Duh! What time is it with you?

I never cease to be amused at how parochial we all are at times despite our global connectedness. For example when I began doing Edublogs webinars about a year ago I gave the times (and stated that this was the case) in Western Australian (WA) local time when Tweeting about the sessions. However great chaos ensued for several reasons:

1. Western Australia was at the time undergoing an experiment in operating daylight saving time in summer (not having used this in previous years)

2. The rest of Australia and the rest of the world seemed unaware of this. Indeed why should they have been aware? After all in the great global scheme of things Western Australia equates to “the lesser fashionable end of the Western spiral arm” in galactic terms. Thanks to Douglas Adams in his “Hitch Hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy” for that wonderful phrase!

3. Dates of change to and from daylight saving are not the same globally

4.  For those countries (or in the case of Australia individual states) that do adopt daylight saving the Northern Hemisphere changes its clocks in one direction at around the same date as the Southern Hemisphere changes in the opposite direction.

Now I had just not thought through the implications of synchronous global attendance at anything. No excuse really, despite being an ex-European with a very strong awareness of global timezones as a result of regular Skype calls to the UK, I was thinking and acting parochially! Hopefully I now think and act more globally I have a World Clock gadget on my iGoogle page with a scatter of world times.


These are enough to give me some idea of the approximate time anywhere because they are distributed around the globe and anywhere else will be similar to one of them or between two of them.

The Edublogs Free Live Web Events page uses West Australian time in its calendar. However there is a World Clock Meeting planner link  to enable people convert for their own timezone. Alternatively there is also information on how to add the Edublogs calendar to your own Google calendar where the events will then show in your own local time.

After some thought I decided that as there was already a time standard in existence  that was what I should use in Tweets or other references outside the Edublogs calendar. So I began using Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)  although also including the abbreviation for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). GMT still appears to be more widely known, and using UTC can give rise to further confusion about the date.

When I am Tweeting about sessions in the preceding few hours I usually clarify by adding a “countdown” for example “starts in 1 hr” however I find this can also be fraught with problems when some of my very busy PLN re-tweet in a hurry much closer to the session, don’t notice the time of the original Tweet and so don’t update the “countdown” time.

What started this whole reflection about timezones and our global vs parochial attitudes was an opinion from someone in my PLN that I should be using USA Eastern Time for the times of the Edublogs sessions. The reason given was that more people would then attend the sessions. My thought was “Hmm! Possibly more from that particular timezone. However in adopting and largely sticking to the use of GMT/UTC I am trying to be consistent and much more importantly from my point of view to think globally and use an internationally recognised timezone standard so that we are not seen to be favouring one timezone above others. From very early on we have had global participation in our sessions and my main objective is to keep the sessions global because in my opinion the exchange of knowledge and cross-pollination of ideas that happens when we have participants from around the world is the most exciting thing about our sessions. The recent change of session time to two hours earlier (2300 GMT) has meant increased European participation (midnight is a more realistic option for most people than 2am). In my opinion this improves the balance of participation and thus leads to the expression of a wider diversity of ideas and opinions.

Edublogs Webinar 19th/20th Nov

Our Edublogs webinar this week was an action packed session. Guest presenter Shelly Terrell joined us to give a heads up on Tweetdeck with a session entitled “Tweetdeck: Get Organized on Twitter”  As often occurs in our webinars there was a very high level of interaction and participation throughout in the text chat.

As all good educators do Shelly began the session with questions and a poll to find out where we were coming from with respect to Twitter and Tweetdeck and also asked what we wanted to learn from the session.

Next came a great demo (using application share) running through most of the rest of the sesion and enabling Shelly to share and show us  some of the latest TweetDeck features including: creating columns, placing your followers into groups, adding new followers quickly, and following hashtag discussions!

This was fantastic – Elluminate application share coped quite well with the constant refreshing that happens in Tweetdeck. Our Tweets to Shelly during the session appeared to eveyone on Shelly’s TweetDeck through the application share. Shelly also showed us how to change Tweetdeck’s refresh rate to reduce the number of refreshes.

To round off Shelly gave us a quick test, just to make sure we had all been paying attention and to reinforce our learning 🙂

This was a great session much enjoyed by all! Thanks again to Shelly for giving us a great insight into the possibilites of Tweetdeck for managing our Twitter streams more effectively.

Did you know? Elluminate – who did that?

Elluminate has a whole range of features that many people are not really aware of. So I thought maybe a series of short posts on some of these features might be useful to others. Here goes with the first one!

Did you know?

If you are a moderator/facilitator you can see who makes which contributions to the whiteboard. This is very useful for a number of reasons – the importance of these will vary depending on your participants:

  • You can ask contributors by name to expand or elaborate on their contribution
  • Allows you to attribute contributions (useful if posting about a session later)
  • Enables you to help and encourage those who are not participating
  • You can evaluate individual contributions for assessment purposes
  • Lets you target individual help to anyone who is using an inappropriate whiteboard tool for a purpose
  • Allows monitoring and management of inappropriate participant use of whiteboard eg language

Some of the above are particularly useful for me in that our assessment is competency based and that I work with a number of school age students identified as Youth at Risk. So if a student is making innapropriate comments on the whiteboard or indulging in bullying I can protect others by removing the ability of that student to write on the whiteboard


To see who has written what:

1. Go to Tools

2. Mouse down to Whiteboard

3. Select Explore Objects

The object list appears in order with most recent change/edit last, in a new resizable, movable window that you can position anywhere on your screen including outside the Elluminate window.

