Monday, April 7, 2008

tt4t_032 Do you Twitter?

It’s Monday, April 7th, 2008 and welcome to episode 32 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Trying new things is a requirement for those keeping up with the world of educational technology. If you are a previous listener you have probably noticed a slight change in the opening music. Nothing drastic but every now and then change is a good thing. I discussed in the last episode that Moore’s Law takes time for some technologies to mature to a point where others find them useful. Twitter is one of those technologies for me. I tried this service when it first came out a couple of years ago but found the premise a bit useless from my perspective as an educator. Twitter is a service that asks “What are you doing?” My response back then was “Who cares?” I am now giving twitter a second chance.

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Twitter users periodically go to the twitter site and type in a short description of what they are doing. The description is limited to 140 characters and can be described as microblogging. Twitter advertises that life happens between blog postings so shorter and more frequent posting give others a more complete view of what you do. My first impressions of twitter a couple of years ago was that nobody would want to “follow” other twitter users to see the mundane details of day-to-day life, that opinion is beginning to change for me. One reason that I am giving twitter a second chance is that this service is beginning to reach a critical mass of users where it is beginning to become useful if used selectively.

The idea behind twitter is for users to “follow” each other to see what everyone is doing. I guess the problem I had with the twitter service in the beginning was over my concerns privacy issues, I do not feel comfortable placing my entire life online for all to see yet many younger folks do not have this inhibition. Students think nothing of putting their life online through the use of Facebook and My Space.

Imagine having a class of students “twittering” about topics covered in class. If someone finds something interesting they can make a twitter post, called a “tweet”, and everyone that is following can immediately see the updates in their twitter account. Now I am not naïve enough to think that teachers and students are going to rush out and get twitter accounts so they can use them for educational purposes but it is an intriguing possibility. I am also curious to know if former students would be interested in following twitter feeds to keep up with their professional development needs. Once you finish a class the real learning begins and technology offers a way for continuing the conversation beyond the walls of a classroom.

The other thing that I have found useful in following other twitter users is that a sense of community can be built. I envision twitter as a useful professional development tool if you target the people you want to follow and post content that is relevant to learning.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My Technology Pick of the Week this week is the Twitter service. My new twitter account is listed in the show notes along with the website to signup for a new twitter account if you are interested in exploring more about twitter.

Twitter Homepage

EIU Instructional Technology Center Twitter Account

If you are interested in following my twitter account you can visit to see what I am doing. If you do get a twitter account please follow my eiuitc account and I will place you on my list to follow. Some communities are being built using twitter, the key is to select the people you follow that have common interests.

That wraps it up for episode 32 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode along with archived versions of the show are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at just click on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. I am changing things up a bit and am toying with the idea of a video podcast. Let me know what you think, would you be interested in seeing video demonstrations of educational technology? Send your comments or suggestions to or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

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