Twitter as a teaching and learning tool

Last week, we looked at the giant social networking site Twitter as part of our course into looking at Web 2.0 for education of both teachers and pupils within the classroom. I have never actually used Twitter before so it was an interesting experience to say the least. I am well used to the idea of social media and Web 2.0 in general but not this site. It was very similar to others with regards to signing up and beginning with a header, a profile picture and a small biography to let people know who you were and what you were trying to accomplish. In other words, it was very simple and something that anyone could use whether you were “tech savvy” or not. The simplicity of set up would most definitely work in favour of using it as an educational tool for both students and adults and therefore make it perfect for using it in a classroom or school.

Once you actually begin using the site, it is a quick and efficient way of saying something quickly; whether it’s a resource or a thought on something. You only have one hundred and forty characters to work with so it’s forcing you to keep it simple and straight to the point. This can be advantageous when you want to say something that may be of importance but you don’t have a lot of time to type all of the information up. This idea carries over onto my next point which is you can “tweet” from anywhere. You can do it at home, at school, in your car, in the park, while you’re on holidays; practically anywhere. You can log in from anywhere and talk about anything.

While your own profile is important while learning and teaching, others profiles are just as important. The amount of new information that can come onto your dashboard is amazing, even after following just a few people. You can begin by following a few people and from that you can see who they follow and who follows them. If who you are following tweets about what you are interested in, then who they are following may be of similar interest to you. The more people you follow, the more interesting and precise information you are going to receive from them. If you think what others are talking about is important enough to be seen by those who follow you, then you can reblog or retweet it so that it appears on their newsfeeds too. They can then go on to follow those who originally tweeted it so it is of benefit to everybody.

I am still in the very early stages of using Twitter as an academic tool for learning with regards to both teachers and students. There are many benefits to a site like this and I think it has great promise as an educational tool. Of course there are downsides to it too as it is a social media site and one of the most public at that which may not be tempting for many who are still not using it. However, the positives that I have mentioned above may try to counteract the negatives that may arise when using this site. I will blog more about it when we come to using it more often.


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