Twitter for Learning


I awoke this morning and headed over to my Twitter account to see what had happened overnight.  I see posts from some friends in Australia, Europe, and closer to home in Canada and the United States.  I always like to check out some of the internet links that people post to see if they would be the type that I would add to my Delicious account.


Image via Wikipedia

I smile because there are some links there that people “found” yesterday that I knew that I had already bookmarked.  Where were these people when they first came to our attention?  If we think of Twitter as a learning environment, the more I think about it, they probably just weren’t in class.

If we look at Twitter in the academic sense, it’s a marvelous classroom.  I remember back in High School, our school tried an experiment.  All of the scheduled classes were cancelled for a day and, instead, our teachers offered various seminars on topics of interest to them and we were invited to join any of them that interested us. Attendance at any of them was purely optional.  Now that I’m in education, I can appreciate what a risk that was.  Our school was in town and we could all just wandered off to the pool hall instead of participating.  Somehow, at least my group of friends, participated and had a great time learning things that wouldn’t have been part of the regular curriculum.  The feedback from our principal the next day was equally as positive.  Most people had taken advantage of the day.

As a learning environment, Twitter for me represents the very best of what we see in the current ideas about learning.  It is self-directed – you decide the where and what and if of your action.

Learning with Twitter is continuous intake.  We didn’t all start at the same time and place.  We jumped on board when it felt right.  We don’t learn face to face and synchronously.  We learn when we can.

Learning with Twitter is a friendly place to participate.  Nobody cares if you jump into the middle of a conversation.  In fact, it gets that much richer and more valuable the moment you get involved.

Learning with Twitter is only as good as your class.  Find out what you want to learn and choose your friends wisely!

Learning with Twitter is peer assessed.  If you are doing well, people start to follow you.  If you don’t contribute in a meaningful way, your number of followers remains the same or drops.

Learning with Twitter is, most importantly, totally directed by you.  I have one “class” of Ontario Educators that I follow daily.  I have another “class” of non-Ontario Educators who provide an incredible amount of insights from quite literally around the world.  It’s not all about computer, nerdy things.  Our learning takes us to all areas of the curriculum.  I also have one “class” that I’m auditing since it’s over my head.  This class is developing their own internet radio station and I’m along for the ride and listen to their shows when best I can.  My other class is essentially the lounge.  It’s just a variety of conversations with no particular direction.

But Twitter isn’t the ending place.  Be prepared to launch to a wiki or a ning or a newsgroup or other internet resource to continue the learning.

I like my classes; I like my classmates.  We participate when and where and how we’re able.  Sometimes it’s on a PC; sometimes on a Mac; sometimes on a Netbook; sometimes on a Blackberry; sometimes on a iPod; – it doesn’t really matter how or where.  As I type this, I’m in a hotel room in London, Ontario.  This afternoon I’ll be in Hamilton.  In both cases, I’m going to join my classmates and see what they’re offering up and if I can offer something back.

At this point, our class has room to expand and I hope that it does continue.  The more people involved; the more sides to the discussions and the richer the collaboration.

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