Happy Peppy People at ASHA 2012

2012 ASHA Convention logo

“Hello friends. Are you tired, run-down, listless? Do you poop out at parties? Why don’t you join the thousands of happy peppy people…” at the 2012 ASHA Convention.  If this famous I Love Lucy script makes you think your convention experience thus far, then you are not alone.  Between walking from the Exhibit Hall to visit the vendors to checking out the NSSLHA Lounge and Poster Presentations, just navigating the convention can wear a person out.

Despite the many weary feet, the excitement from day 1 has been tangible. Waiting in line for coffee, finding the room number for sessions, or collecting your third Super Duper bag,  you can always find someone to share a conversation with. How often do you know everyone around you is an SLP or AUD, and feel comfortable discussing a therapy technique or a new iPad application while waiting in line?  The convention provides professionals from across the country opportunities to reconnect with colleagues and friends, refine intervention strategies and techniques, and renew the excitement and zeal for being “rainbows in the clouds” of our clients.

As a student, not only is attending sessions part of the allure of attending the convention, but meeting and networking with professionals who have knowledge and experience to share has been invaluable. Everyone I have met and shared a conversation with has been more than willing to relay tips for my SLP-CF job search or strategies for interviewing and negotiating a contract. I still get nervous before speaking with SLPs or AUDs, but I hope those I speak with remember what it felt like to be a student: Excited, nervous, stressed, overwhelmed, and just itching to finish our clinical internships. The convention is a chance for everyone to “nerd out” with other SLP students, professionals, professors, and researchers from across the world; it is like Christmas morning for me.

What was my favorite part of the 2012 ASHA Convention?

One of the highlights for me was meeting the SLPs, AUDs, and other student SLPs that I have met through Twitter over the past year. Many people are still apprehensive or unaware of the professional learning opportunities that wait by using Twitter with the #SLPeeps. Heidi Kay over at Pediastaff recruited some of the best SLPs who use social media as professional tools to create a Free Guidebook to help people get started. If you want to see how to use these tools, please check out the  easy to follow electronic book and start growing professionally with the #SLPeeps.

Another one of the highlights from the convention was hearing Dr. Maya Angelou speak at the opening session. Her powerful storytelling inspired me professionally and personally. She compared SLPs and AUDs to rainbows in the clouds. A rainbow speaks of promise and hope; I would like to think I can be that for my clients.  Her personal tale of selective mutism after a childhood trauma empowered me to always consider the perspective of my clients before jumping to conclusions.  She always had a story to tell; as Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, accepting and establishing trust can impact how much of their story a client decides to share.

(Katie is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers. These three bloggers were selected to blog about the ASHA Convention in exchange for complimentary registration. Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Katie Millican, B.S. Ed., is a second year graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of West Georgia (UWG). Katie is the current UWG local NSSLHA chapter President.  She is active with the #slpeeps and #slp2b on Twitter (@SLP_Echo) and on Pinterest, and she writes her own blog SLP_Echo: Just another SLP in the Making. Katie has a passion for using technology and sharing evidence-based ideas. 

Convention Must-Have: Twitter

I was really excited when I was selected to become an official ASHA blogger.  I blog anyway, so it was nice to get an official title.  I had planned on blogging a little everyday, but things have been crazy and before I know it, it’s time for bed.  I decided to go ahead and blog on Friday, the next to last day of the convention!

Throughout convention I kept hearing “how do you incorporate Twitter into therapy?” or “so how do you use Twitter?”  It seems there is either a lot of resistance to Twitter or people just really have no idea how to use it or how to get started.

Originally, I intended to write about my trip here, the sessions I attended, etc., but I think I’ll save that for later and instead write about Twitter.

I started my Twitter account about two or three years ago, around the time of my first ASHA Convention.  As much as I enjoyed the convention, I really didn’t socialize a lot or leave my hotel room other than to go  to sessions.   Through that convention, I started getting more involved in Twitter and started forming friendships there.

The 2011 convention was so much better having such a large group of friends to spend time with and share my ASHA Convention excitement.

This year has been a whole new experience.  I have a much larger group of friends, a really great roommate and amazing opportunities coming my way, all thanks to Twitter.   We had a great “Tweet up” this year with many new and familiar faces.  It’s always so nice to meet those people you’ve been talking to online.

