Twitter

What is Twitter?



Twitter is a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates (usually 140 characters) and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user.



Twitter for Learning?

  • Share ideas, experiences, news and links.
  • Follow experts, subjects or learning domains.
  • Follow/Create course/topic related #hashtags.
  • Build learning communities.
  • Chunked perfectly for mobile learning.
  • Conversational learning beyond the classroom.

Examples



 



How?
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First, you need to make sure that all your students are using, or have a Twitter account. Most students should have little difficulty (especially X, Y and Z generations) with signing up for Twitter by themselves. To avoid any hassles, I would recommend that you specify in your course plan/guide that you will be using Twitter as one of the learning tools for the course.

As Twitter is a perfect communication tool for mobile devices (e.g. IPhones, Blackberries, Androids, IPads, smart phones, and notebooks), you only need to ensure a decent Wi-Fi enabled environment, and most, if not all students can participate during a face-to-face learning session. If not, let's imagine and be a bit futuristic, because in 2-3 years time, I believe most students will have some form of Wi-Fi enabled mobile device (Well, at least at Universities in Malaysia). No rocket science required to come that prediction.

Secondly, you need to establish a unique hashtag (#) for your course, which will make it easier for your students (and you) to follow and participate in the course conversation. If it becomes really active, it will evolve into one enriching and inspiring learning stream (e.g. #plenk2010). However, some students might prefer getting daily updates in the form of a sizzling self-organized online newspaper. paper.li could do that without you basically doing anything, except for signing up and feeding it your hashtag (e.g. PLENK2010). Awesome!



To promote the usage of Twitter and your unique course hashtag (e.g. #plenk2010), you might also want to create a video tutorial (e.g. using Screenr). Here is an example, where I promoted the usage of Twitter during the ICEL 2010 conference using the '#icel5' hashtag:


Besides starting and facilitating a Twitter learning stream, you will probably want to capture and archive the evolving learning conversation, which could sadly get lost over time (Done that, been there!). For that, you could for example use Twapper Keeper.

If you are too busy or quite IT illiterate, and still want to use Twitter for your course, ask someone from your University/College's e-learning (or educational technology) team to conduct a Twitter session with the students. If they are not capable of that (or lazy), they should (all) be fired on the spot! Learning has evolved since the Courseware development era!!!!

Here are a few tips on facilitating the use of Twitter for classroom learning:

  • BEFORE CLASS
    Before every Face-to-face learning session you might want to encourage students to ask questions regarding the upcoming topic/module/lesson, or perhaps what kind of expectations they have, or even what they really want to learn, and suggest things to discuss. By doing so, you might get a clearer view of what really matters to students, and as a result your learning session might evolve into a sizzling learning experience. If students prefer sharing and discussing in private, you could use GroupTweet instead of a hashtag (which can be viewed by public). GroupTweet helps groups communicate privately via Twitter.

  • DURING CLASS
    Twitter is an excellent venue for students to ask the lecturer questions during the learning session, especially if you are in a large lecture hall (200+ students), and the student is a bit shy. To keep track of the flow of questions visually (for everyone to see), you could use Monitter or Hootcourse (or even TweetDeck), which will update as soon as the tweet (question) has been posted.
    Hootcourse's Classroom Mode feature allows course tweets to show up in real-time on a projected screen.

    Besides using Twitter for questions, you could even conduct polls (use Twtpoll, Poll Everywhere, or SAP Web 2.0) during the class, and the results can even be displayed live in your PowerPoint presentation (or the web. Yes, even in Keynote, too!). Lecturer's love to ask students, "Do you understand? Is it clear?", and everyone says 'Yes' loudly (or silently with a nod). And the lecturer feels comforted with his masterful lecture. Sadly, the truth might indicate otherwise, and by using a poll, we could more easily gauge whether students understand or not, with some real stats to refer to. We could basically test them directly in class on something, and then if for example the majority is clueless of the right answer, we could revisit that component, and explore simpler ways to explain and inspire them to learn it. Now that is cool for learning! 

  • AFTER CLASS
    We could ask them to tweet questions after class regarding what they have learned, or related things they would like to be clarified. Also, we should encourage students to answer other students questions, and by providing some incentive for the most active students (e.g. bonus marks, praise, or perhaps a Mars bar), should not be so hard to do. Also, you might want to ask students to provide short comments on how the learning session was, and how it can be improved further. If your ego is receptive to constructive (and destructive) feedback, you are going to win the next 'Best Lecturer Award', trust me! Anyway, we lecturers are noble people, and the reward of experiencing students' learn, or getting those 'AHA' moments are awesome rewards in themselves that even money can't buy (Well, it depends!).


 These are just a few possibilities for using Twitter to enhance your face-to-face learning sessions, and of course sizzle it beyond the classroom. I hope you realize by now why Twitter is the number one ranked learning tool among learning professionals around the world.


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Other Twitter Tools?
  • TinyURL
    It shortens long URLs to tiny URLs that hat will not break in email postings and never expires.
  • bit.lyAllows users to shorten, share, and track links (URLs). Reducing the URL length makes sharing easier.
  • TweetDeck
    Is your personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook and more. TweetDeck shows you everything you want to see at once, so you can stay organised and up to date.
  • Twitter Search
    There is an undeniable need to search, filter, and otherwise interact with the volumes of news and information being transmitted to Twitter every second. Twitter Search helps you filter all the real-time information coursing through their service.
  • GroupTweet
    Is designed for Twitter users who want to be able to communicate and collaborate privately. It allows groups to send messages via Twitter that are instantly broadcast privately to only the team members.
  • Facebook-Twitter Application
    Integrate Twitter with your Facebook account: Your tweets will update your Facebook status.
  • Twitbacks
    Create (or customize) free Twitter backgrounds. Cool!
  • TwitterCounter
    Twitter stats and followers. Twitter top 100.
  • TweetMeme
    Is a service which aggregates all the popular links on twitter to determine which links are popular. Tweetmeme is able to categorize these links into categories and subcategories, making it easy to filter out the noise to find what your intrested in.
  • TwitterFeed
    ... feed your blog or social bookmarking (delicious) posts to twitter, identi.ca, HelloTxt or Ping.fm.
  • Twitpic
    Share photos on Twitter.
  • #hashtags
    What's happening right now on twitter. Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They're like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.
  • StrawPoll
    Tiny polls in 140 characters or less. Ask your question, then track with the new StrawPoll Platform, you can use your own Twitter account to ask the questions you find interesting.
  • Poll Everywhere
    Replaces expensive proprietary audience response hardware with standard web technology. It's the easiest way to gather live responses in any venue: conferences, presentations, classrooms, radio, tv, print — anywhere. It can help you to raise money by letting people pledge via text messaging. Its simplicity and flexibility are earning rave reviews.
  • Screenr
    Create screencasts for your followers as easily as you tweet. Just click the record button and you'll have your ready-to-tweet screencast in seconds.
  • Topsy
    Is a search engine powered by tweets. Topsy sees the Internet as a stream of conversations. Topsy treats people differently from the webpages they create and the things they say. And Topsy sees that people in every community are connected in a web of relationships, where each person influences other people to read, talk and think about things. 

MORE TIPS?