Friday, January 29, 2010

Twitter without Tweeting to Twain Twoday

ASTD Techknowledge presented a great crowdsourcing opportunity. One of the challenges we have as trainers / learning facilitators, is getting the learner engaged. Twitter is not the be all solution to our workforce problems but it does offer great value. The challenge is its value is limited to the willingness of the learner to participate. If you tweet (use twitter), chances are you have had a conversation or overheard someone saying, "Twitter is ridiculous. Why do I care that you're having burnt toast with your runny eggs". Maybe the conversation didn't go exactly like that. But chances are you ran into a skeptic. I am a firm believer that to use Twitter is to understand Twitter (via @mrchomp3rs). So here's the problem. How do we get a gathering to understand the value of Twitter without using Twitter.

I crowdsourced the answer via Twitter at the ASTD Techknowledge Conference. Following is the cumulation of the feedback I received.

Exercise 1 - A River Runs Through It

  • The title sets up @Mary_a_Myers suggestion. She felt the visualization of a river or stream helps set up the chat flow. Messages flow on Twitter as if on the current of a river or stream depending on the topic (brussel sprouts, probably a trickle of a stream; the movie Avatar, the mighty Colorado River) . You get the point.
  • @torriedunlap recommended we use sticky notes on the wall. The visual is starting to come together here. Each tweet would be represented by a sticky page. The size of the page limits the size of the tweet too as @learningputty suggested.
  • @cdmullins, @rickzanotti, @kelticray, and @reward75 all suggested the room be broken into small groups to create the tweet flow.
  • Finally @StevenGilbert gave us a great way to start it off by tweeting to have everyone talk at the same time about something they are passionate about. This would create wonderful chaos. To facilitate this, @cdmullins suggested the option of using scripts and having everyone say their script at the same time. Both are great options.

So now its time to piece it all together for our exercise.

"A River Runs Through It"
A Crowdsourced Exercise demonstrating Twitter.

Equipment needed:
Plenty of stickypads or index cards and tape
8X10 paper (4-6 sheets)

10-15 minutes

  1. Facilitator explains that this exercise is to help you understand what Twitter does.
  2. Have everyone stand up and face the wall (explaining they are talking to an imaginary person)
  3. For 10-15 seconds have them tell the imaginary person anything that is on their mind(or read from a script)
  4. After 10-15 seconds ask the group what they heard if anything and what value that had. Did they happen to hear someone say something interesting? They probably didn't.
  5. Facilitator explains that from the outside, that is what Twitter looks and sounds like. Let's take a look on the inside.
  6. Break the room up into 4 - 6 groups depending on size (divided equally)
  7. Distribute stickpads or tape and index cards
  8. Have everyone create an individual user name
  9. Have everyone create a group name which represents a hash tag. Post the hashtags on a piece of 8X10 paper and tape on the wall near the group
  10. As a group have every member write on the stick pad (No more that 140 characters and you know why), what information they have or any suggestions they have on solving a problem. The facilitator can pick the problem (fixing the economy, getting everyone to buy Lady Gaga's most recent album, improving attendance) Be creative and have fun.
  11. Have everyone post their sticky notes on the wall under their hashtag for their group.
  12. Tell everyone to move throughout the room and read the tweets (No Talking). If they like a tweet or find it useful, have them write it on another sticky note by preceding it with an "RT" (Do I have to explain why?)
  13. Why no talking right? If they want to say something to someone directly, then they use their stickypad and write (in 140 characters, no dah) what they want to say. They need to precede the statement with either a D or a @. If they use a D, the other person puts the tweet in their pocket If they use an @ then the other person puts it on their back. Remember, no one sees a DM but everyone can see an @ message.
  14. After 3-5 minutes, have them take all the RTs and put them under their group hashtag
  15. Give the group time to read any new tweets that came into their group hashtag.
  16. Facilitator then explains that is how Twitter looks and sounds from the inside.
  17. You can add variances like everyone moves clockwise to simulate the flow of a river or add other new personality to this exercise.
  18. To top it off, play the CommonCraft video on Twitter (a suggestion by @michelle300)

This exercise would not have been created had it not been for these amazing tweeple @reward75, @rickzanotti, @kelticray, @Mary_a_Myers, @learningputty, @michelle300, @cdmullins, and @torriedunlap

You can follow me on Twitter @terrencewing or @liquidlearn