12 Reasons Why I Use Twitter

TechPudding on Twitter

That’s me. On Twitter.

It’s been a long time since I last posted. In between, I (finally) discovered the power of microblogging on Twitter. I freely admit that I am late to the Twitter party and a beginner in many ways. It took me about three weeks to discover the elements of microblogging that appeal to me. Like any new innovation, you need a reason to use it, and to stick with it for a little while in order to see the potential.

12 Reasons Why I Use Twitter

  1. I have suddently discovered thousands of inspirational educators, creative ideas, and thought-provoking resources
  2. Sending out my thoughts into the great beyond is empowering and makes me think (for real or otherwise) that some people want to hear what I have to say
  3. I can find people who think like me
  4. I can find people who think differently from me
  5. I have discovered local (and by local I mean people in my community, city, province, and country) who are doing amazing work and I can actually connect with them – may I mention among many, Astronaut Chris Hadfield @Cmdr_Hadfield as part of my Professional Learning Network (PLN)?
  6. I can be a part of the massive network that influences what ideas, opinions and work gets shared across the world, and who it is shared with
  7. I can always find something fun, interesting, and useful in my network
  8. I sometimes get lost in Tweets, from one link to another, from one person to another. It’s like wandering through a forest wherever your feet take you and discovering everything along the way
  9. It’s really easy to set up an account and participate
  10. When you don’t have time to fully reflect by engaging in a deep discussion or writing a blog post, Twitter allows you to do a mini-reflection on the go or star interesting items to use later
  11. I hear local and world news not just from corporate news sources, but from real people
  12. I can Tweet about what interests me: communications and marketing, change management, edtech, and good television @TechPudding

Many tips and tricks have been written, shared, and yes, Tweeted about Twitter and microblogging. Here are a few of the best that I have found.

For New Tweeters

For Pro Tweeters

Tweeps I Follow

Here are just a few Tweeps out of the 1,300+ that I enjoy following. I try to follow people with a variety of viewpoints and expertise. There are so many–it’s best to start with a few by searching for terms that you are interested in or people that you already know about. I will feature some local Tweeps in a later post!

  • @MobileSyrup – An independent resource on mobile technology in Canada connecting to those who are mobile enthusiasts, professionals and shoppers
  • @web20classroom, Steven W. Anderson – An incredible educator and speaker with an excellent blog http://blog.web20classroom.org
  • @LDRB – LDRLB (pronounced leader lab) – An online think tank that shares insights from research on leadership, innovation, and strategy
  • @tomwhitby Tom Whitby – Prof of Edu (Ret). Founder: #Edchat, The EDU PLN, Edchat Radio Linkedin Tech-Using Profs
  • @oldaily Stephen Downes – A Canadian researcher and educator on the cutting edge of MOOCS, e-learning and new media
  • @gsiemens George Siemens – A Canadian professor and educator, also on the cutting edge of MOOCS, connectivist learning and edtech
  • @ChristensenInst Clayton Christensen Institute – A nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to improving the world through disruptive innovation
  • @ThisIsSethsBlog Seth Godin – Founder of http://Squidoo.com, author, and blogger
  • @Flocabulary Flocabulary – Flocabulary produces educational hip-hop music and some of it is free to use! There are a variety of themes from language arts to math

If you haven’t yet, will you give it a try? If you’re a microblogging fanatic, what’s the best part for you? Any tips to share (or Tweet)?

I invite you to try it out! And I invite you to follow me @TechPudding if you’re interested in communications, edtech, and leadership!

Usability and Visual Design: 3 Tools that Have it All

(Check the actual thing out at http://www.wix.com/techpudding/techpudding)

Greetings! Today I’d like to showcase two free web 2.0 tools that are both easy to use and look incredibly professional. They are both great tools to create widgets for websites, wikis, or blogs. Unlike many free web 2.0 tools available, their designers thought hard about creating clean and simple user interfaces, easy-to-follow instructions, and they also understand the concepts of visual composition and multimedia design.

When compared to tools like Prezi (a flowing online presentation maker) or Capzles (a visual timeline maker), where the user interface is relatively intuitive but the finished product is not quite fully professional unless you take extra time and effort, the following tools have an easy-to-use interface and highly professional outcomes that do not require extra effort by the user.

Because they are so professional looking, I would not only use these tools for their intended purposes, but also examine the elements of effective visual, usability, and multimedia design with students. We know how important usability and design are with the many advanced tools and technologies available to everyone. Trying multiple tools and comparing their usability is also a rich learning experience for students to understand what it takes to create useful and effective web tools. The only issue I have with these tools is the inability to embed them into WordPress.com, but they can all be embedded in other blog services and social networking sites.

