Friday, December 5, 2008

Twitter for Education

In considering recent social networking trends and the newest/best learning technologies that have emerged in 2008, I'll admit that I'm still a bit mystified by Twitter. Despite my slight reluctance to sign up for yet another social networking site (me and some of my friends are, at times, experiencing social networking fatigue), several months ago I signed up for my own Twitter account.

Yes, I find Twitter addictive, and sometimes I like having instant gratification when seeing immediate updates on what my friends and colleagues are thinking and doing. So far, one of the best descriptions of Twitter was in a post by Donald Clark. He points to many divergent views on Twitter (indeed, his post is a great collection of some of the views on the topic), and I like his reference to Jay Cross's analysis in "the points of tweets." Cross makes analogies between info patterns in Twitter and pointillist art. He explains that "[u]p close it can be meaningless. Back away and a pattern emerges" -- individual twitterers and "tweets" may not seem significant, the overall pattern of information becomes valuable (e.g., twitter patterns about the US election, etc.). People "pipe" into this information through Yahoo!, and I can see how this would have information mapping possibilities galore.

Even the Wall Street Journal has an overview of the technology in article on "Twitter 101." Tim O'Reilly lists his favourites things about Twitter, and others are thinking about how Twitter applies to areas like Healthcare. I feel some relief that I'm not the only one struggling with the true educational value of Twitter (see Tony Karrer's post on the subject, and his articulation of similar ambivilance to Twitter). I like Twitter, but can anyone tell me how this really an educational tool, any moreso than a email or facebook?

1 comment:

Anne Marie said...

Hello Erika
Great to find your blog. I can't really see the advantages of twitter at the moment either. And I'm also not so taken in by Tim O#Reilly's take on it. For many it seems about self-promotion. People have thousands of followers... and if they follow them as well they can't possibly keep up so they edit the settings with Tweetdeck. I don't understand it fully but I know this doesn't really help us much in education. Some seem to see it as a more acceptable form of RSS for the techno-scared. But I can't manage to get it to do that usefully.
I have saved to papers from eastern Europe about educational uses in my delicious account.... my username is wishfulthinker. Have a look there:)