PURPOSE
Aloha and welcome to our blog post!

The purpose of this post is to:
-give a brief introduction of micro-blogging and Twitter
-illustrate ways in which Twitter has been used in education
-spark interest and generate new ideas on how Twitter can be used in your learning environment.

BACKGROUND
Over the past three years, there has been a growing trend in micro-blogging, defined as, “a form of multimedia blogging that allows users to send brief text updates (say, 140 characters or fewer) or micromedia such as photos or audio clips and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, digital audio, or the web.” (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro-blogging).

Micro-blogging applications such as Twitter give people the opportunity to share short updates about themselves, their lives, and their whereabouts online. Users post messages about their status, their mood, their location; and recommend information and resources to others. Users can post questions or requests, and generally anything else that comes to mind.


USAGE
As of December 2008, 11% of online American adults said they used micro-blogging to share updates about themselves or to see the updates of others. Just a few weeks earlier, in November 2008, 9% of internet users did this, while in May of 2008, 6% used micro-blogging. The most popular of these micro-blogging sites is Twitter. Twitter is microblogging, instant messaging, social networking and Web 2.0 all rolled into one. Twitter allows users to send messages, or “tweets” from a computer, SMS device or mobile phone, in 140 characters or less. Twitter came online in 2006 and has experienced exponential growth. One in five people ages 18-34 year old "tweet" (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2009).

While it’s possible to fire up your laptop and log on to Twitter, the real value is that you can send and receive tweets on your mobile phone. This means information comes in real time, from all over the world. “It’s one thing to be connected to a network of people on your computer, but quite another to carry that network around with you in your pocket when out in the real world space” (Parry, 2009).


POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS
As we enter a new world of global digital communication, it is no surprise that there is a growing interest in the relations between mobile technology and learning. New mobile and context-aware technology can enable young people to learn by exploring their world, in continual communication with and through technology. Instant messaging, for example, enables people to create learning communities that are both contextual, in that the messages relate to locations and immediate needs, yet are unbounded since the messages can be exchanged anywhere in the world  (Sharples, 2005).

Another emerging trend is the notion of collective intelligence. Today’s learners want to be active participants in the learning process – not mere listeners; they have a need to control their environments, and they are used to easy access to the staggering amount of content and knowledge available at their fingertips. Further, students are different, but a lot of educational material is not. Schools are still using materials developed decades ago, but today’s students come to school with very different experiences than those of 20 or 30 years ago, and think and work very differently as well. Institutions need to adapt to current student needs and identify new learning models that are engaging to younger generations (New Media Consortium, 2009).

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
Twitter is uniquely poised to exploit and synthesize these trends and technologies. Students and instructors alike may contribute knowledge and ideas in short bursts anytime, anywhere. Educators are already exploring ways in which to utilize Twitter in their learning environments. Post your comments and ideas on how Twitter can be used in teaching and learning.


RESOURCES

Twitter :: Sign up for your very own Twitter account now at Twitter.com

9 Great Reasons Why Teachers Should Use Twitter :: What’s the point of Twitter? Why should educators get involved? What difference does using Twitter make? Thoughts on these questions by Laura Walker, an educator from the UK.

48 Hours of Twitter - Class Assignment :: A class assignment to get students started with Twitter.

Twitter in Plain English :: A useful and understandable introduction to using Twitter.

Teaching and Twitter :: Univ of Texas at Dallas professor David Parry's thoughts on using Twitter.



REFERENCES

Ally, M. (2008). The theory and practice of online learning. Edmonton, AB, Canada: AU Press.

Briggs, L. (2008). Microblogging with twitter. Campus Technology. Retrieved February 15, 2009 from http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2008/03/Micro-Blogging-with-Twitter.aspx?p=1

Futurelab. (2004). Literature review in informal learning with technology outside school. Bristol, UK: Selfton-Green, J.

Grosseck, G, & Holotescu, C. (2008). Can we use twitter for educational activities? Proceedings from the 4th International Scientific Conference of eLearning and Software for Education, Bucharest, Romania.

Java, A. Finin, T., Song, X. & Tseng, B. (2007). Why we twitter: understanding microblogging usage and communities.  Proceedings from the Joint 9th WEBKDD and 1st SNA-KDD Workshop '07,  San Jose, CA.

Lenhart, A, & Fox, S (2009). Twitter and status updating. Pew Internet and American Life Project, Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/276/report_display.asp.

Parry, D. (2008, January 23). Twitter for academia. Message posted to http://academhack.outsidethetext.com/home/2008/twitter-for-academia/

Parry, D. (2009). Teaching with twitter. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved February 15, 2009 from http://chronicle.com/media/video/v54/i25/twitter/

Pogue, D. (2009). Twitter? It's what you make it [Electronic version] . New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2009 from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/12/technology/personaltech/12pogue.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

Russell, K. (2008, January 17). "48 hours of twitter" class assignment. Message posted to http://teachingpr.blogspot.com/2008/01/48-hours-of-twitter-class-assignment.html

Sharples, M. (2005). Learning as conversation: transforming education in the mobile age. United Kingdom: University of Birmingham, Centre for Educational Technology and Distance Learning.

Williams, T. (2009, February 15). How twitter's spectacular growth is being driven by unexpected uses. Message posted to http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/evan_williams_on_listening_to_twitter_users.html