Ease your student supervision speed bumps.

Using Hashtags to Learn and Listen

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.43.03 PMI had enough data to analyze for hours.  Coding memos to write and even four additional books to include in my literature review.  I had a full to-do list on Monday November 24th.

But I could not look away.  This was more important than my dissertation.  The decision in Missouri was out and #Ferguson was trending both online and in-person.   

As I followed the live coverage I discovered my jaw began to throb.  I realized I had not closed my mouth; jaw dropped for what could have been an hour.  I watched CNN, attempted to follow Twitter and even checked into a live stream being taken from a local resident’s phone.

Even as I write this, Ferguson continues to be the number one trending topic on Twitter as protests build nationwide.  CNN is back on and Twitter streaming #Ferguson. 

As I currently watch the events unfold real time, I wonder if others are hearing the voices online.  Much is being said and experienced on Twitter.  We can learn by listening and participating through hashtags.

Participating in #Ferguson

Early on I tweeted: 

I made this call to action because many still do not realize what a powerful tool Twitter is for local and global action, conversation, education and community building.  We can participate, listen and learn.  But it is a tool, not the answer.  As with any tool, it can be used for good or for bad.  I believe Twitter can teach us. It can even teach those who do not choose to actively engage with it.  It is a much as a listening tool as it is an opportunity to exercise speech.

What are you Tweeting?

In addition to listening and learning from the hashtag, I posted:

During the president’s address:

As the protests began:

Have you joined the online conversation?  Are you adding reflection, updates, challenges or support?

If you have not already done so while reading this, open a new browser and head to www.twitter.com.  You don’t need to have a twitter account or even log in.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.58.14 PMIn the upper right corner type in #Ferguson, or click (here).  You can also read other related hashtags, rooted in this event including #BlackLivesMatter#MikeBrown and #MichaelBrown.

Other Ways to Participate in a Hashtag

If you are new to Twitter or to the topic trending, you may be a little intimidated to initially join the online conversation.  Another way to participate in a hashtag is by favoriting and/or re-tweeting.  You can do this to recognize other Tweets that you want to digitally “applaud” or share.  Here are a few that I shared last night.  

Hashtags are not Perfect

There are the trolls.  There is racism.  There are personal attacks.  There is spam.  There is self promotion. 

But there is also community.  There are human being.  There are relationships to be made.  There is hope.  There are calls for action.

29319246_mlTo learn from hashtags you have to participate and have some patience.  Whether you lurk, actively contribute, or debate you will see it all.  The hate.  The love.  It will also go by very very fast, especially if it’s trending. 

Many blame social media for incorrect information, heightening emotions and only offering surface level conversation around topics that matter.  I can’t completely disagree.

If you only use Twitter for your news.  If you believe everything you read.  If you destructively fuel the hate.   If you only tweet about these topics and do nothing in person.  Then yes, Twitter is not a fully realized tool.

But it can be the spark.  

Learning through Hashtags

Being part of a trending hashtag is an experience.  Social media gives us access to this very big world, but we have to listen.

No matter if you live in a small town or a massive city, Twitter provides access to events, education and networks.  But not in isolation.

9931421_mlLearning and community can happen through hashtags.  Whether it is trending from a recent event or an ongoing dialogue around a social justice issue, learn from others tweeting.  Take this information to then actively contribute and support others.  And most importantly make Twitter really go viral with in-person conversations and action.  

Find a group of friends, a team or a group of colleagues, staff members or professional you work with.   Have each person come with one hashtag they have observed and learned from that week.  Educate the team with what was learned and why this hashtag is influencing the digital environment, as well as impacting higher education/college students.

How are you using hashtags to learn as an educator?  How can we use social media to bridge conversation with action in-person?

Twitter can teach if you are willing listen, even if it is hard to hear.  #ferguson #blacklivesmatter  #MikeBrown

#Participate #Listen #Learn

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Share this post!

You may also like...

Hybrid Hype in Higher Ed, Is your campus ready?

Hybrid Hype in Higher Ed – Is your campus ready?

A hybrid campus is not attempting business as usual while adding online options. It is completely redefining and reshaping what is the campus experience.

Read More »

Building Online Community for College Students

Building Online Community for College Students Connection is more important than ever. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, what will become your campus digital living room or quad? Beyond the classroom, where will our students find each other to laugh, lead, and just be? How can student engagement professionals and social media professionals collaborate …

Read More »

Cultivating Faculty Partnerships: How Digital Marketers and Faculty Can Combine Forces

Josie Ahlquist, EdD, with Danielle Sewell, MFA “Marketing just makes me feel slimy.”  The faculty member who said this was a colleague I respected and the topic had come up during a committee meeting about campus-wide initiatives, including communications. She dropped it casually, with no intention of being malicious. It was just how she felt.  …

Read More »

Subscribe to my newsletter

For the latest on digital engagement and leadership and everywhere they intersect.

Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

Connect with Rebekah

Spark your mission on social media

Sign up for the Digital Leadership Download

The newsletter that brings the latest in digital engagement and leadership right to your inbox

Unsubscribe anytime. Read our Privacy Policy.

Sign up for the Digital Leadership Download

The newsletter that brings the latest in digital engagement and leadership right to your inbox

Unsubscribe anytime. Read our Privacy Policy.