Have fun! Surprise your participants when you know by magic “who did that?”

Twitter – a Clean Nest?

Twitter – a Clean Nest?

The Edublogs Online PD session last week (5/11/09) was about Twitter. I have over the last few months  noticed waves of spam, phishing and account hacking suffered by members of my PLN on Twitter. I also became aware (when @lasic tweeted and I think also blogged – although I can’t find it – about this a few months ago) that many people were unsure of what they could do to limit the impact when they or someone in their Twitter stream was attacked.


So looking at this seemed to be something that would be useful to quite a lot of people, including both those who have been Tweeting for some time and those fairly new to Twitter. It was a great session with a huge and very productive parallel channel in the text chat as well as the presentation and related interactions.

Managing Followers

The session started with a look at how we handle followers and a poll indicated that around 2/3 of the people present at the beginning checked for new followers frequently. They also had some criteria for deciding whether to: follow back, wait and see, or block/report spam. The remaining third did some checking but had less clear criteria and only occasionally blocked anyone.  Personally I am quite active in how I deal with new followers. I check very frequently and block quite often – I apply this to anyone I am unsure of or who starts the alarm bells ringing in my head. I make a conscious effort to keep my following list relatively small, so I don’t necessarily follow back everyone who follows me. For example I rarely follow anyone who does almost all retweets or who just tweets their blog posts or who does nothing but links. This is a very personal preference and I do it because I feel that the social interaction oils the wheels of the professional relationship and this is important to me personally.

We shared strategies for determining how we decide whether to follow someone. Some of those that several of us had in common were: checking out profile, avatar, follower/following ratio, recent tweets (number, topics, style, type), and their follower list. Other suggestions from chat and the whiteboard included: membership of other groups in common, “meeting” in another context (face to face or electonically, using Topify, using Twitter-gardening, using Tweetdeck’s new followers column and when they joined vs how many they follow.

There were a range of characteristics that started new follower alarm bells for some or all of us including: any provocative content, following excessive number vs followers, zero/minimal tweets, heavy marketing, self-styled experts/gurus, anything free/secret or guaranteed to …. Additional suggestions included automated tweets, social media specialists and real estate.

We also talked about reducing the number of irrelevant followers generated when we use a keyword in a Tweet. Many of these are automated searches that autofollow anyone who puts their search word in a Tweet. Some of the main ones include words like spam, sex, love, names of celebrities, major sports, cities, countries. While the last few may only attract one or two followers for example a tourist centre, the earlier ones can attract a flood of very inappropriate followers. A strategy that seems to work for me is replacing one or more letters in the word with a character such as “*” very much in the style that was used in print in an attempt to reduce the impact of possibly offensive words.

I find managing followers much easier than when I first joined Twitter a year ago. I use mainly my Twitter home page on the web and Tweetdeck for all my Twitter interaction and management, and in my opinion each new version has made dealing with new followers easier.


To illustrate this I shared my Twitter page and quickly blocked a new follower (not the one above) that I was doubtful about. There was some discussion about reporting spam, again I have a very personal opinion that reporting is useful because the more people that report a dubious Tweeter the more likely that Twitter will take some action.

My own feeling is that managing my Twitter stream actively helps to reduce both the risk to me and the risk that people who follow me will be attacked through me.

How to recognise an attack and what to do.

The discussion then moved on to recognising and dealing with an attack. Being aware of the style and type of messages sent by your followers is one way to recognise a probable attack. One of the most common attack types is to hijack someone’s account and then send DMs in their name that perpetuate the hijacking. I am immediately suspicious if I get an unexpected DM from someone in my stream that falls into one of these categories: doesn’t relate to a recent topic; points me to a link with just a general comment eg “Look at this” “Is this you?”

In my opinion it is important that we tell anyone from whom we get odd DMs. Once your account has been hacked it is quite possible for a DM to be sent in your name without your knowledge. If we simply block anyone who sends us an odd DM then the attackers win because they are curtailing our use of Twitter. It’s also helpful to others if you warn the rest of your followers when you get a suspicious Tweet. This is particularly helpful for people who are relatively new to Twitter.

If someone tells you that you have sent odd DMs then it is likely that your account has been compromised and that someone has access to it. This may have happened as a result of your participation in one of the games, toys or gadgets you have accessed from Twitter, many of these ask you for access to your account, not all of them are legitimate and even those that are may themselves be hacked. If you have this problem just changing your password is not enough as you have already given these third parties access to your account.

To check out who has access to your account you can go to your Twitter homepage and look at the Connections Tab in Settings. When I put this slide up during the session it gave rise to a sudden silence in the text chat causing me to worry that my sound had dropped out. Of course what had happened was that everyone had immediately gone to their Twitter page to check out access, and several were busy revoking access for suspicious applications.


If you don’t have a connections tab then you have not given anyone access to your account. Personally if I get a suspicious Tweet from someone I follow I tell them and also usually suggest they try the above.

A great source of information on what is currently happening in the way of problems on Twitter and of fixes for problems is to use the Help on your Twitter homepage as this takes you to Support. There you will find a range of information including FAQ and links to the Twitter blog. I have found this really useful when strange things have been happening on Twitter and it tends to be my first port of call when seeking solutions.

We had a great session and I think we all all learned a lot from one another – and that is the purpose of our sessions! Learning together, learning from one another is just the best professional development there is.