Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tweet Me!

This past February, the Pew Internet and American Life Project put out a report on Twitter users.
"For many Twitter users, learning about and sharing relevant and recent nuggets of information is a primary utility of the service. While Twitter users are just as likely as others to consume news on any given day, they are more likely to consume it on mobile devices and less likely to engage with news via more traditional outlets."
So Twitter’s simple explanation of its service as posting “answers to one simple question: 'What are you doing?'” is an oversimplification. Twitter is being used for more than posting a simple status update.

Instead, Twitter has become a way for many to build and connect to their Personal Learning Network (PLN). Edublogger, writer, and presenter David Warlick has spent a great deal of time reflecting on this phenomenon. Warlick writes,
"…new techniques for organizing digital networked information have enabled us to fashion new kinds of networks that extend far beyond our immediate location and face-to-face connections, and to grow our networks based not on explicit decisions, but through the ideas of other nodes (people and resources), whose ideas intersect with ours."
Twitter has not only expanded where and how we find resources, but who we go to for that information and when we can do it. As the Pew study indicates, Twitter is being used to find and share information anywhere and everywhere. Whether we are in the classroom and want to connect our students with those from around the world, or standing in line at the coffee shop wondering how to define a PLN, Twitter is helping teachers forge connections and collaborate with those in our field. And in most cases, it is instantaneous. Take a look at the response Dr. Couros received when he posted a tweet about Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). If I need feedback on a lesson, I can tweet a link and have feedback from all over the world within just a few minutes. Which is why every teacher should be twittering!

For those educators new to Twitter, I’ve posted some links below. You’ll also find this information on the WardsWorld wiki.

Check out this explanation of Twitter in Plain English, or learn about Twitter from one of its creators, Evan Williams. Blogger Rafe Needleman also writes about Twitter in his article on CNet titled "Newbie's Guide to Twitter." In the article, Needleman outlines some of the basics of the Twitter service:
  • Twitter is an online service designed to connect you with a group of friends called “followers” through short (140 character limit) messages.

  • You select the friends you want to follow.

  • You set your privacy limit for how much others are able to see.

  • Twitter is a way to connect with others, whether they are people you know or people who share a similar interest with you that you meet through the service.

  • Needleman writes, “Twitter is useful for close-knit groups. If you follow your friends, and they follow each other, you can quickly communicate group-related items, such as ‘I'm going to the pub on Fourth Street, come on along.’ …If you enter items into Twitter, they can be private, so only friends you've authorized can see them. Items can also be made public, which means anyone who knows your Twitter ID can read and subscribe to them.”

  • And the best part? Twitter is free.
Check out this fabulous article titled “Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter.” The article links to some great resources, including
  • The blog AcademHacK has a wonderful list of potential uses in the classroom.

  • I’m collecting all sorts of ideas for using Twitter in schools. Follow my list of links on Delicious -

  • Ron Jones put together a great list of uses in his article “Using Twitter as an Educational Tool.” He mentions educators who have used Twitter to create notes for a conference or even a specific class using hashtags, teach grammar, and even write collaborative stories.

  • “George Mayo, an eighth grade English teacher at Silver Spring International Middle School in Montgomery County, Maryland, recently used Twitter as a tool to collaboratively write a story by his students. Mayo invited his students and students around the world via his Many Voices Twitter account to add to an ongoing story with individual ‘tweets.’ After six weeks and the help of more than 100 students and six different countries, the story was finished… Afterward he made the book available for his students to download for free.”


Carla said...

Thanks for including me in your list and for your kind words about Web English Teacher! This is a wonderful explanation of Twitter -- mind if I share it?

Jennifer Ward said...

I love your site and have passed it along to everyone in my department. Thanks for putting together such an amazing resource! And, of course, please feel free to share this post. Thank you!

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