Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

The Usage Characteristics of Twitter in the Learning Process

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

The Usage Characteristics of Twitter in the Learning Process

Article excerpt

Introduction

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) available today enable educators, more than ever, to extend learning processes through a variety of tools, called Web 2.0 tools. These tools allow the use of the internet not only as a repository for information but as a means for creating, sharing and consuming information and knowledge. Many studies indicate the potential educational advancement which is inherent in a combination of tools such as Wiki, Blog, and Podcast for creation of collaborative knowledge in the teaching and learning processes (Clark, Logan, Mee, & Oliver, 2009; Zang, 2009). Prensky (2008) emphasized that the challenge is not only diversification and enrichment of teaching by visual and demonstrative means that increase motivation among the students, but a combination of tools that allow students to actively participate in the use of means for learning management and mentoring in order to facilitate the teacher in producing products and sharing them with the learning community.

Twitter is one of the Web 2.0 tools, which allows for the sharing of messages. Twitter users are able to post direct and indirect updates. Direct posts (personal messages) are used when a user aims her update to a specific person, whereas indirect updates (public messages) are used when the update is meant for anyone that cares to read it. Even though direct updates are used to communicate directly with a specific person, they are public and anyone can see them. Often times two or more users will have conversations by posting updates directed to each other (Huberman, Romero, & Wu, 2008). The Twitter community is divided into Followers--the participants who choose to follow someone or a group- and Following--the user that you choose to follow and read his or her messages. The uniqueness of Twitter--the micro blogging and social networking platform most amenable to ongoing, public dialogue--is expressed in the combination of four characteristics: the length of message is limited to 140 characters and is called a tweet; the message is public, because reading it is not conditional upon author approval; the distribution of the message depends on the interest aroused among a group of followers; and the message transmission can be synchronous or asynchronous through mobile devices or stationary computers (O'Reilly & Milstein, 2009).

This study deals with the potential of Twitter as a teaching-supporting tool in face to face (F2F) learning. During the research, short text messaging, including media files, was tested and determined to assist not only the personal-business, but also to create a leap in pedagogical-management learning. The study examines how and to what extent the teacher and the students utilize the proposed technology to answer educational questions and for information sharing (pedagogical use); as support and encouragement for group members (the followers); and for the transfer of memorandums and messages (management use). In addition, this study examines the technical difficulties in implementing this new technology in a learning environment.

The uniqueness and importance of this research is in the age group on which it focuses, an age group that has not yet been examined (aged 14-15--ninth grade, N=20); furthermore, data was analyzed by decoding tweets, grouping tweets into various pedagogical and social uses, and exploring the technical difficulties that arise as a result of using Twitter. In addition, several communication characteristics that have not yet been analyzed regarding Twitter as an educational tool are included in the research.

Background

Web 2.0 is both a platform on which innovative technologies have been built and a space where users are as important as the content they upload and share with others. Web 2.0 includes social networks, such as MySpace and Facebook; media sharing, such as YouTube and Flickr; social bookmarking, such as Delicious; collaborative knowledge development through wikis (e. …

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