Giving in to Twitter… but for a good reason

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Please help me welcome Moodlenews’ newest writer, Marty Soupcoff.  Marty has a lot of experience with Moodle as an Instructional Technologist at California State University, Northridge (a Moodle using university).  Marty will be posting here periodically, you can also keep track of him on Facebook and at Moodle.org.  

WIRIS

I know what you must be thinking,

“I don’t need a Twitter account. All they are used for are telling your friends where you are or taking pictures of the supposedly the BEST DINNER EVER!!! It’s useless for my Moodle team and me.”

(disclaimer: I don’t know who that girl is but I wish she would have shared).

Well I’m here to tell you… you are pretty much right. However, there may be certain instances where a Twitter account can save you and your Moodle team from disaster.

In the world of information technology (IT), things happen. Servers go down, databases get corrupted or some random act of God causes your Moodle site to crash at 4:50pm on Friday delaying your happy hour karaoke with your friends. While you and your team scramble to find the cause and get your site back online, your user base may be panicking as well because they  have an assignment or quiz due in ten minutes. Depending on how your team’s outage plan, users could encounter a multitude of scenarios when trying to reach your Moodle page. Best case scenario they are forwarded to another webpage that informs them of the outage. Worst case scenario they just hit a dead webpage. There could be an instance though that your best case scenario turns into your worst case scenario. For example, when your Moodle site goes down, they are forwarded to your IT website. Well what if your entire system goes down; Moodle, your IT website, everything! Twitter could be your saving grace in this case. By posting an outage tweet, any subscribers will be notified.

“But what if not all my users have Twitter accounts?”

No problem. Your user base can subscribe via an RSS feed. My personal favorite is FeedMyInbox.com where all you have to do is enter the page you are subscribing to and your email address. Whenever there is an update, you will then receive an email straight to your inbox.

“Well how do I tell everyone about the Twitter feed in the first place?”

That’s easy too. I would recommend setting up an HTML block on your splash page. There you can embed a Twitter widget and set the widget to display a single tweet at a time or an entire feed. Besides posting about outages, you could also post links to any help guides your site has, special events happening, etc.

“Okay I’m convinced. How did you come up with this idea though?”

Experience. Bad ones. After a couple of crashes, my team and I decided we needed to change things up a little. So we decided this was one of the easiest and simplest ways to do that.

Happy Moodle Logooodling!