Twittering the AERA conference

Providing substantial reactions to conference sessions, sharing information, and promoting one’s blog posts and presentations were the three kinds of information Tweeted most often at the AERA Annual Meeting in San Diego. Some 13,500 people attended during the week of April 13.

Other significant categories of messages included references to Twitter itself, feedback on the overall conference experience, the time and date of a proposed Twitter meetup, and concerns about technology in general (and wireless internet access in particular).

A few weeks before the conference I set up a PBWiki and a Twitter stream to encourage people to record their activities and observations via text message. I set a Twitter search for the keyword AERA. I invited those mentioning AERA in Twitter to follow the AERAtweeup twitter stream and to consider adding their information to the Wiki in advance of the meeting.

As a member of the AERA communication & Outreach Committee I viewed this exercise as an opportunity to

  • capture attendees’ reactions to the content of the sessions
  • capture their reactions to the logistics of the meeting (which spread over several hotels)
  • let each other know what sessions looked particularly promising, and
  • arrange a time for an informal meeting / meetup / Tweetup to talk tech.

During the week of the conference Twitter participants (N ~ 150) sent text messages about their activities  and tagged messages with the keyword AERA or #AERA.

After the conference I captured the Twitter stream of more than 1,000 text messages so tagged. After discarding some messages because of noise or irrelevance I settled on a final number of 973 messages.

categories of Tweets

From the message stream I created a CSV file and pulled it into MS Excel for tagging and sorting. I made two complete runs through the data, fine-tuning my (admittedly informal) tagging system as I went along.

I will share feedback on individual sessions and on the conference as a whole with AERA staff as planning begins for next year’s conference.

Here are a few examples of the messages from some of the categories.

Conference feedback (57 messages)
ksquire @adamaig true but I take it as data of how non digital educational researchers are. #AERA is the last place to go for innovation.

mdwaggoner For a huge conference like AERA I believe San Diego has the best facilities I’ve experienced. I still prefer New York though.

jayneway As a first timer the formality of this event is striking. I’m not much into formal stuff. #aera

Session reactions (151 messages)

elliottjlb RT @jayneway Some very well-known quantitative researchers talking about the importance of qualitative research.Very good to see this. #aera

EveProper #aera interesting work being done in European higher ed at CHEPS

LDinSTL_Chimera @scd Agree – James Gee + Idit Harel definitely best session I have been to! #AERA #arvelsig

Information sharing (120 messages)
pabaker55 Amy Stuart Wells: “I think of ed journalism and ed research as two overlapping circles. Interaction is helpful to both of us.” #AERA

R_Colvin “ability to predict college performance at pt. of admissions remains remarkably poor” #AERA

ShawnEdmondson AERA journal presents research on use of observational methods to improve instruction. http //tinyurl.com/dhpz3t

Self-promotional
crutherford #AERA countdown has begun. Just finished the slides for my presentation on Facebook & teacher knowledge development that will happen 4/14

dhearrin Reading AERA papers in preparation for being a discussant next Tuesday & Thursday. It’s killing me softly …

Tech/wireless
Michaelcjohnson is still at AERA without internet connectivity.

pabaker55 info about wireless at #AERA on the wiki. pls. add more if you discover it http://bit.ly/aHIue

pabaker55 RT @mod_gurl #AERA how about the conf nixes the printed phone book programs and put the $$ towards wifi access?? …

Bud_T #AERA I’m getting really tired of not having wireless in these conference rooms

Tweetup
rmosvold Heading for the tweetup! #AERA

Savvides @Dre1479 Hey there may be a Tweet-up at #AERA. Check this out http://aeratweetup.pbwiki.com/FrontPage

Scd @aeratweetup #AERA Is there another tweetup planned? AERAtweetup #AERA

informal gathering tonight 7:30 at the Yard House brew pub 1023 4th Ave at Broadway, San Diego. good pub food.

Twitter
Bud_T twitter done with the #AERA hashtag for awhile but we need to continue the convo about getting people to use twitter at this conference

DrGarcia twitter #followfriday @LDinSTL_Chimera a shining star early adopter of twitter at #aera !Que Viva la Revoluccion! I’m on her team.

dsnotataera2009 twitter Here’s what I’m doing so far. I’m searching on #aera. The results so far are people talking about using Twitter. [Annoyed with ch limit]

dthickey twitter getting started with twitter in anticipation of AERA

elliottjlb twitter Who’s a@aera from UVA who’s also on Twitter? Looking for some peeps!

General ‘verbing’ (planning, arriving, leaving, etc.).
elliottjlb I’m headed to the conference to register –look out AERA. #AERA

EveProper Listening to linda darling-hammond #aera #fb

glojacobs off to san diego. might be using twitter for blogging the conference. #aera anyone?

grabe AERA begins today. After listening to colleague stories last night glad I am not looking for job as a new prof.

Resources:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/03/twittering-live.html

http://blogs.asaecenter.org/Acronym/2009/03/a_twitter_experiment.html

http://www.greatideasconference.org/twitterideas.cfm

http://www.searchengineguide.com/jennifer-laycock/dont-miss-the-post-conference-twitter-ne.php

http://www.theinnovationdiaries.com/2009/03/24/the-hierarchy-of-tweets-analysing-the-psychology-of-twitter/

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3 Responses to Twittering the AERA conference

  1. Liz Dorland says:

    Nice post, and fun meeting you at the Monday night mini-tweet up. 🙂

    I’m actually surprised there were ~150 of us tweeting. It seemed like fewer than that, but it’s a start. Maybe next year we will reach critical mass.

    Liz D.
    — LDinSTL_Chimera on twitter

  2. M C Smith says:

    I was optimistic that the AERA Twitter feed might be useful and portend good things…but hopes were quickly dashed when it was apparently that wifi connectivity was hopeless or nonexistent throughout the Conference sites. AERA has made strides in many ways over the past several years to raise its profile, but sure has a ways to go to facilitate communication among members during the annual meeting.

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