Tweet while you speak with Purdue's Backdraft iPad app

December 13, 2012  

Backdraft iPad app

A new iPad app lets public speakers or college lecturers tweet while they are speaking. Backdraft, which was created by Purdue University, allows speakers to create Twitter messages before their talk and then release them with a double-tap as they speak. (Purdue University image/Michele Rund)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Modern public speakers and college lecturers are sometimes bedeviled by comments and chatter posted on Twitter while they are speaking. Now speakers can engage in the conversation even while they are standing at the podium with a new, free iPad app called Backdraft.

The app, which was developed by Purdue University for its instructors, allows speakers to write Twitter messages, or tweets, and release them at appropriate moments during a talk. 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, a new app for the iPad, gives public speakers and college instructors the ability to join backchannel Twitter conversations about their talk while they are still speaking.  (Purdue University image/Michele Rund)
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To use the app, speakers write their tweets before their presentation and then release them during the talk by double tapping on the Tweet. Because Twitter messages can contain links, photos or video, speakers have the ability to deliver information and media directly to their audience. Users can also save messages they've used for previous presentations within the app by using hashtags.

Backdraft has already been named a top mobile app by the U.K.'s The Guardian newspaper's Stuart Dredge. "Yep: livetweet YOUR OWN conference presentations," Dredge wrote, "which could be fun if you don't tell your audience how you're doing it."

Backdraft is available for free download for the iPad through Apple iTunes store.

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.

Writer: Steve Tally, 765-494-9809,, Twitter: sciencewriter

Sources: Kyle Bowen, 765-496-7486,, Twitter: @kyledbowen

Michele Rund, 765-494-5791,

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