Category Archives: Technology

A couple years ago we came up with the idea to create a bunch of world leader twitter accounts that students could Twitter for as part of their grade for the world regions class. Most of the world leaders are titled Plaid_lastname. You can see a list of them here, we’re now up to 152 accounts!

A couple have gotten attention before – our Dimtry Medvedev got a lot of followers after the real Medvedev visited Twitter headquarters and sign up, but then didn’t use him name – he used KremlinRU.

Also Muammar Gaddafi has been featured on a list of funny tweets from fake world leaders.

Our Abdullah Gul account has over 13,000 follows – the most of any!

So on January 2, 2011 Rupert Murdoch joined Twitter and decided to follow 4 people – Jack Dorsey, Mark Pincus, Lord Sugar and our very own Larry Page class account (@Plaid_Page)

I friend informed me on Twitter of his follow and I soon after logged in as Plaid Page and sent Rupert this tweet:


Here is his response (one of 2 @replies thus far)

Our Page account has gained over 1500 new followers in the last 24 hours and quite a few news stories have mentioned how Murdoch is follow a fake Larry Page account.

BBC: News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch joins Twitter social network.
“Mr Murdoch also follows Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, Twitter’s executive chairman Jack Dorsey, and a spoof account purporting to be from Google’s chief executive Larry Page.”

Financial Times: Media tycoon Murdoch takes to Twitter 
““I’m getting killed for fooling around here and friends frightened what I may really say!” Mr Murdoch said in reply to a tweet from a spoof account pretending to be Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, inviting him to join the search company’s nascent social network, Google+.”

CNN: Media mogul Murdoch joins Twitter
“Among other tweets by Murdoch, who also follows Google co-founder Larry Page, Silcon Valley entrepreneur and British businessman Alan Sugar, were an expression of support for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum.”

ZDNet: Rupert Murdoch starts tweeting; Twitterverse returns heavy fire
“ZDNet UK columnist Jack Schofield questioned why Murdoch is only following four people, including a “Fake Larry Page”.”

We’ll see how long he keeps on following our Page account, and lasts on Twitter as whole….


Wow what a week we had in World Regions at Virginia Tech! We got to Skype with Aung San Suu Kyi the Noble Peace Prize winner and leader for democracy in Burma. After much back and forth and finally getting her to see the video of our request she agreed to Skype with us. But it actually didn’t go down that smoothly…

On Sunday night, the night before we were suppose to Skype with her, there was some confusion with another university requesting a chat and we were told by her handlers that we were not on the schedule. Boyer and I proceed to freak out – obviously. And this is like 11pm at night before its suppose to go down and we’ve got the room reserved and press alerted, etc. Boyer writes a heart felt letter on how we’re all set up and the students are very excited… and we wait for a response, and wait…

I think it was about 1am when they agreed that she could Skype with us, hooray! They did want to have a test at 6am our time though, which was on me! So after a few short hours of sleep I was up at 5:45 sitting on my couch wearing a VT hoodie ready to test. The guy I chatted with was her tech guru, my age and wearing a Stanford University t-shit in a room that looked like any college dorm room – awesome. Everything worked on our ends and we were ready for that nights chat with Aung San Suu Kyi.

As usually I was there really early getting stuff set up in Burruss. We had a laptop on boxes on top of a cart right next to the screen so the camera would pick up the person asking the question and the audience behind. We were all set up with the audio and video connections working – I then unplugged them around 15 minutes before the chat when Aung San Suu Kyi people called on Skype. I was using my headphones to talk with them, coordinating the time on our end and theres (morning for them). Their camera has been on themselves and after we had everything running, focused on an empty couch with a painting of Aung San behind it. As I’m staring at the screen (with no one else around me) I see Aung San Suu Kyi sit down and them start to adjust her mic. Ahh! Tears totally formed in my eyes, this is so amazing!

We then started the Skype, Boyer introduced her and had the students do a chant of democracy and then waited for her response…and no volume. Eek! No sure what happened but the head phone jack on the laptop just stopped worked. Maybe it didn’t like being switched back and forth from headphones to room speakers. Either way we had her hang up and call and back and still not work….so we did the next best thing and I held a mic up to the laptops speakers! Hey it worked!

All and all she is a amazing, eloquent, dedicated women and I was honored to have listened to her and seen her via Skype. The students asked some amazing questions and it was great to see some students originally from Burma get so excited and emotional to have the chance to speak with her. I think the students were generally moved and I checked out #wrvt twitter hashtag later and saw some amazing comments.

Here is the recording from our camera that night:

Professor Disrupting Lecture Hall with Best Use of Skype Ever

In addition to his YouTube videos, Professor Boyer also maintains a course website and holds weekly office hours with his students using AIM and UStream. He frequently communicates course news and events through his Facebook page and Twitter account, and he and assistant Katie Pritchard actively uses the #wrvt hashtag for backchannel communication with his super-sized class.

Usually Boyer gets all the press but I actually got a mention in the article from EdTech Digest. I don’t mind being the tech side kick running things in the background, but it’s nice getting a mention every once in a while ;)







Love these quotes from The Chronicle of Higher Education and the post from Nov 6, 2011 entitled “How Technology Can Improve Online Learning—and Learning in General

Rather than debating whether classroom education is better than online education, we should be looking for ways to use technology to improve the overall quality of higher education.

Totally agree! That’s part of what my job is at Virginia Tech working for John Boyer and his class of 3000 – finding new technologies and finding ways that can be used to help teach the course, either through better communication or new ways to increase participation in class or better learning in general.

Technology has fundamentally changed the productivity of every industry in America except education.

Completely agree with this as well. Lecture halls look the same as they did a century ago and the format is the same: one “smart” person up front lecturing and giving their information to students.