1. Wix http://www.wix.com/

Wix not only allows you to create flash-based websites, but widgets as well. The owl on the scrunched-up paper at the top of this post was created using the incredibly easy to use widget maker feature. The owl actually blinks! You can add from Wix’s extensive library of music, animated images, and videos, or incorporate your own into the design. I used a ready-made template and simply changed the image to the owl and played with the font and text a bit. I even embedded a link in the text for my own blog. The entire process took me no longer than 5 minutes.

2. Popplet http://popplet.com/

With a name like this, you’d never know what this site can do. What it does very well, is help you to create mind maps that are incredibly stylish and easy to use. My example above is simple, but you can see how the visual design comes together to create something that is visually effective. You can use Popplet to create attractive posters and presentations as well. Check the site out to see some excellent examples!

3. SpicyNodes http://www.spicynodes.org/index.html

With a name like this, I’m sure you are interested. This site helps you to create flowing, interactive mind maps that have animated, interactive features like my trial above. They are incredibly professional looking and easy to use. With a number of styles to choose from and the ability to play with the font and add images, this is a slick way to create organized visuals of information and ideas.

If you have suggestions for other tools with superior ease of use and extremely professional design, please share them! And if you have successful stories of how you have used such tools, share them too!

Tech for Calm: Great Apps for Relaxation

At the end of a rushed, packed work week, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by my never-ending to-do list. When this happens, I like to do one of two things: read a great novel or create some artwork. So this weekend I chose the latter and went in search of some relaxing and artistic apps for my iPhone.

My search reminded me that technology isn’t just about productivity, information-management, or efficiency, but it can also help you feel as if time has slowed for relaxation and renewal. It reminded me that technology can be as connected to our emotions as it is to getting things done. So don’t expect the apps below to be action-packed visceral experiences–I was aiming for relaxation, calm, smiles, easy-to-use, and preferably free. Here’s what I found:

FlowerGarden (free) (iPhone, iPad) – You can grow flowers in several pots from a variety of free and paid seed packages. The flowers grow right before your eyes–some grow completely within a few hours. I believe that they do not die if you forget to water them, they just wilt so I appreciate that this is not one of those games that requires a ton of time and worry. My favourite part is that the flowers wave from side to side when I tilt my phone. It is somehow calming and entertaining at the same time. Lasting impression: Happiness.

Talking Larry the Bird (paid) (iPhone, iPad) – I haven’t tried this app, but the huge number of positive reviews makes me want to! A very cute bird responds to being poked and touched, and will repeat what you say or whistle. It sounds like laugh-out-loud entertainment. Lasting impression: Hillarious.



PlasmaGlobe (free) (iPhone, iPod, iPad) – A plasma sphere that you have probably seen in your high school science class, with a game twist. This one makes cool zapping sounds when you touch it and it’s also a game where you try to zap some small spheres that float by. It’s not difficult–just fun. Lasting impression: Zap!



Swirlcity (free) (iPad only) – This app allows you to draw lines made with particles with your fingers, and the particles attract or repell each other so they move as you draw. It adds an element of unpredictability to your doodles. Lasting impression: Physics and particles.




Irogami (free) (iPad only) – A drawing app in which the lines you draw are endless stacks of origami paper instead of ink lines. It’s simple and different. Lasting impression: Let’s learn to fold origami.


MirrorPaint (free) (iPhone, iPod, iPad) – This app takes me back to the Spirograph from my childhood. It mirrors your strokes and creates geometric Spirograph-like images. You can select the number of mirrors as well as watch the creation of pre-programmed patterns. Lasting impression: Spirograph!



Fingerpaint (free) (iPhone, iPod, iPad) – Unlike other finger-painting apps, this one features paint that has a smeary, smudgy texture. Although it doesn’t act like real paint, it makes me think of the way paint behaves when you use your hands to spread it on the page. Lasting impression: Digital messes are just as fun!



Fluid (free) (iPhone, iPod, iPad) – This app is visually like running your fingers through water and looking at the rocks below through the distortion. It includes calming background music. The only thing missing for me would be the sound of the water when I touch it. This is ultra-simple but calming and fun too. Lasting impression: Calming stream.



Bubble Harp (paid) (iPhone, iPod, iPad) – This incredibly innovative app connects sound to your movements on the screen. The app was originally released as interactive art in galleries and museums. The mixture of sound and visual output is both exciting and calming. It is an incredibly unique experience that can keep me entertained for a long time! Lasting impression: Mind-blowing.



Soundrop (free) (iPhone, iPod, iPad) – This app is a lot of fun and very simple to use. You place sticks underneath a small hole that drops come out of. When the drops hit the sticks, they bounce and make noise, becoming a work of music. You can remove sticks and add more at any time, which magically changes the music. Lasting impression: Tickles my ears.



Beatwave (free) (iPhone, iPod, iPad) – This is a basic step sequencer that you can use to create very pleasant-sounding loops without knowing anything about beats and music. You can get quite complex about it, but even when used simply, it is a fun and relaxing experience.  Lasting impression: Light and fun.

Have you used any of the apps above? What do you think of them? Please share your thoughts and recommendations!