Archive for the ‘My Learning Journey’ Category

Are you twittering this?

June 26th, 2008 by Cristina Costa

Probably not… 🙂
However, twittering (links to) blog posts is only one of the many ways in which twitter has served me in the last months.

Twitter, a micro-blogging free online tool, has become incredibly popular among web users in the last few months. It has also entered the educational world and it is surprisingly bringing people together over 140 character messages. Is it a case to say less is more? Or is it just the way we have become?
The most amazing fact yet is not really the size of the messages, but how it enables information to flow and the narrative to grow. And oh boy, does it do so.

I must say I was a really bit sceptic about it at the beginning. I always am. I am never an early adopter. It takes time for me to get into things. It’s just a reflection of who I am, I guess. Rather than my finding the tool, I need the tool to find me [if this makes any sense at all…]. I will explain….
I can’t even remember when I first created my twitter account, but I do remember thinking about why I should have one. It was too limitative for someone like me who has very little synthesis capacity. It would just take me ages to write a 140 character message, and I wasn’t sure I was going to get much out of it. Furthermore, not many of my online friends were in twitter…yet! I immediately put twitter in my have-an-account-but-not-using-it-tool shelf. And it remained there for a while until Carla Arena and the Blogging 4 Educators team spiced up my curiosity about it once again.They were twittering and I started following them.I was fascinated by the amount of relevant information, bits of personal insights and also some trivial tweets that were arriving at my desktop in a twinkling of an eye. It was fun and most times relevant. I started seeing the point of it. Twitter had finally been able to reach out to me – or better said – the people who were using it. And so I decided to give it another try. I shyly started twittering, hoping no one would notice me (what could I actually offer in a 140 character message?). To my surprise, I started getting more used to it (you need to create online twitter habits!!). I got better at short messages. I have to use “short-cuts” most times – not very scholastic, but it does the trick!! 😉 I also started communicating with others via twitter. I noticed that there were also people who actually read my messages, as I was getting some @me tweets too. It is interesting how people communicate directly and indirectly with others by sharing links, responding to questions, providing additional insights and sometimes even guiding in alternative directions, which they also find useful. All of a sudden micro-communication was increasingly entering my world. Because I started following more people, more twitters also decided to follow me – I still haven’t figured out how selective people are about who they follow, but I have ended up even following some of those who my twitter-fellows follow because of the tweet-conversations they are following (confusing, ha?).  In this sense twitter has enabled me to enlarge my connections and networks [even if in a rather lurking way, as I tend to communicate, not exclusively, but more often with those who I already knew from other venues]. Micro-blogging has largely contributed to my learning.

There is of course many questions that arise from this new practice and means of communication, sharing, networking…learning. Yes, Learning. That no one can deny! Many of the hot issues around twitter relate to the literacy theme. Are we becoming lazy at writing? Will this type of discourse ill-influence our essays? Will it give little-johnny bad writing habits? Are we destroying the language?, etc.

Well, I don’t think so. I believe that in learning everything counts. We don’t learn only from the most sophisticated prose [I am even tempted to say that it is where it has less chances to happen, although it can help refine it]. We don’t speak the way we write, and we obviously won’t be using a twitter register when applying for a job, for instance, although you might get to know about your future job through twitter!!
Different contexts call for different registers. It has always been like this, I don’t think it’s going to change now.  So, I have a hard time understanding why we should be so concerned or see it as an evil practice which will ruin the kids’ writing capacity.

Okay, I am being quite ironic now, but the fact is that in our daily lives we all express ourselves differently from the way we develop an academic speech, for example. By the same token we adopt different speech tones according to our target audience.
It doesn’t mean however that we don’t gain something from all the different situations we get involved in. We just have to be flexible and understand the differences of the several contexts in which we have a presence. Twitter is just one more application to add to the panoply of others means of micro and instant communication which make us reinvent the way we get our ideas across and interact. Through sms, instant message and now twitter a new language register (or a sub-set of it) has emerged – it’s a pure reflection of the immediacy of such channels. Preventing learners from using such environments is a lost battle. They are using it already. They have started doing so way before we did. It’s a dialect they master and which they enjoy.It belongs to their generations.Hence, there’s a certain magic in it.
I truly believe it can be accommodated as part of the teaching and learning experience. It has great potential, and some educators are already doing so, as it has recently been reported here.

More about group twitter note taking soon!

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