Saturday, November 1, 2008

Twitter: What's in it for education?

I'm responding to another post today, this one: "Actually, I'm still a bit confused as to the educational uses of twitter/twemes, etc. Any useful tutorials you could suggest?"

Ok, Twemes is a mashup that aggregates tweets around a #hashtag. The catch is only that those tweeting have to put the #hashtag in their post somewhere. But if you are microblogging to a group, or microblogging something of interest to a group, then it's useful if your group has established early on that they will be following Twemes, so people have in the back of their minds that they can reach the group by tweeting and embedding the #hashtag in their post, and then anyone can go to the Twemes site and find all the posts to Twitter (tweets) containing that #hashtag. Another advantage to this system is that you don't have to be on Twitter to see the Twemes. You can see whatever has been #hashtagged simply by visiting

The more interesting question is why should educators use Twitter in the first place. For some time I've been using 'twitter' as a tag in my Delicious:, so I had a look at the almost 100 links I've got stashed there and pulled out the ones most pertinent to education. Here they are:

If you want an educator's perspective on Twitter from the get-go, have a look at If you want a more specific example of how Twitter helped one teacher, There's also the inevitable Commoncraft explanation of Twitter:

My personal awakening with regard to Twitter was when I heard Jeff Utecht's presentation at the 2007 K-12 Online Conference. Jeff solicited help from his Twitter network when he started recording his presentation, and when help arrived I was able to understand how such a network works and how it would be useful to ME. You can listen and see if it strikes the same chord in you:

I'm sure I came on this next one through Twitter. The author notes that SHE came on this article through Twitter and points to another article, but you can read hers first and then go there. The point I'm making is that none of us in our distributed learning network would likely have known about this article had we not been on Twitter, so this is an example of how Twitter put the network on to something that we would not have found out about otherwise. Here's the microblog "review" post: and here's the article about using Twitter in academia:
This work was also discussed in SMiELT at, and yet another writer has reviewed this work here: so this one made a big splash when it touched down.

If in further doubt, entertain yourself with this ditty: