Sunday, November 22, 2009
My Journey into the Land of Twitter
To Tweet or Not to Tweet that is the Question
My Twitter adventure reminded me of the time my family went white water rafting and then jumped off a rock into freezing water. I’m scared of heights. We were sailing over the rapids with ease, suddenly we stopped and the guide announced that we were going to climb a rock and jump into the four degree water below landing in a two hundred foot deep pool in the river. What? Did I hear correctly? My five and eight year olds were all for this. How could this be? What was I going to do? Everyone else did it and I couldn’t be out done. I had to do it. I took the plunge. Will I do it again?
This was like my Twitter experience. I didn’t want to do it. I had to for my course. I looked at Twitter and read over everyone else’s Tweets with ease and then I had to take the plunge and Tweet something myself. I couldn’t be out done. I had to do it. I took the plunge. Will I do it again?
Reflections on the process of learning about the tool:
I had heard the buzz words “Twitter and Tweet” before and thought it was mainly something that the celebrities were doing along with their fans. Then I noticed that news casts and radio stations were joining the Twitter craze. It wasn’t something that I was interested in so I never bothered to look into it. Then in the first few days of taking my Web 2.0 course I was required to sign up for Twitter. This was the start of my climb up the rock. To my surprise signing up was fairly easy. I liked the Welcome to Twitter video under their help section http://help.twitter.com/portal as it gave me an idea of what Twitter was about and how to tweet. I also read parts of the help guide to give me more insight into making my Twitter experience more successful. I used these tips to help me to understand what others were saying in their Tweets.
Five Fast Twitter Tips
1. Use “d” to send a direct message to someone [d sarahlib great to see you on Twitter!]
2. Use the @ symbol to respond to another person in a tweet[@ellyssa how about Tuesday instead?]
3. Use the # symbol to address a group [#CIL2008 anyone going to dinner at 7?]
4. Create TinyURLs to save characters when sending Web addresses(tinyurl.com)
5. Grab the RSS feeds for your friends’ tweets & subscribe via your news reader
I couldn’t think of anyone to follow but was happy to know that we were given a list because I didn’t know anyone on Twitter. I added them along with a few others to my followers list. After signing up I would visit the site periodically and read the tweets. I really didn’t understand the fascination. I tweeted a couple of times but had no idea what to say. I felt like I needed to connect what was being said even though that is not the idea of Twitter. I wanted to sound intelligent and say something of substance. I avoided saying anything for those reasons. I really felt like I didn’t belong on Twitter and it wasn’t my kind of social network. I was still climbing the rock and hadn’t yet taken the plunge. I felt that I could get social networking both personally and professionally in other venues that I was enjoying more.
Then when it was time to follow the trailfire in my Web 2.0 course for Twitter I started to understand what I could get out of Twitter. My first thoughts were, “why didn’t we read some of these websites in the beginning of the course so that I would understand the benefits of Twitter?” I could now see the value in it for networking purposes and wished that I had known these things in the first place. I felt like I had wasted some of my time because of my lack of knowledge of Twitter’s worth. I enjoyed reading the trailfires and made many notes for future reference in using Twitter. Then I decided to take the plunge and jump right in. I added a few more tweets to my Twitter page. I started following a few more people. I read the tweets each day. I asked for help for smartboards and for blog writing because getting information quickly was one of the ways that I had learned that Twitter could be useful. And like when I jumped into the frigid river I didn’t feel the satisfaction that everyone seemed to feel.
I was actually disappointed in the lack of response. I felt like there should be some kind of interaction whenever someone tweets something. I thought about this and decided that this lack of interest could be due to a few factors including the way I tweeted or my choice of followers as none of them know me and some are businesses. I have since continued to Tweet but feel that I still do not know Twitter as well as I need to. I have to use it more to convince myself that it will be a Web 2.0 tool that I will continue to use.
Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning:
When I started using Twitter I was unsure of what it could do for me personally as a learner. I feel that there is a lot more that I could get out of Twitter because at this point I am not getting very much out of it. I need to search out people that have similar interests to me and use my tweets to connect with these individuals and learn new links and knowledge from them as Joyce Valenza, (2009), has done. “I use Twitter to learn more about my particular intersection of interests and I seek out movers and shakers and writers and thinkers in the worlds of education, libraries, technology, edtech, journalism, and media.” This would help me in terms of my own personal learning in areas that interest me both in education and hobbies.
In terms of me being a parent, my children have not yet shown a desire to Twitter. They are probably too young. But by knowing what I do now about Twitter I would certainly encourage them and their friends to use Twitter as a means of learning and networking. I would also discuss the merits of using Twitter with their friends’ parents. The Twitter in Plain English video would help these parents to understand more why their children would want to use Twitter.I would also show them how their children could protect their tweets and only let certain people read their profiles. In the past many of these parents have discouraged the use of social networking sites for their young teenage and preteen children because of safety concerns and lack of understanding the purpose of microblogging.
Using Twitter as a social network could benefit me in a couple of ways. One my husband and I own a small company and many companies are starting to use microblogging to further their production. In one article, Jansen, Zhang, Sobel, and Chowdury (2009) states, “microblogging sites provide a platform to connect directly, again in near real time, with customers, which can build and enhance customer relationships.” My husband and I can start to use Twitter as a way to network with previous and potential customers. I can also use Twitter to network with others in terms of scrapbooking and photography.
Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning:
“My Twitter network helps me grow as a professional and share as a mentor and teacher.” (Valenza, 2009). I too, could use Twitter as a tool to promote my professional learning. I would be able to network with other teachers and experts in areas of my professional interest such as early literacy, special education, smartboard and technology integration. Twitter could also be used for feedback from students and colleagues after class or a workshop. I would welcome feedback on workshops that I give on Kindergarten topics. This would help me to become a better presenter and would also help my audience to clarify any topic that needed to be clarified. This could also start a social networking group.
I would use Twitter in my classroom if I was teaching older children but since I am not at the moment I would show my colleagues the benefits of using Twitter in their classrooms. First I would show them the video Tweets for Education Pt1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkGj0YXPGok so that they get a good overview of what Twitter is and how they could use Twitter in the classroom. I would also show them the video on how one teacher used Twitter as an information gathering site and then posted an assignment for her students. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV5j_OIKPp4 Other examples that I would share with my colleagues on using Twitter come from Bradley, (2009). These include:
-Searching for information
-Identifying experts in an area
Also other ways to use Twitter as social networking to send out information for libraries include:
-General information updates - opening/closing times
-Countdowns for events taking place in the library
-Linking to images of/in/about the library
-Notify students/staff/users/clients about any and everything the library is doing.
-Share best practices with other libraries
There are many ways that Twitter and microblogging can be used to increase teachers’ and students’ social networking to enhance their learning and teaching potential. Twitter could also be used by teachers to, “support relationships among the people from the class and to further their learning. Teachers post tips of the day, questions, writing assignments, and other prompts to keep learning going.” (Galagan, 2009). I will promote Twitter as a web 2.0 tool to use for teachers and students as there is a benefit to both.
For all the benefits of using a social networking site like Twitter many school districts ban its use. This is one of the cons of using Twitter. Other disadvantages include: misuse by students who might tweet inappropriately for educational purposes and safety of students who open themselves up for public viewing and give out too much information. As with all Web 2.0 tools students need to be taught global citizenship and safety measures. On the plus side Twitter is free to use, user friendly, and can be accessed by several methods including home computers and cell phones. I took the plunge into learning about Twitter and decided that it should become part of any educator’s repertoire.
Galagan, P. (March, 2009). Twitter As a Learning Tool. Really. T + D, 63(3), 28-29,31. Retrieved October 25, 2009, from ProQuest Education Journals.
Jansen, B., Zhang,M., Sobel, K.,and Chowdury,A. (2009). Twitter power: Tweets as electronic word of mouth. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. vol:60 iss:11 pg:2169 retrieved Oct.13
Valenza, J. ( March, 2009). http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/1340000334/post/1940041394.html