Thursday, January 22, 2009

Academia meets Twitter: Part 6 - HEBISD

This is Part 6 of a series entitled Academia meets Twitter, where professionals took part in a short e-mail Q&A session to discuss Twitter incorporation in an educational setting.

Hurst Euless Bedford ISD
Twitter Handle: @hebisd
Participant: Dave Nielsen
Hurst Euless Bedford ISD Communications Department, Assistant Webmaster

From which department does the Twitter profile run?
Communications Department

How often do you monitor the profile?
Rarely. I look at the automatic new follower emails that Twitter sends, and I follow the account from my personal account, but I login and double check things less than once a month.

What applications do you use to run Twitter?
Our website uses a custom-built CMS which outputs an RSS feed of headlines, body text, thumbnails, and links. Twitterfeed takes that RSS feed and posts the headline and a TinyURL that points to the link. Right now, it's entirely automatic, although I would reply manually if anyone sent an @Reply or Direct Message.

Have you determined if more, students, alumni, prospective students, staff, or community members are following?
The majority of the followers look to be spam/marketers. Beyond that, it looks like we've got a couple students, and maybe a community member or two. I've never really investigated this.

What communication goals do you hope to meet using Twitter for your institution?
Right now, it's very much a testing the waters thing, and we don't have any specific goals in mind. I wanted to make sure that we had control of @hebisd for possible future use. The way it's setup now, it's mostly just a way to for anyone who's interested to see what's going on in the district.

Additional Comments
Right now, we don't actively promote the Twitter account, nor have we shared the RSS feed url. I've setup a Facebook Page for HEBISD, but it's mostly just to save that space for possible future use. I'm guessing that next time we do a survey on how stakeholders would like to get news and information from the district, we'll include some choices/questions about online tools and social networking, and use that as guidance on how to proceed.
Vedo's Thoughts: I wanted to be sure to include an example here of a public school district to show that Twitter can also be useful in a k12 setting as well. Plus, they are being proactive and staking a claim in Facebook for future use. Full disclosure: I run the Mansfield Independent School District's Twitter Profile. At this point it is a broadcast only profile as well with a modest number of followers. Like Dave, we are looking at ways to use this tool effectively and hope to meet some additional communication goals for the district. One other thing, Dave was very forthcoming and had some additional thoughts concerning what is sent using the school district's profile versus what he posts from his personal Twitter profile. He points out that he tries, "to post responsibly in that regard." Well said.

Academia meets Twitter