How do I use Twitter?  I use it in so many different ways.   I ask and answer therapy questions through Twitter.  We have a whole network of SLPs called the #SLPeeps.  We have specialty people in various areas: literacy, fluency, technology, apps  and dysphagia.

I use Twitter to announce changes to my website, new blog posts, exciting news like earning my BRS-S, and to share links to videos or websites that I find relevant or interesting. I use it to share important information at ASHA from professional development sessions that I attend, or CEU events that I attend outside of ASHA.  If I find a really great session, I share that.  If I find a new product, I’m excited to talk about it and let others know.

So many people say they don’t have time for Twitter.  I can access Twitter on my phone and on my iPad, allowing me to post a Tweet any time of day.  I can post on Twitter in just a few minutes.  It’s really only as time-consuming as I allow it to be.

When I talk to people about Twitter, I tell them that’s it’s an excellent learning opportunity for me and a way that I have met many new friends that I may not have otherwise met.    I proudly wear my “I Tweet” and “#SLPeeps” ribbons on my badge and tell everyone who asks me about Twitter that it has been one of the most life-changing opportunities I have experienced.

(Tiffani is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers. These three bloggers were selected to blog about the ASHA Convention in exchange for complimentary registration. Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Tiffani Wallace,CCC-SLP, has been an SLP specializing in Dysphagia for over 11 years.  Tiffani has been very active in the social media world, creating 2 Facebook groups, Dysphagia Therapy Group and Dysphagia Therapy Group-Professional Edition.  Tiffani is also the co-author of the app Dysphagia2Go, available on iTunes.  She is preparing to travel nationally and speak on the topic of Dysphagia.  Tiffani writes a blog called Dysphagia Ramblings and is the author of www.dysphagiaramblings.com.  She is a 5 time ACE awardee and recently obtained her BRS-S.

If you are younger than 80 this post is for you

“Last call for Sunday dinner. If I don’t hear from you via FB or phone by  11 AM tomorrow I’ll take that as a no.”

Direct quote: My Grandma

Source: Facebook

My Grandma, Dee, is 76 years old. She unplugs the computer when it freezes  up (Dee, seriously, stop that). She always thinks someone is hacking her  account. She doesn’t want a phone with a camera. She is one of my most favorite humans on the Earth.

And…she Facebooks. She likes, comments, posts, tags, shares, LOLs, calls my mom her “BFF” -  she is a Facebook machine. A champion of Facebook, if you will.

76. Facebook. SEVENTY-SIX.

When ASHA-goers (who are younger than 76) have seen my “I Tweet” sticker it  has induced reactions of:

  • Camaraderie: “You tweet? Me too! What’s your handle?”
  • Judgment: “Oh. You tweet. (accompanied by ‘the face’)”
  • Awe: “You tweet? Coooool!”
  • Confusion: “You tweet. Whatsa tweet? Have I been twitting and didn’t know
    it?”

But they, and you, CAN TWEET! Among other things! It is not so hard! I PROMISE.

When I got on Facebook in 2006 it was about collecting friends, like Pogs or Pokemon (gotta catch ‘em all!). Who has the most friends? Who has the most tags?  Who likes the best bands? Who has the funniest quotes? – I think it has maintained that stigma so people have generalized this time-suck to ALL social media. This is an outdated view of social media, and it ages you when you act like you’ve never heard of “the Twitter.” While social media can still be used for silly, superficial functions (as well as being used to majorly creep on people), it and other sites, can be used for so much more.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, Hipster-Underground-Sites, blogs, ASHACommunity. These sites are used to facilitate sharing, educating, learning, AND (you CSD professionals should like this one!) COMMUNICATING.

Tonight in the West Terrace, Maggie McGary helped get all the #slpeeps and #audpeeps (people who use social media to share CSD information) in one place for the annual Tweetup. We didn’t do anything earth shattering, but it just goes to show that social media is slowly, but surely, proving that it can bring people together. As a profession we support communication and interaction! We are all coo-coo for cocoa puffs over apps and AAC. So why are we so scared of other technological avenues for communicating?

With the advent of smart phones, iPads, netbooks, wifi, and goodness knows what else – using social media is easy as a touch. With one finger. THE TIP OF ONE FINGER. A LIGHT TOUCH WITH THE TIP OF ONE FINGER.

