How can schools and universities use Twitter and social networking in learning?
My experience on social network sites this week made me realise that I am one of Kerawalla et al (2008)’s resource network builders.
I want to share relevant links, and I want to receive reciprocal links too with like-minded peers.
As part of the course, we were asked to connect with each other via Twitter. However one week in Twitter can be too little, or it can be too long. Sometimes comments snowball and you attract a mass of followers who know you because of that comment. Sometimes you need to give time to amassing a network of followers so that each of you know what you can contribute and what resources you can share. To my delight, I found an useful list of academics who tweet about educational technology here.
It is often a challenge for Universities on what conversational tack to adopt. This guide on Tweeting as an University suggests three different tweeting styles.
Universities or educational establishments may tweet about each new publication, website update or new blog that each of their department publicates. Departments may do this themselves however there might be issues with university administration control and reputation.However the key point of Twitter is to amass followers who share similar interests and could lead to more crowd collaboration.
There are also great tools to ensure that we catch the latest blog posts and page updates such as Feedly.com. I have to admit that I read blog entries when I can, but have not got into the habit of actively following them especially when RELEVANT articles are shared but I miss them perhaps due to my lack of organisation.
Why are these tools introduced in an online course ABOUT online learning where it should be standard in other courses?
It is my view that these habits needs to be entrenched in student learning behaviour. The power of “social networking” often leads to learning outcomes if the uses are made clear. It may need to be a requiem for all new students to choose to follow a main course Twitter account, to set up and use a social bookmarking tool to supplement on course learning. This can be a form of hybrid learning where we choose the most suitable tools for the course.
Web 2.0 should not be separated from formal learning. The challenge remains in convincing others of the value of using technology within learning.
Reference: Kerawalla et al., (2008) Characterising the different blogging behaviours of students on an online distance learning course [Online] available here.