I blogged a few months ago about using Twitter for my homework assignments. Our Course Management System (It’sLearning) makes it a bit cumbersome to post bulletins (too many steps), and I was looking for a way that I could post homework assignments without those excessive number of steps, and I hit upon Twitter as a possible solution.
I didn’t know Twitter at all when I signed on, but early indicators were good. I had about 30 students following me, with I’d say another 20 or so subscribed via cell phone. And certain students told me how helpful the reminders and assignments I sent out via Twitter were. On the other hand, I didn’t realize that those with Twitter accounts did not receive them directly, that they had to go to their Twitter page to see if I had sent anything (among any other Tweets they may have received). I had thought that Twitter sent updates directly to them via phone or email, but that’s only for those that subscribe via phone. So there went the efficiency of the model. If the students had to go get the Tweets, that wasn’t quite as efficient as I wanted it to be.
Our principal recently started a Twitter feed (@PatTutwiler), and I used it to experiment with following someone, which is how I realized that Tweets don’t come directly to followers. He also embedded that feed in the high school’s home page (http://whs.wayland.k12.ma.us). So I figured if I could embed my Twitter feed into my It’sLearning pages, both problems would be solved: students would have a familiar place to go to check their homework (their course page), and I could utilize the ease of composing and sending of Tweets for announcements and assignments. And they can still of course receive it via their cell phone or their Twitter account if they want.
Embedding it in It’sLearning took a bit of tweaking, but here’s how to do it.
1. Go to the Twitter widget page: https://twitter.com/goodies/widgets
2. Click on the ‘My Website’ button beneath the ‘Widgets for…’ header on the left.
3. Either copy the html code as is, or customize it using the buttons at left.
4. In It’sLearning, make a new bulletin.
5. From the Bulletin page, click on the Insert button in the format menu, and choose Web 2.0 Content.
6. In that screen, choose the bottom option, ‘Paste Your Own Code’, and then paste the code copied from Twitter. Click Insert.
7. (Here’s where things get a bit dicey.)
8. When you’re back at the New Bulletin page, it will look like nothing is there.
9. Hit the down arrow, and then the up arrow. You should see a small box / small box of small boxes (the small boxes are the boundary markers of the insert).
10. Resize the box so that it’s a small-ish rectangle, and then Save.
11. If the bulletin appears blank in the Bulletin, you have to go back and resize it until it shows. I didn’t find much of a formula for this; just some trial and error.
12. Enjoy the embedded Twitter feed! (Picture below.)