I want to challenge all of you to use social media in SOME WAY this year. Advocate. Connect with your state or national associations. Advertise. Find a common ground with a client. Get to know an #slpeep. Share an interesting link. Then maybe next year we’ll see YOU at the Tweetup!

PS – I’m at the Hostel at Fifth and Market and I had 12 minutes of Internet. I wrote this by hand. OLD SCHOOL.

PPS- I’m addicted to ASHA. I’m never leaving. I will be continuing the conference after you all leave. You’re welcome to join me.

NP: I”ll Find a Hearing Aid for Ya

(Samantha is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Samantha Weatherford, B.A., is a second-year, speech-language pathology graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  She writes about speech-path and grad school on her blog, so to Speak. Does she think it is a coincidence that the first ever ASHA Convention was in St. Louis, MO, her beautiful hometown, and she chose to be an SLP? NOPE. FATE.

 

Getting in on the Conversation: Tips to Get Involved in Twitter

A man huddles in fear from a squawking flock of twitter birds.

Photo by petesimon

(This post originally appeared on Lexical Linguist)

In my first post about using social media for a professional learning network (PLN), I introduced various forms of online media (mostly social media) that can be used to help speech, language, and hearing professionals create their own professional/personal learning networks. I then introduced Twitter by explaining the terminology you’ll encounter and a bit about the way Twitter works. Mary Huston then guest blogged on her intro to Linked In and has more in store for you on that topic at a later date. Right now, however, I want to get back to Twitter, since it has been the richest source of professional learning and collaborating for me.

There are some things you can do in order to get into Twitter and start using it to its fullest potential. I have listed my top 10 tips to get the most out of your experience. Some of these tips speak to gaining followers, but I want to be clear that you should never get caught up in how many people follow you. Twitter should not be a competition for followers for several reasons, but the biggest is that WHO is in your network is much more valuable than HOW MANY are in your network. Having more people following you is helpful because it gives you access to more connections, information, and makes crowd sourcing (i.e. posing a question to your community in the attempt to get multiple responses) much easier. However, you get more bang for your buck connecting with people in your profession who will stimulate and challenge you. Besides, just because someone has many followers, doesn’t mean that those followers aren’t spam or random people who don’t contribute to the community.

Have a real picture (called an avatar)

This picture doesn’t have to be of you, per se, although it is very helpful. The picture should, however, convey some sense of you to your followers. Please, please, PLEASE never leave the Twitter default egg as your avatar. You come off looking like spam or worse (not that there’s much worse than spam). I also consider it poor Twitter etiquette because you require your followers to be more vigilant about whether or not you are spam when you contribute to discussions. If you want to get more followers, ditch the egg.

Say something in your profile and give us a real name

This is especially important if you are using Twitter professionally in any capacity. I would say that lack of information in the ‘profile’ section is the number one reason I won’t follow people. Mainly, it’s because I don’t know if you’re worth following if I don’t know what you do or who you are. A brief description (e.g. ‘grad student in audiology’ or ‘SLP working in schools’) helps people to know who you are and why they should bother following you. I also suggest you include at least a general location such as province/state and country. It’s also nice if you can include your real first name (last name is more optional) so that people have a ‘real’ name to attach to you beyond your twitter handle.

Create a short, user- friendly handle

When you create your Twitter name, or handle, you should consider that people will hopefully be using it a lot. The best possible handle is your real name (e.g. @LNLeigh) or your first or last name with your job title (e.g. @SLPTanya). Please avoid long names when possible because your name takes away characters when people include it in tweets. Also, avoid strange characters like underscore or symbols at all costs – it is less user-friendly to type. Your handle, picture, and profile can work together to give people a flavor for yourself on Twitter (called branding). Give this some thought when setting them up. If you already have a Twitter handle and would like to change it, this is easily done. As an aside: if you are a speech therapist/pathologist, please avoid the word ‘speech’ in your handle – this has been flooded in our ‘market’.

