April 4, 2014, by Graham Kendall

Another UNMC First: Live Twitter feed at the U21 KWBN Global Citizenship Workshop

This post was contributed by Sean Matthews and Yeong Woon Chin, for Knowledge Without Borders Network/U21 Global Citizenship Workshop

As the Vice-Provost for Research & Knowledge Transfer has already blogged about the U21 Global Citizenship live Twitter feed, which we ran throughout the event using the #U21GC hashtag (check it out!), it may be useful to offer a few comments about the initiative.

We were concerned in planning the event to develop ways both to give higher visibility to the activities, and to offer partners around the U21 network (27 universities around the world) the opportunity to make ‘virtual’ connections with what was going on. The Twitter initiative, led by our colleague and Steering Committee member, Jessica Dunn from the School of Applied Psychology, was initially conceived as a competition that might involve all the U21 institutions, perhaps as a way of generating some ‘buzz’ in the buildup to the actual workshop. This proved too difficult to achieve, though the concept is sound enough if you’ve got a good set of collaborators or an existing network with which to work, but given that running the live feed in the event was something of an experiment, both conceptually and technologically, with a little anxiety as to whether we’d be able actually to maintain/curate the feed throughout the event, we confined ourselves to in- and post- event tweeting so as not to overegg the expectations.

Photo credit: Mohammad Farhan Ally Choonka

Photo credit: Mohammad Farhan Ally Choonka

We kept the idea of a competition as the centerpiece both to draw attention to the live feed amongst delegates, to incentivize tweeting, and to offer an additional space in which participants could report, comment, or joke (!) about the way things were going. To enter the competition (which is still running, post-event, primarily because we haven’t decided on a winner yet!), all delegates were invited to tweet about the workshop with 140 characters (or less) about “What makes a good Global Citizen?” Check out the feed yourself via #U21GC  (there’s still a chance to enter): here are some of our favourites:

Even old people care about global citizenship.

Global citizens are critical thinkers and conscientious actors.

Global Citizenship is… enhanced Metacognitive Capability #U21GC trust me, we’ve sorted it.

A good global citizen? Understanding and appreciating the local culture and being able to operate effectively in that environment.

Global Citizenship is not about where you are (or where you go) but who you are and how you think.

Reflecting on the benefits and challenges of adding this extra burden to the event planning, on balance we think it was well worth it. You certainly have to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve:

  • There’s a useful concision in a tweet, and it can help focus the mind and cut through some of the brain-fug, or get things going with an initial provocation or perception.
  • Picking up key points and real-time quotes from keynote speakers can be a great bullet-point record of the arc of a lecture or presentation, but you need to ensure that you’ve got one or two people dedicated to doing that unless you’re confident you’ve got enough tweeters to crowdsource.
  • Twitter everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s alien to many, so ensuring that the feed is lively and visible without being intrusive is important.
  • Getting your presenters on board to interact with the feed is important, particularly in more workshop environments such as our Global Citizenship event.
  • Seeing the twitter feed start to swell gives immediate evidence of your participants’ involvement in the event, and also give space for additional voices to respond in real time: within the #U21GC feed you’ll even see exchanges between members of the audience at the keynote.
  • Over a two day event such as ours, the feed can serve as an archive – and you may want to supplement the delegates’ posts with summaries and reminders of the takeaways, outcomes… and commitments to further work!

As for the technical side, if you’re thinking of doing this for a UNMC event, there are a few things to bear in mind…


A quick guide to start / setup a live feed and tweeting session during a conference event

  • Technicalities
    • Get a good internet connection (and using the correct service set identification (SSID) connection too!).
    • The basic equipment – laptop with strong wifi connection, projector and the screen to project the live feed.
    • Venue layout arrangement – ensuring good visibility to view the live feed screen, frequent site visits to setup the best angle to view the live feed from the audience and speaker perspective.
    • The tweeting process
      • Providing your Twitter handle prior to the event and projecting them onto the event backdrop or posters – @UNMCKWBN and @u21news .
      • Creation of the event hashtag – for us, #U21GC .
        • Useful tip: Although there are multiple sessions going on at different times in the two days, it might be good to have a session hashtag created for others who are unable to follow the session in real time, but you do risk diluting/thinning the main feed.
  • Tweet professionally (I) – Not everyone will be interested in tweeting their presentations, video links to the Twitterverse. But certainly promote those who do – a shoutout to @JoHoltan for the fantastic Vimeo video on Global Citizenship created at @EUSAGlobal, which we have also retweeted.
  • Tweeting professionally (II) – Also, big shout out to Yvonne Teoh, one of our two official photographers for the workshop for the tweet during the event from a different perspective. A brilliant tweet, definitely! (See image above on the projector screen)
  • Manage the time so that, if you do have an event or organizational twitter account, you retweet all tweets (should be instant, as far as possible).
  • Getting connected – remember to follow your fellow tweeters at the event to view / retweet / reply to their tweets.
  • Barriers and solutions
    • Remember to auto set the machine screensaver to ‘no hibernation’. Otherwise your feed screen will go dark.
    • Auto refresh of the Twitter feed, similar to Facebook timeline auto refresh function: There are many ways to auto refresh a Twitter page and our personal favorite, from much trial and error, is using Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck allows you to auto refresh for multiple feeds (home page, notifications, search outcome of event hashtag). The advantage here is all columns will auto-refresh with new tweets two to three times per minute. The only drawback which we can see is you will need to create one more sign in account to sync with your existing Twitter account.

Key personnel to thank here for the live tweeting session include, Jessica Dunn, Sarina Chan, Thomas Lai, Dexter Yin and Emily Oi (also including our fellow tweeters or twitterers!). Do stay tune to the #U21GC hashtag or wait for an email from kwbn@nottingham.edu.my for the announcement of the Twitter competition winner!

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