Skip to content

Twitter workshop #tw101 evaluation

January 13, 2011

When the Patients’ Association of Canada (PAC) asked me to give them a workshop on how to Twitter, I dreaded the thought of presenting a slide deck of screen shots and bulleted lists. I thought why not show them Twitter in action.

So I turned to my followers. First I asked:

“Can I give a workshop about the basics of Twitter in person and on Twitter simultaneously? Any tips?”

I got a flood of encouragement and useful practical advice @andrewspong @blogbrevity @crgonzalez @chibbie @eyoste @rawarrior @ctsinclair @rdjfraser @jodyms @whydotpharma @KathyKastner.

Thus the hashtag #tw101 was born and yesterday at 5 pm I held a small workshop with 7 people in PAC’s offices and 39 contributors on Twitter. You can read the transcript here. Participant knowledge ran the gamut from Twitter naïve to expert. Attitudes ranged from skeptic to curious to evangelist.

The formula

After introductions, I asked the Twitter group 3 questions:

  1. Q: Tell us why you Twitter. What’s your single biggest benefit of using Twitter? #tw101
  2. Q: What is your favourite Twitter learning resource? What demystified Twitter for you? #tw101
  3. Q: So how should a newbie get started? #tw101

The #tw101 Twitter stream generated lively discussion off and online. When the chat was over, I reviewed the stream with the participants in the room.

What worked

  • The collective knowledge from the Twitter participants offered a wider range of perspectives and tactics than I could have alone.
  • Seeing Twitter in action spoke volumes to the participants who had never followed a Twitter conversation. Immediately they started to see how it could work for them before I spoke a word.
  • The offline debrief following the Twitter session was as important as the Tweet chat itself. The participants asked questions that were particular to their goals and needs.
  • Having another avid Twitterer in the room was critical. I was lucky that Rob Fraser (@rdjfraser) joined the workshop in person. We didn’t plan to present the workshop together, but ultimately we did. Rob helped keep the Twitter stream rolling during the chat if a question from the room kept me busy. Similarly, as I was wrapping up the chat, he kept the real life discussion going.

What I would change

  • Find a less intrusive way to transfer prepared tweets to Tweet chat with a live audience.
  • Officially conduct the workshop with a co-presenter. (Thanks Rob for being there.)

The results

All of the participants left with a better understanding of how they could use Twitter. I hope you’ll welcome @PatientsAssocCa and @Sholomg. The others can now make an informed decision about whether Twitter is right for them and when.

Overall, I think the experiment was a success. However, I wonder if I could do it again without fatiguing my followers? What do you think?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Joanna Ptolomey permalink
    January 14, 2011 9:16 am

    When Colleen asked me to join I was delighted to be part of the course (or experiment). Even although with the time differences it was harder to schedule – in Scotland it was 10pm and I was in my pjs, but I know you won’t tell anyone.

    In my opinion you have to experience life by going on the journey. Life is not the story that someone tells you about. Twitter is like that – you have to experience it, be part of it, find and engage with what interests you, and be part of a story. Your story, mixed with others stories. It can be fun, fast, heady sometimes and nearly always of benefit.

    Twitter is just a tool – it allows you to experience. But that is not in itself useful – it is what you do with that knowledge, with those conversations and achieve the goals you have set yourself. That is what #tw101 is all about.

    Can twitter change the world? The technology won’t, but your actions may. Being able to use social media tools like twitter is important so that we can all be part of story in changing and moulding healthcare. All stakeholders need to be able to take part.

    Colleen developed a highly interactive method of showing how this happens. Yes a Powerpoint presentation with bullet points and handouts would have been a waste and what would we have got out of it. It wouldn’t have been so effective in showing the real power of the tool – such as connectiveness and sharing.

    Remember it is a tool – you the people are the one’s really making the difference.

    Joanna Ptolomey


    • January 14, 2011 1:19 pm

      What a fantastic addition to the conversation Joanna. Prime example of where a comment (read dialogue) enhances an article. Many thanks.


  2. January 14, 2011 9:33 am

    I think the “dive in” approach to Twitter is excellent to demo the breadth & scope of the platform. There are some functions, in fact, that are more readily understood visually than through written description, like checking replies and especially hashtags.

