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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Twitter Learning

Saw a tweet this morning from @willrich45 (Will Richardson):
Reading: "Why Most Twitter Users Give Up" Interesting how edTwitterers use it for learning, unlike most, it seems.
This is a big meme right now based on a Nielsen study that resulted in the blog post: Twitter Quitters Post Roadblock to Long-Term Growth.

I'm not surprised to see that there are lots of people who sign up and then leave. Contrary to what Will implies in his tweet, I'm not sure that among edTwitterers there's really that much of a difference in the effect for people who use it as a learning tool.

I enrolled about a year ago (Twitter Status) and I've personally struggled a bit with the purpose, value, etc. If you look across a broader set of eLearning bloggers discussing twitter you likely will find similar challenges. A big part of this directly relates to my recent post Learning Goals -
Twitter is more for flow learning than directed learning.

The bigger challenge and my claim in Twitter as Personal Learning and Work Tool:

Twitter is Not for People New to Social Learning

Considering what I saw when I looked at following Twitter Learning Professionals - quickly I decided Twitter Mass Follow - Never Mind. My concern about twitter is that it will be too random for most people, especially those who have not established any relationships / understanding of the people they are following. Thus, my opinion is: Twitter is not a tool for people who are new to social media and the use of social media for personal learning and work.

There is one exception to this. If you are going to a conference or evening event where attendees will be using Twitter in a group fashion, then that's likely a good opportunity to try out the tool.
I would guess that among edTwitterers, you likely will also get high drop out rates. Maybe it's less than other audiences - but I'm not so sure.



Eric Wilbanks said...

My personal opinion/observation is that there are many Twitter users who have not advanced past the "What are you doing" phase. I blogged about this recently ( and think it is the number one reason that Twitter is still criticized by non-users as being "narcissistic." I find Twitter supports learning when it is intentionally used for that purpose.

borborigmus (Vyt) said...

Being of the persuasion that learning is chaotic, spontaneous, self-directed and fun, for me Twitter supports learning because, like Mt.Everest, it is there.

All of us have the option of unfollowing "narcissistic" tweeps. We winnow our intersecting tweetstreams for maximum personal return on our time investment.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments above.

As Hugh MacLeod eloquently illustrates, It's not what the software does, it's what the user does. If Twitter users want to be insular, narcissistic and boring, they certainly can be. On the other side of the coin, however, they can also be sharing, fun and interesting.

Personally, I find Twitter indispensable for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. I don't bother tweeting that I'm having a cup of coffee on Bondi Beach - who cares! Instead, I tweet about the enlightening article I found on the web, or the informative video clip that I watched on YouTube, and I follow others in my industry who do the same.

It's an international CoP hosted by the Twittersphere.

jay said...

We've been through this before. Five years ago, it was about Blogs, not Twitter.

Commentators pointed to the rate of abandoned and low-traffic blogs as proof positive that blogging was a fad going nowhere.

Had they looked a bit deeper, they would have found that the high drop-out rate was a reflection of low barriers to entry. When you can experiment with something with an investment of ten minutes and no money, you should expect lots of flops. The more important statistic is the number of people who keep at it. I pointed this out when there were only about 20,000 blogs in existence.

As for low-traffic blogs, or Tweeters, volume is the wrong measure. This is the long tail at work. If I pick up your one Tweet per month and it is dead center of my interests, I'm happy. That's the way the world should work, no?

Tony Karrer said...

Fantastic comments!

At first Eric - I was thinking that I didn't agree with you about it not supporting learning unless "when it is intentionally used for that purpose" - but as I read the other comments it makes me realize that while you might learn a bit without trying to do so - likely you better use twitter to learn based on how you do it.

Jay - I'm more worried about the other end of the spectrum with twitter - lots of noise little signal. I try hard to filter out noise and am learning to do that a bit with twitter now.

I'm glad you are pointing out that this was the discussion around blogs. I hadn't really thought of that.