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Twitter as a tool to shape education: yours too!

October 31, 2011

One month of heavy Twitter use and some gentle nudging got me here, today. The questions are: Do I know more today than I did at the beginning? Yes. What part of what I know today is attributable to Twitter use? Some of it, definitely!

Let me explain.

With Twitter, one is drawn into a vortex of knowledge (some people use stream, but it is a very fast one to me). So, it is not possible to just stand aside, lurking, and do nothing else. (Joking) this must be some plot by Amazon and others to make me buy books! But, on the serious side, that is the general effect. So many views, from so many people, just coming in, every day, every hour …

The taming of the vortex/stream is a problem, but has a solution in itself. Who to follow and the value of the choice has learning value in itself. I’m very picky. I do not want more of the stream, I want more quality from the stream. In a sense, I’m shaping the stream with the choices I make; I’m making it more my stream every day. In the process, I learn to separate wheat from chaff, get intuitive about marketing, spam, dull repetition (even recognizing that re-tweeting is an important mechanism in the workings of Twitter).

In a sense, I’m actively filtering content and passing on my choices. I’m a human filter, not an algorithm. My choices change as I learn, and what I do changes accordingly.

One of the things I learned that helps me make sense of the taming of the Twitter stream is the integration with other tools. As I like to do things step by step, I’m not jumping in big things and I’m now playing with the Twitter/Scoop.it/Blog integration. It takes time to see it working, some caring for the sake of producing better results for me. So, I’m learning to do things and, after some time, take a step back and reflect on the work done. For example, I still have to find a place for the tools of the first semester that are in “backburner” status (Google reader, Diigo, Delicious) in this new setup.

Do I consider this a PLE (personal learning environment)? Yes and no. It is part of it, a very important part right now because of the “gentle nudging”. But a PLE is a virtual entity, a science fiction shape shifter from which one can take snapshots now and then but never capture. In fact, the Twitter stream can have quite an effect on the shape changing, at least on the rate of the change.

How do I see my role in the Twitter community? Though question. Right now, I’m basically taking value for me, something that, clearly, I will do most of the time in the near future. But I feel already the draw for contributing myself to it. One cannot criticize the lesser contributions of others without taking the lesson home, so to speak.

So, as a wrap up, what can I say about the role of Twitter in my own education. That it will be a source of constant inspiration and stimulus when I’m not anymore under the guidance of someone with more experience. I think that I can, now, take things into my hands. I know that there is more to be gained from being in the stream and not just looking at it sideways. And I know that I must adopt the reflect/adapt cycle to keep it under control, actively learning all the time.

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