That is definitely not a real word. Anyway, in this post I am going to share with you the online service HootCourse.com. This uses Twitter as a means to create a back channel chat, but it has some nice features that expand it beyond just the normal chat room experience. Basically you use your Twitter or Facebook account to log into HootCourse and it will create a Twitter feed specifically for you. Not sure what that is? Then click on past the break to get all the educationalized information.
Signing up and creating a class
With HootCourse.com you sign in with your Twitter account or your Facebook account. This makes setup pretty quick.
Once in, look to the right hand side and you can create a class. You have to title the course, give it a searchable hashtag
- The Course Name is well . . . the course name.
- The Twitter hashtag is a way that other people can search and find what is happening on the course. Keep it as short as you can!
- Description is just that a description of the course itself.
- You can also determine if your course is private or public by clicking on URL-protected.
Once that is done you have some options. You can start tweeting away! Some notes about Twitter. You only have 140 characters/tweet (or message). That is characters, not words, so watch the counter. HootCourse will automatically add the #hashtag automatically so you will lose those characters to start.
All of your tweets from the class will show up under this box.
It shows up in real time, so as soon as someone posts something, it will enter the Twitter stream and show up. Notice the ?s, Links, Hoots tab at the top there? If you click on the ?s tab, that will show you all the questions that had been asked in the course. If you click on the Links tab, it will show you all the hyperlinks that have been included in the stream. If you click on the Hoots tab, it will show you the stream without your posts. So it can help keep everything more organized. If you’ve ever used Twitter before, then you realize that it can get pretty overwhelming at times. These tabs are a nice addition.
Inviting people to your course
Now that you’re signed up, created a class, and have a basic understanding of posting, it is time to invite people to the course and get your collaboration on. To get students or other people in your class click on Invite (on the right hand side). If your course is public or private and the url attached with it. You e-mail the URL to the people you want to invite and they click on it and use their Facebook or Twitter account to log in and voila! They are added to the class.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind. If you are using your regular Twitter account, your other posts will not show up in the course. They will only show up if they have the correct #hashtag. In other words, if you are expressing your undying love for Justin Bieber, the members of the class will not see the post unless you had the #hashtag. If someone is not invited to the class, but posts with your #hashtag, it will NOT show up in your class. This is handy, which helps keep unwanted tweets from cluttering the course feed.
Sometimes 140 characters just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes, you need more room to express yourself. Unfortunately, Twitter cannot hold anything over 140 characters. It just cuts off the tweet, but the peeps at HootCourse have thought about that (yeah, that was a pun). They can let you link the HootCourse to a blog (WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Blogger.com, and Posterous.com) and you can post it there. So here’s how you do that. Click on Essay from your Message box area.
Then a new window will open up. HootCourse will ask you to chose which blogging platform you use, your username and password of that blog, and it will link the essay to the blog and actually post it for you!
Once the two services have been linked it will take you back to your HootCourse, but you will not only have a place for your tweets, but a pretty lengthy canvas with which you can post the day away. Just a note-you MUST tweet something. It will become the title for the proper blog post.
Once you post it will show up like this in the tweet feed.
Even if you sign in with your Facebook account, you still only have 140 characters. It will post your tweets to your wall as well as Twitter, but when other people comment it will not go to your Facebook-you will need to be on HootCourse to see them. You can also embed a live feed of your HootCourse on your blog (wordpress.com is not supported for this feature). So you can quickly see what is happening on your course. If this is for you then set up and start to Twitter your way to the hearts and minds of your students or colleagues. If you’re on the fence, Omar and I will give our takes on HootCourse later this week.
As always, leave your two cents in the comment area. We love them, there comments.