Last week, I ran into two mentions for the ShoutEm Microblogging platform, which allows you to create a sheltered “Twitter” of sorts in which people in your Shout network can post short 140-character pieces. I suggested one of my friends over in the National Writing Project Network create a network to play with, and she did, and I have been playing around as a member of that site (and trying to get other NWP folks involved). I’m not sure we have enough folks using our experimental site to make complete judgments yet.
Here are some thoughts so far:
- ShoutEm is easy to use as it mimics Twitter quite a bit. Just write and post and you are connected.
- I love that you can easily share links and that screenshots of most the linked sites are shown automatically. This is a great feature and a nice design.
- I don’t see any advertising (yet) but I know from the ShoutEm site that creators of the sites can try to make money that way. That would turn me off.
- It’s free.
- When you reply to someone’s shout, the replies are threaded, making it easy to track a conversation.
- There are ways to “subscribe” to another person, but I have not figured out just what the heck that is all about, since I think I see all posts anyway on the homepage.
- I believe the entire stream can be embedded into another site, allowing you to have a backchannel of sorts for folks to use around an idea.
- I keep thinking of the comparison to a Ning network, for some reason. Perhaps because both allow you to set up niche communities. And Shoutem can be integrated easily enough (they say) with a Ning site.
Which brings me to the crucial point: Is ShoutEm a possibility for the classroom?
Not for me, likely, because our kids don’t have email accounts but I do see some potential for ShoutEm with students. You could have a site set up for discussions around a reading issue (like a blog but on an easier micro scale) or other topics.
Or, I stumbled across this project called TwitterKids, which connected a group of students from Africa with the world through the use of Twitter. I was fascinated by the possibilities of that kind of global connections and thought: ShoutEm might be the way to go for a similar kind of project. You could set up your own microblogging platform for a project, which would keep it sheltered but viable.
Anyway, here is a video overview of ShoutEm and if you create your own experimental network, let me know. I am always up for posting a few thoughts.
Peace (in the micro),