Monday, May 18, 2009

Twitter: What Are You Doing?

The Power of Twitter
Well, the secret of Twitter is really out! Last month, Twitter was revealed to millions more as Oprah sent out her first tweet on April 17th Friday’s Live Show. I suspect Twitter will be a little more crowded now because everything Oprah endorses explodes in popularity. Recently there have also been a number of ‘Twitter Wars’ between media moguls and celebrities, all competing for the title of Twitter King or Queen. It is easy to dismiss this tool as frivolous and a waste of time. Everyone has their own reason for using Twitter – personal, professional or both.
Although Twitter was developed in San Francisco in 2006, I have only been tweeting since 2008. I had a little trepidation at first, not knowing exactly what was worthy of saying in 140 characters or less. In the beginning I truly did not understand the power of this application. However, the more I use it, the more I understand Twitter’s power in building networks and facilitating professional connections. For the most part, I choose to follow people, institutions or industry experts working within the field of education (public, private, government), technology and media specialists, and Web 2.0 enthusiasts.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a tweet from someone I was following stating that he had just updated his blog with a posting titled 3 Reasons Why Twitter Works in Education. The blog posting described Twitter in three words:

Twitter is simple. It gives users quick, short updates leaving readers the choice to follow a link for extended reading, or skip over and continue browsing tweets.

Twitter is an instant communicative platform that networks and connects with others who may have similar interests, thus creating social and professional connections that establish online relationships which may prove to be professionally beneficial.

The University of Minnesota has officially sanctioned using Twitter as part of their Digital Media program as outlined by Terry Freedman in his article Twitter in the Classroom.

Tim O’Reilly has much to say in his commentary Why I Love Twitter. Six key points outline the “architectural features” that O’Reilly finds impressive – simple, cooperative, sustains natural social grouping with privacy support, provides alternate interfacing, and is an ever-evolving application. O’Reilly specifically describes more of Twitter’s benefits as being able to:
-pass along tidbits of news
-follow interesting people
-learn from others
-track interesting ideas
-shape the future

Local, national and international media has jumped on the Twitter train. Marshall Kirkpatrick gave interesting insight into How We Use Twitter for Journalism on the ReadWriteWeb last spring. I receive Twitter updates from my local media outlets such as the Edmonton Journal, CTV Edmonton news, and Global Edmonton.

To sum up, Twitter is a simple communicative outlet that allows people from around the globe to network and connect.

What about the educational implications of this Web 2.0 tool?