Twitter: How to Expand Your Conference Experience in 140 Characters

After the controversy this year about the potential of the Social Web and, in particular, its use for learning, we ask how valuable online social networking services, such as “Twitter”, can be at an e-learning conference. Is there a demand for more knowledge exchange and networking than there is already among the over 2000 participants in the numerous social events and sessions? And how meaningful is the content of such messages? OEB invited participants to tweet about their conference experiences on-site. Find out more about the results.

With more than 2500 #oeb2009 Tweets posted on Twitter over and after the three days of the conference, it is clear that OEB’s hashtag attracted much attention and received an overwhelming response from participants on-site, as well as from those who were able to follow the conference proceedings remotely.

Delegates used Twitter to assess presentations in real time and provide a useful service for fellow conference-goers by making suggestions as to which sessions were the most interesting and worth joining. With up to 13 parallel sessions running at any one time, this informal peer-review service proved valuable in helping participants to navigate the conference’s many workshops, sessions and plenaries. During sessions, questions from the audience or from those following participants on Twitter were embedded in on-going discussions, thus opening up the round to an even wider audience and bringing in external ideas. Moreover, the on-the-spot evaluations from participants served as feedback to presenters and organisers, who did not have to wait for evaluation forms to be analysed. A highly sophisticated audience even communicated negative feedback and comments in a respectful manner. Tweets also provided useful tidbits of information, for example, about the time and location of the next coffee break, essential for all those craving caffeine.

With an international crowd hailing from over 90 countries convening for a short time in a busy environment, Twitter helped participants to make the most of the event. Participants were able to connect virtually and arrange face-to-face meetings with like-minded delegates or catch up with old friends. Equally, exhibitors used Twitter as a medium to draw attention to special offers, freebies, demonstrations and mini-events at their stands.

Following OEB on Twitter not only facilitated communication between participants, but also kept them informed about the event itself, providing information about last-minute changes, special events or website updates, such as the photo gallery or the podcast series. Furthermore, participants were able to discover many interesting websites, useful tools, innovative projects and intriguing ideas that were shared on Twitter.

Here, we present a sample of some Tweets that were posted during the conference:

margaperez: #oeb2009 at demonstrations in Potsdam III, integrating rich media (flash) into PDFs. This is really amazing!

anetq: Quote of the day: Elmore: Teaching is not rocket science. It is, in fact, far more complex and demanding work than rocket science #oeb2009

DeboraGallo: #oeb2009 V.Belliveau: the e-learning market is still growing by 2013 there will be billions more spent. Europe is lagging but catching up

stephenm_nz: stunning observation – consider the needs of your students as a starting point, I’m feeling blinded by the obvious #oeb2009

stephenm_nz: Koen DePryck – Cancer game having a positive impact on patient outcomes, greater engagement with treatment meaning better medication #oeb2009

Ufaev: RT @cliveshepherd: #oeb2009 “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education” Albert Einstein

ikawhero: Jing is a great tool for creating quick simple videos. Looked at other more “advanced” tools. Personally I like ScreenFlow (mac) #oeb2009

grahamstanley: RT @nrdu: Punie: 36% of teachers in EC-wide survey has received training in ICT. 80% thinks ICT can enhance creativity in students. #oeb2009

juizee: #oeb2009 #STR06 to be successful you need “Content, community, collaboration & context”

juizee: #oeb2009 #STR06 allows subtitles to be placed on videos
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The long-term value of Twitter for keeping up-to-date with friends, colleagues or acquaintances by leaving and reading short status updates may be questionable, but at a three-day event packed with a multitude of sessions and with over 2000 participants, Twitter can make a conference experience more enriching and worthwhile. It can be used to share anything that can be condensed into 140 characters and provide a platform for knowledge exchange and learning.

See you next year at oeb10.

Tip: Are you still looking for a present or a good read for yourself in Twitter-style? Check out:

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