says, “This is interesting, and I can learn it,” is the way “digital natives” seem to approach technology. They are comfortable reframing themselves as learners, and they trust that they will be able to understand and use whatever evolutions technology goes through.

If that mindset is the crucial component to learning, how can we show our collegues, friends and family the value in learning to use technology? What uses would benefit them enough that they choose to be learners?

And maybe more important for teachers, are we still learners as well as teachers? The idea that children are digital natives ignores the fact that they have had to learn how to use technology–and the nature of the beast insures that they will be relearning it all their lives. Tech skills aren’t static, so a person has never finished learning to use technology.  Perhaps teachers become secure in their knowledge, certain of what they know and the students need to learn. When teachers’ tech skills lag, is it that deep down, they are uncomfortable when they know they are not competent?

The main task, then, is develop the desire to be tech-savvy, to define yourself as a tech-competent-learner, then dive deep to see what mysteries await!

What can happen if people believe they can learn and create? The story of William Kankwamba answers that question.


Interested in reading an academic paper about the importance of mindset? Look for “The Potential Role of Mindsets in Unleashing Employee Engagement” by Lauren A. Keating and Peter A. Heslin in the Human Resource Management Review, 25 (2015) 329-341. It’s in the Infohio/Ebsco database.