Start tweeting

If you want to get into the game and start connecting with people you MUST start tweeting. Even if you have no followers and feel you are ‘talking to yourself’ you should be tweeting. Tweet relevant material such as links you found interesting and professional ideas or experiences you may have had. Before I follow someone, I usually check their previous tweets to see if they are ‘worth following’. A ready-made community such as the SLPeeps does allow for some leeway but signing up on the SLPeeps and Audiologists Twitter List will not automatically get you plugged into the community. At the time of writing this blog post, the audiologists do not yet have a centralized hashtag (that I can find) such as #SLPeeps to help create a cohesive community so it may be more difficult to plug yourself into that network without relevant tweets.

Retweet (RT) people

The BEST way to get people to notice you and to begin participating in the community is to retweet someone else. I frequently become aware of a new person worth following because they RTed me. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll be followed, but it certainly helps show your willingness to join the community. As I’ve said in a previous post, retweeting is very important to Twitter and RTing someone demonstrates to them that you are genuinely interested in their ideas and information, so much so that you feel it’s worth sharing again via RT.

Jump in on conversations (politely)

Twitter is a public forum so treat it like a party or giant convention room and join in on conversations at leisure. It’s not considered ‘rude’ to jump into a conversation, so long as you’re on topic and contributing to the conversation. You may want to start your first tweet with “butting in” to acknowledge you’re joining the conversation if you rarely tweet with the other tweeters, more as an introduction that you’ve joined. It’s also OK to just throw a link or resource that’s on-topic into the conversation and walk away again, although it’s better if you converse a little or acknowledge any tweets in response to your contribution. It is rude to bud into a conversation thread to plug your company, blog or similar in a random way, especially if you aren’t contributing to the conversation.

Tweet more than blog or company promotional tweets

It’s just not helpful to the community and in a social network, while networking is important, so is the social aspect. This means there must be give and take or sharing involved. If you are using Twitter SOLELY as a professional outlet for your company and your handle, profile, and picture proclaim this as such, it’s potentially OK. This is because people know what to expect when they follow you. However, I still urge you to participate in related discussions and provide tweets that go beyond promoting your company. @CASLPA is a great example of a ‘company Twitter account’ who also engages the related community. CASLPA is a professional organization that uses social media to maximize potential to connect with their members (and even their non-members). It’s the ‘social’ or relationship part that makes them so great at what they are doing on twitter.

Use hashtags to get noticed by people who aren’t following you

If someone is following a specific hashtag (e.g. #SLPeeps, #hearing, #slpchat, #audiology) they will see all tweets that include that hashtag (unless the person tweeting has protected their tweets). The #SLPeeps hashtag is probably the primary reason that SLPs on Twitter have been able to come together, grow, and create a very cohesive community. I often find people worth following because they tweeted with the #SLPeeps tag. Also, using tags appropriate to your conversation makes it easier to crowd source for information before you’ve amassed very many followers. You can add #SLPeeps to your tweet, for instance, and anyone following the #SLPeeps tweets will see your tweet as well, even if they aren’t following you.

Be unprotected (at least at the start)

Again, I can’t emphasize how important it is to keep your tweets public in order to develop your PLN. Many people won’t bother trying to follow you if your tweets are protected because they cannot see examples of what you’re tweeting. Also, it’s a hassle to request to follow and then ‘wait and see’ to add you to a list they may have created to make following certain types of groups easier (more on lists another time). Protecting your tweets may have its place, but when growing a PLN it is a hindrance rather than a help.

Engage with your network

People who contribute meaningfully to the community get followed. It’s as simple as that. This means put out tweets, join in on conversations, pose questions to your community and respond to tweets that mention you or are directed at you. Even when you have many people following you it’s best to make every effort to respond to people if they direct information or a question at you specifically. You need to be contributing to your PLN in order to grow it and gain value from it.

Don’t just take my word for it. Here are some other sources if you want to see more:

Follow Fail: Top 10 reasons I won’t follow you in return on Twitter

20 Twitter Tips for New and Experienced Tweeters

Tanya Coyle, M.Sc., S-LP(C), is a speech-language pathologist employed in schools in Southern Ontario, Canada, and also teaches part time at a local college. Tanya is a life-long learner who actively networks with other SLPs via social networking, is co-founder and co-moderator of the #SLPChat discussion groups on Twitter, and is co-founder of the SLPeeps Resource Share and SLP Goal Bank in Google Docs (if you’d like to be granted access to these documents you can contact Tanya on Twitter @SLPTanya. Tanya is also the author of the Lexical Linguist blog.