Twitter Tool Could Help Educators


A new Twitter program called Need4Feed was introduced this week by web developers at Purdue University to rank posts— known as “tweets”—on the social networking site. Designed specifically for educators and students, Need4Feed aims to filter out the “noise” of unrelated tweets and help visitors weed out the junk mail, by highlighting popular tweets using an algorithm that analyzes how other Twitter users respond to a message by reposting it, replying to it, marking it as a favorite or whether the message starts a longer conversation.

This tool will be used for the first time at the HighEdWeb 2009 conference in Milwaukee to help attendees find tweets gaining the most attention. The goal of Need4Feed is to help facilitate faculty-student conversations and help educators and students more effectively locate information regarding education trends and homework help or tips. Technology is always evolving and Twitter’s growth is proof of this. For k-12 and higher education institutions to stay current, they will need to embrace these new technologies and Need4Feed just may help them do that.

Need4Feed developer Kyle Bowen, director of informatics at Purdue, said the idea for the tool came after using Twitter to communicate during the Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference at Purdue in April. “We made heavy use of Twitter during the conference, and what we noticed was that there was a lot of noise, people making general comments and having conversations unrelated to the topic,” Bowen said. “What we wanted to do was find a way to get the most out of these back channel conversations.”

To find out more about education trends, follow LifeBound on Twitter at and to learn more about preparing your students for the world of work, follow me at


The micro-blogging web site Twitter is often crowded with extraneous posts and comments that distract from the site’s meaningful content. To bring order to this chaos and help make Twitter a more useful tool for educators, web developers at Purdue University unveiled a tool this week that would help Twitter members find the most popular and relevant tweets.

The Twitter program, called Need4Feed, is being used for the first time at the HighEdWeb 2009 conference in Milwaukee, where attendees can sift through hundreds of posts to find the tweets grabbing the most attention.

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