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Twitter in education

Twitter in education

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Published by linade
Twitter: A productive and learning tool for the SMS generation.
Twitter: A productive and learning tool for the SMS generation.

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Published by: linade on Mar 14, 2011
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12/26/2012

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In: Internet Issues: Blogging, the Digital Divide and Digital… ISBN: 978-1-60741-824-5Editor: Cassie M. Evans © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Chapter 12
T
WITTER
:
 
A
 
P
RODUCTIVE
L
EARNING
T
OOL
 
FOR THE
SMS
 
G
ENERATION
 
Adelina Moura
*
and Ana Amélia Carvalho
A
BSTRACT
 
Twitter entered into the microblogging family and it is becoming a communication,information, and productivity tool. By enabling people to write messages up to just140 characters it requires great information management and makes knowledge sharingfast and more efficient. Twitter as a learning tool can be used in different contexts. Wecan convert it into a tool for collaborative or individual learning. Making theseassumptions we conducted an experiment based on microblogging with Twitter insideand outside the classroom, as a complement to Portuguese lessons. The activities wereintended to help students to improve their writing skills, to develop reasoning, to improvetheir capacity for summarise, and to increase creativity. To achieve this students createdmicro stories and micro biographies, wrote Haikus, wrote a diary or poetry, publishednews, proverbs, thoughts, and aphorisms. These were some of the activities published bystudents on the classTwitter account.
Keywords:
Twitter, SMS generation, learning tool, communication
1.
 
I
NTRODUCTION
 
It is time to stop and reflect on how communication technologies have progressed inrecent years. We have passed from e-mail to chat, blog, social networks and now to Twitter.Each new technology offers improvements for the user relative to its predecessors.Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter defines it in a simple way: "Twitter is not a socialnetwork, but a new form of communication" (apud Frias, 2009), because Twitter follows themodel of taxi drivers’ radio by communicating minute-to-minute. Inspired by this he
*
Corresponding author: adelina8@gmail.com, acc@ie.uminho.pt
 
Adelina Moura and Ana Amélia Carvalho2transferred into the microblogging world the need for users to tell everyone what they aredoing, or what they have in mind in real time.Similarly for Barrett (2008), Twitter is "primarily a communication tool and has oftenbeen described as filling the gap between email and instant messaging (IM)”. To Iskold(2007), Twitter is a "broadcast with an instant feedback", and he adds "that it is both a naturalstep from blogging and a weird experiment normally found in neuroscience Labs”.Despite its simplicity it has become very popular in a short period of time and its successis attributed, in its co-founder Biz Stone’s (apud Brandon, 2009) words, "to the fact thatpeople gravitate towards tools that can help them connect and share information. Beyond that,simplicity is probably the big factor in Twitter's increasing appeal”. It is a kind of SMS-basedTwitter. According to Martin (2009) its popularity is also due to the enthusiastic way thatimportant public figures have taken to using this tool, "Twitter has grown exponentially in thepast few months with no small thanks to celebrity exposure”.Twitter has grown over 1.382% in one year, according to Nielsen Wire (McGiboney,2009). Despite this growth, Nielsen conducted a study on social networks’ greater growth inrecent months and found that 60% of Twitter users did not re-enter the system during the nextthirty days. Only 40% of users remained activite on this tool.Twitter has entered into various sectors of society. It is used commercially by companieslike Dell, JetBlue and Whole Foods and is becoming the “center” of what happens in theworld, says the co-founder Biz Stone in an interview with Computer World Blogs (apudBrandon, 2009).Whereas blog posts are long, Twitter allows fragmented sentences, and can be publishedquickly and treated. It is this interaction between speed and quantity that has created aqualitatively different experience (Iskold, 2007). For this author, "Twitter pushed us all to theedge of real communication. Any more real would probably be telepathy!” People collaborateon Twitter in real time, to discover news, to find out what others are doing or even to ask orreceive advice.With regards to education, it is becoming a learning tool with multiple applications. Withthe reduction of text to a few characters, Twitter is now a valuable tool for learning, becauseit is necessary to reduce thoughts to the basics and creates a "mental gym", which makes it acognitive tool, in Jonassen’s opinion (2000). Twitters’ economy of words has even morevalue in a world full of accessories, as mentioned by Querido (2009), a Portuguese journalist.With the ability to add a mobile number to a Twitter account we can send and receivemessages on the move. Mobile technologies allow a connection anytime, anywhere and areshaping the relation between users and the information that they can access on the move.Mobile phones have become indispensable objects, offering an endless variety of new andpowerful features.Among existing technologies, the mobile phone is the most widespread in the SMSgeneration which regards it as an extension to, or organic part of, the body (Oksman &Rautiainen, 2003). The spread of SMS writing plays a big role in Twitter’s entry into mobiletechnologies. With Smartphones that enable web browsing, writing and reading, tweets hasbecome more comfortable on smaller screens.Twitter is one of the most appropriate tools for publishing micro contents because it hasgood convergence with mobile technologies. Its popularity led to the establishment of the
 
Twitter: A Productive and Learning Tool for the SMS Generation3“Shorty Awards”
1
. This is a prize which aims to identify the best twitters on the planet, and itis ganning a lot of interest into the Twitter community. We believe that Twitter will emergeas a new educational tool in the future.Taking all of the above into account, in this paper, we present details of a teachingexperiment which used Twitter to complement the Portuguese lessons of 10th grade students.The activities were intended to assist and train students with their writing skills, to developreasoning and analytical competence, and to improve their capacity for summarize andcreativity, research activities, analysis and information sharing. Students had to write microstories and biographies, create Haikus
2
, write a diary, poems, and post news, thoughts,proverbs, aphorisms and riddles. These are some of the activities that were done by thestudents both inside and outside the classroom and published on Twitter.
2.
 
T
WITTER
:
 
A
 
W
EB
2.0
 
T
OOL FOR
L
EARNING
 
After the spread and success of social networks now is the time for microbloggingapplications to enter into education. To Zago (2008) microblogging is a kind of "simplifiedblog”, because essentially it has the blog format, but in a simplified form. The maindifference seems to be size limitation, because each update can only be up to 140 characters.Twitter is the most serious social web after Google, YouTube and Facebook and it is now themost popular microblogging tool on a global scale (Zago, 2008).York (2007) presents ten ways to use Twitter:
 
as a source of news and views
 
a knowledge network 
 
"virtual water cooler" - a time of "chatter"
 
keeping up with friends
 
daily trips
 
monitor events
 
tool for marketing or public relations
 
learning tool
 
as entertainment
 
as a daily lesson in humility and succinctnessThe Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies
3
, through its list of the 100 bestlearning tools in 2009, allows us to know the opinion and selection tools for education byprofessionals involved in teaching and training. Among all these tools, Twitter is one of them.Jane Hart (in Esains, 2009) suggests several reasons for the popularity of Web 2.0 tools foreducational purposes. One is that these tools are available to any user, teacher or student, who
1
The Shorty Awards honour the world’s top Twitters. We can nominate as many people for as many categories aswe’d like until midnight December 31st. http://shortyawards.com/ 
2
The haiku is derived from a previous form of poetry in vogue in Japan between the ninth and twelfth centuries,known as tanka. It had 3 lines, 5-7-5 syllables, treated religious themes or attached to the court. In thenineteenth century, the master Masaoka Shiki gave it a name: haiku (by the addition of words haiku andhokku). Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), was considered the first major Japanese haiku poet, was born samurai andadopted simplicity both in life and in poetic creation.
3
http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/ 

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