    I also think traditional instruction adds the nuance. Some may find this antiquated but I enjoyed hearing about Twitter’s ‘early days’ and its emphasis on community, positive support, and — yes – civility. There’s a lovely system of manners within Twitter. And in our current time, we need all the civility we can get.

    And as for fatiguing your followers with another session? Goodness gracious, authentic instruction on Twitter is like peanut butter and jelly. If we can’t deal with people learning then there are more issues at stake than meet the eye!



    • January 14, 2011 1:25 pm

      Do you see what happens when you give people more than 140 characters? Deeper conversation. Bridging geographic barriers. Here we’re talking from Glasgow, Woodlands (Texas) and Toronto “simultaneously”. Linking a tweet to a blog conversation gives you that opportunity.

      Thanks for your feedback Jody.


  3. JBBC permalink
    January 14, 2011 12:41 pm

    Sounds like a truly dynamic and engaged presentation Colleen – well done!


    • January 14, 2011 1:31 pm

      Thanks Marie. (now Ireland comes to the party) I plan to follow #tw101 with a part 2. Not sure when yet but I know I would like to continuing the learning and sharing for newbies and experts alike. I’m thinking about asking:

      Q: How you integrate Twitter into your workflow? Scheduling?
      Q: What tools and platforms do you use?
      Q: Share your favourite Twitter ‘secret strategy’?

      Any other suggestions?


  4. Zimbarama permalink
    January 14, 2011 6:09 pm

    Dear Colleen,

    i thought this was a great way to introduce people to Twitter, in that you had a live discussion taking place on Twitter that enabled your class to see the power of Twitter. I think too many people dont understand the concept of Twitter, and as i was saying in the discussion the media often interchanges Facebook and Twitter, implying they are the same thing.

    I think it is very important to make the distinction early on to new users of Twitter, but I what I do in my teaching is encourage people to not follow people they know i.e thier neighbours or friends they already know but rather to follow people who they look up to, inspired by, interested in, in other words I say to them who is someone in the world that you would like to converse with or meet, see if they are on Twitter and follow them.. and that seems to to wonders…

    But all in all I think the way you ran it was really good! awesome,, look forward to more interactive discussions :-)


    • January 16, 2011 10:01 pm

      Thank you for taking part in the workshop experiment. You make two very good points here. Yes, Twitter is different from Facebook. They are easily used interchangeably by the media and by people who do not use social media.

      Your advice about who to follow is wise. Newcomers to Twitter often ask how to get started following. Again, it comes back to the person’s or organizations goals. Think about who you would like to converse with. I was pleasantly surprised by the people I found to connect with. When I first started on Twitter, I thought I would converse with members and potential members of I had no idea I would find such a rich resource of collective knowledge. The group of people I follow expands far beyond breast cancer. I consider Twitter my continuing education.


  5. January 17, 2011 1:43 pm

    I found the meeting friendly and useful. We need more meetings like this in our world. I came away with a much better understanding of how and why to approach the world of tweet… I even have a time when I might try to sue it in the next little while.


    • January 17, 2011 6:29 pm

      Thanks Sholom. I’m glad it helped take away some of the mystery of Twitter. But as others said, the best thing to do is just dive in. Follow your followers of interest and then LIE:
      * Listen
      * Inform
      * Engage

      Happy tweeting.


  6. January 20, 2011 8:16 am

    Great post and great results Colleen. We are talking about something similar in Athens and your post gave me ideas about what to do and what to avoid.


  7. carmen2u permalink
    January 21, 2011 2:16 pm


    What a brilliant way to introduce Twitter! The “Learn-by-doing” method conveys so much more than a descriptive PPT. I like that your revealed Twitter’s benefits through a live demo, where participants could see for themselves how crowdsourcing is activated. They dove right into the cyber waters, and you were there as their lifejacket!

    While the Mayo Clinic is pursuing online training using webinars as their tool (, you are using the Twitter platform itself to showcase its strengths. While there is a place for both methods, I find yours probably gains more converts and raises more insights.


    • January 22, 2011 4:17 pm

      Thank you Carmen for taking the time to add your assessment of the Twitter teaching experiment. I rather like the water/lifejacket analogy. As it turned out, no one needed the life jacket, but I’m sure they were braver because it was there.

      Thanks too for the Mayo resource.



  1. Weekly news and views | Social Media Marketing for Non-Profits

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: