1,000 Twitter users were asked in a survey to state why they like Twitter. Here is what they said:
- It accelerated my learning curve.
- It helped me with personal learning.
- It expanded my circle
The point of social media tools like Twitter is to turn learning into a more collaborative, participatory, social, or natural experience.
Many learning professionals are using Twitter (or micro-blogs) to foster a learning community. Twitter is also used by learners as a back channel during and after a training event. Trainers use Twitter as a way to receive immediate feedback on the relevance of their course. After class, trainers use micro-blogging to support relationships among the learners and to further their learning by connecting learners to other resources. Trainers use Twitter to post tips of the day, questions, writing assignments, and provide other prompts to keep learning going.
Some believe that Twitter is even more powerful as a social learning tool outside the context of the “classroom”. A company might formalize the Twitter process by selecting exemplary performers to post regularly, and pick those who should follow their posts. This might help promote and encourage best practices.
Another popular use of Twitter and other micro-blogging sites is the building of professional networks. I started using Twitter to get to know other “like minded” people. Within weeks, I was posting regular updates about my ideas and experiences, getting feedback and help from others, and attracting some followers.
Compared to instant messaging, which requires you to address people individually, Twitter allows me to broadcast to a a defined group of followers. Using it as a tool to get expert advice on the fly has returned immediate and tangible results.
Twitter has already reduced my use of email – I love that!
A first visit to Twitter might not convince you of its potential as a professional networking and learning tool. Many of the tweets are not only personal but trivial—what someone is having for breakfast, or where they’re headed next. It’s not unusual for a new user to post an update and be completely ignored.
Twitter (or micro-blogging) is only one kind of social media tool with the potential to support professional networking and learning. Those that offer collaborative file sharing, mindmapping, writing, and editing capabilities can support more complex collaborative learning than Twitter. But for the moment, nothing else is as immediate or growing as fast.
Give it a try.