As I sort out my thoughts on what I want to be when I grow up (and retire from Carroll in May) I am mulling over offering to give a formal presentation about my learning adventures with technology tools. As a start, I am revisiting (and in many cases revising) blog pieces I have written since 2009 or started to write, tweets I have posted, and Facebook and LinkedIn articles I have posted.And, of course, I have those forty plus years of notes and handouts I continue to winnow, mine, and rediscover.
I notice that Twitter is number 5 among the Top Learning Tools of 2017 identified by Jane Hart. A number of years ago I was quite hesitant to use Twitter. My student assistants found little value in using it. They failed to see differences between it and, say, the “update function” of Facebook. I read two books about it, consulted several Carroll alumni who DO use it (thanks Chris G, Lori S, and Fred K.), and studied fellow academics’ twittering experiences documented in publications which I closely read and value. I objected to the Procrustean process of having my thoughts, ideas, and communications reduced to 140 characters or less (“thought bytes”). Also, I was petrified at my inability to decrease or at least slow down my communication and information acquisition activities. I very much need and treasure having time to reflect, to read, to assimilate, and to create. I am amused to see that I myself have tweeted more than 2100 times!
Since then, however, I have reconsidered Twitter as a learning tool. “To Twit or not to Twit?” for me is no longer the appropriate way to frame the issue. Rather, the questions for me are:
Under what circumstances might Twitter give me more successful ways of teaching?
How can I use Twitter to improve my ability to find answers to questions I am investigating?
How can I minimize the costs to me (time away from other things; wheat to chaff ratio) of my using Twitter?
How can I best manage the tool?
Today Twitter is an invaluable personal learning and communication resource that I have fine-tuned for my particular needs. Currently I choose to follow 78 “thought leaders” whom I very much admire. I am in the process of comparing several Twitter-management apps (e.g.Tweetbot) which show promise to help me optimize the efficiency of my use of the tool. Now I need to consider implementing more these Advanced Twitter Tips I encountered.
As I systematically revisit Jane Hart’s Top 100 Learning Tools List, I must confess that (like Adam Grant) I continue to discover new ways to maximize Twitter’s usefulness for me as a learning tool. Though I have no interest in becoming a Twitter Ninja:), I am delighted by the capabilities, for example, of creating lists of experts who regularly stream invaluable and current information on topics important to me (right now those topics are technology learning tools and global education).
I’m monitoring my Twitter feed as I write this blog piece and find 10 ideas, resources, and thought-leaders worth following. The dross is outweighed by the nuggets as I refine my Twitter filters and make better use of Twitter applications. I still am not quite ready to explore Twitter Chats. Just because a technology learning tool HAS capabilities, doesn’t mean that I need them –or that I should change my teaching to accommodate them.
Thank you Teri Johnson and Jane Hart for firmly but gently nudging me into exploring the use of Twitter.
Here are some tweets that informed me or guided my personal learning.
I see that Maria Konnikova has a new book out She writes so well about psychology and pseudo science. I preorder the book and send her a brief note. Thank you, Maria, for your clear thinking, your lucid writing, and your thought-provoking ideas.
Alec Couros recommends a Ted Talk about “Where Good Ideas Come From.” If I can find time, I’ll take a look at that before teaching my research Seminar. Thank you, Alec, for the inspiration.