Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Twitter is a relatively new kid on the Web2.0 block but it has already made a big hit on Mars. Yes, Mars!! From the New York Times: "For users of Twitter, a Web microblogging service, the Phoenix Mars lander has been sending pithy news 'tweets' to the cellphones and computers of interested 'followers.' " As I learned from CommonCraft, Twitter fills in the gaps between blogs, f2f, and phone calls. How wonderful! The next step will be probes inserted into each of us so we can see what others see and hear even what they think all the time.

I'm guessing it could be an interesting tool for parents. I know when I ask my son what he did in school today, he either responds, "Nothing" or "I don't remember." Both responses scare me. Upon persistence and questioning techniques I learned as a a teacher, I eventually get some information and find he did do something, whew, and he does remember something, double whew. In fact as we continue this enlightening interchange he is able to reflect on what he learned and comment on it in a positive way. Now we are making progress. I am becoming very impressed with this smart young man sitting in front of me doing something on his cellphone and firing up the computer as he tells me his day's activities. As it turns out he is using twitter on his cellphone and exploring his friends activities on his Twitter account. So what are his friends doing right now? The same thing. Soon the television is accessed because there is something on it he needs to see, says one of his friends. Wow his friend is right, haha. So here I am trying to elicit information from my son in a traditional way for me while all this time, he is revealing lots of information to the world via his Twitter account, his cellphone, and the computer. It is a digital nightmare for me. He is dancing around all of a sudden, and then puts his cellphone down as he races from the room. The computer screen is scrolling, the cellphone is beeping, and the television is blaring something of non interest to me. I'm just sitting here oblivious. When he returns, he starts laughing as he he reads the posts.

I ask him what he is laughing about.
"TMI" he responds.
"TMI?" I ask.
"Yeah, Too Much Information," he says.
"I know that. TMI about what?" I query.
"Oh, I told them (his friends) he had to go to the bathroom."
"TMI" I respond.

So twitter becomes reality computing, we even know when someone goes to the bathroom. That was always something I wondered about when I was watching television in the 50's and 60's and even today, except Seinfeld, when do people go to the bathroom? It is important and Twitter has solved that problem of lack of knowledge for us, whew.

So I suggest to my son that he use twitter during the school day so I can know what he is doing. He tells me he can't cause he would get into trouble using his cellphone in school. Hmm another lost opportunity for technology in schools.

As I consider the educational uses I see it used as we use a MOO or a discussion board or email. What are those my millenials ask me. Nevermind. Twitter can be and probably is a powerful tool. We are on Mars as we read the twitter account. We could be with scientists in the field, doctors in the operating room, teachers in the classroom. While we can't be somewhere, someone else could be giving us the 411 on what is happening live for them and they transmit it to us someplace else. When the cellphone won't work and we need a different technology, Twitter fills the bill. Twitter opens the possibilities, but schools shut them down with the filters and rules against technology.

Another Resource from academhack.
Katie Ash's article, Educators Test the Limits of Twitter Microblogging Tool, in Education Week.

1 comment:

readertheater said...

Ted, this is an interesting story of just how in tune the students are with technology, and I'm only 27!

I've read some on Twitter, and from what I see (and I haven't used it yet), it seems to be communication to the Nth degree. I mean, really? Do we need to know what everyone is doing at every single moment of the day? Yeah, the integration of technology in classrooms is vital for getting students to compete globally, but I just can't see much value in Twitter.