I recently was asked what my favourite Web 2.0 application was. It did not take me a lot of time to share an answer. The Web 2.0 application that I find myself going to each and every day is Twitter. Twitter is at the heart of my Personal Learning Network … and here is why:
First and foremost, I have learned that Twitter is really all about building relationships. In the context of these relationships, I have learned that there are people who have expressed an interest in me and what I am involved in – what I am doing, what I am learning, my ideas, and my questions. Twitter provides me with a simple forum to share with them.
Twitter has also allowed me to strengthen my connections with peers that I might only see a few times a year (such as conferences). In the years BT (before Twitter), there were a handful of colleagues who I would only see a few times a year. Unless circumstances allowed, there was very little chance for me to get to know these people beyond the professional level. Twitter has provided the opportunity to grow our professional and social relationship …. despite the limit of 140 characters.
As my relationships with peers have grown stronger through Twitter, my experience at the various events, meetings, conferences has also become richer. Each meeting has also become an opportunity to meet with some of my fellow tweeps face to face. These meetings have served to increase the overall value of the event itself.
Twitter allows me to participate (virtually) at many meetings, conferences and events that I am not able to physically attend. Like many people, my schedule does not allow me to attend each and every professional development opportunity in person. However, I can count on those who do attend to tweet the ideas, questions and discussions using an appropriate ‘hashtag’. When I am able to, I can search for the hashtag and catch the hi-lights. There are even times when the backchannel has more to teach me than the actual sessions.
Twitter allows me connect with a much larger circle of educators – many of whom I would never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. Through Twitter I have had the opportunity to meet and share with educators from around the world. We are joined by our common interests and are connected through Twitter.
Twitter allows me learn from all of the people in my learning network as they share what they are learning – news, ideas, questions, comments, reflections on blog entries. The people I follow on Twitter are people who are asking the same questions I am. They are sharing the answers they are finding. I find it a privilege to read their tweets and learn from them.
Twitter extends my connections around the world and is available to me 24/7 so I can grow as a learner on my time when I am available. I do not recommend that a person spend all of their time on Twitter. I visit the Twitter stream when I am able. It does not matter when that it is. The Twitter stream runs continuously.
Twitter allows me to filter (and focus) my learning through features such as saved searches and lists. I agree that there is so much on Twitter and it could be overwhelming. I also agree that a great deal of information (celebs etc) could be trivial. However, using some simple filtering techniques, I am able to become selective with the tweets that I am reviewing.
While I am not personally in the classroom, I have also heard of a number of teachers who are using Twitter as a tool for learning in their classrooms. I would love to hear (so I can share with others) how some are using Twitter in the classroom.
Twitter is incredibly simple to use. But I have found it to be a very powerful tool for learning.
FTW … Harry (aka @harryniezen )