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Nascent vision of technology: technology help via twitter

August 8, 2011

I wanted to describe a simple and easy to implement idea I had for improving tech support at schools—twitter. Just create an account (I chose @wmstechhelp) and use the account to tweet out daily technology tips, and also to respond to faculty tweets with technology questions. I decided to try to staff this with a bunch of faculty, so that it would have a faculty helping faculty vibe. Instant response, with a public record so that others can learn? What’s not to like? This is Park Service IT at its finest.

Here’s the email I used to recruit faculty to help man the account:

Hi All,
I’ve got a a very exciting project I need your help with—I want you to be part of a rapid-response tech support team that uses Twitter to help our faculty solve daily technology troubles and learn more about how to use their computer.

Here’s the idea—I’ve created a twitter account wmstechhelp. This account will post tweets with easy tips and tricks to get more out of your mac. Also, when a wms user is having a tech problem, they’ll just tweet a question to @wmstechhelp, and get a quick response from the account. This is great, because everything is public, so we’ll be able to learn from the questions people ask. and people will be able to learn from the answers that are published.

Here’s where I need your help. I need this account to be well-staffed by a lot of people who are able to respond to tweets, so that no one person is carrying the burden of responding to everything. If ~10 people are managing the account, the likelihood that someone will be watching the account and able to respond to a message is greatly increased, and the load any one of us would have to carry is very small.

Here are the account login details:
login: XXXXXXX
password: XXXXXXXX

And you don’t necessarily need to be a mac expert to do this. Most technical problems can be solved simply by googling them. What I need are people who are committed to helping other faculty learn how to better use their computers, since all of our lives will be improved by increasing the technology understanding of our faculty, and we are all sure to learn a lot as we try to find answers to the questions that are posed.

So I’m sending this note to you, who some of the the first people that come to mind when I think of who has done a lot to help faculty understand technology better on campus.

If you’re interested, please let me know with a short response to this email.

Many thanks,

And here’s the post to our faculty technology blog describing the project. The only hiccup in the whole endeavor is that somehow Twitter decided to suspend our account, but I’m hoping this will be worked out shortly. Total time to set this up: < 1 hour.

I hope this project does a few things—I hope it gives faculty a new avenue to quick, responsive help. I hope it helps faculty to see that we are teaching each other, and that everyone has questions. And finally, I hope it brings a few more folks at my school over to twitter.

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