Tweet while you speak

December 14, 2012

Are you freaked out by distracting tweets while you’re giving a speech or lecturing? Introducing a new free iPad app called Backdraft.

The app, developed by Purdue University for its instructors, allows speakers to write tweets in advance and release them at appropriate moments during a talk by double tapping on the Tweet. The messages may contain links, photos or video clips to provide additional information about the subject.

Kyle Bowen, director of informatics in Information Technology at Purdue, says that, rather than distracting the audience, the app helps the speaker keep the audience focused.

“There has always been a backchannel during speeches and lectures, either through whispered comments or passing notes, and Twitter opens up this backchannel to the world,” Bowen says. “Using Backdraft allows the speaker to not only control the room, but also to have some control over the backchannel conversation at the same time.”

Backdraft is one of seven classroom mobile apps created by the Purdue Studio project. The apps can be used by instructors or students to enhance the traditional classroom experience. Some previous apps included Passport, which allows instructors to give students digital badges for accomplishments; Hotseat, which allows instructors to easily incorporate Twitter and text messages into their class discussion; and, Mixable, which allows students to create private online study groups within Facebook.