Monday, November 2, 2009
I love Twitter. I only discovered Twitter for myself in July while watching one of my favorite sporting events, the Tour de France. I fell in love with the short bursts of information, links to great articles and fun TwitPics (of which Lance posts many). As I started my Master's program, I added others related to Full Sail, education in general, classmates and professors to my "Following" tab. So now my tweets vary between a note from FSO on site maintenance to my friend Chuck who is an architect and tweets often on design, to Lance and a variety of other professional cyclists, Al Gore, Queen Rania - it is an eclectic group. It would be nice to have a way to organize them into groups...
Presto! Magic! Twitter announced a new Beta feature of Twitter Lists on October 2, 2009. With Lists, Twitter now has group functionality so you can organize users that are similar. For instance, I could put all of my classmates and professors from Full Sail in one group. It makes it easier to follow the conversation and understand what the thread might be when these posts are not interrupted by posts from Lancearmstrong, trainright, edutopia, mashable, newscientist, isdnews and others. It hasn't taken long for new applications to spring forth to help manage these lists.
What is cool about Twitter Lists is that this new functionality doesn't just help me. Of course, it's great that I can organize all of my tweets on the cycling world in one list, but the great part is that this list can be shared publicly or be kept private. I made all of my lists public so if other Twitter users would like to follow the list I've organized, they can do so. What is different about following someone else's list is that you are not following all of these tweets individually in your main stream - only in the list (Catone, 2009). And how do you find other lists that are interesting? One way is to visit the people you are following and see what lists they have because if you're following them, then there is a good chance they might have a list that is of interest to you.
Since the announcement of Twitter Lists, there has been a fury of new ways to find and manage Twitter Lists. Of note is Listorious, a third-party site which manages lists. Since users make lists, those that create the lists are referred to as "curators" and the lists are the live Twitter streams from those the curator has chosen to group together. Listorious organizes these lists, ranks them by type and popularity. For instance, I chose to follow "Thought Leaders" and "New Media" amongst others. You could choose to follow the top celebrities on Twitter, "Great Content" which has the most re-tweeted content or lists on healthcare, comedy, finance etc. (See photo at top of one moment of tweeting from New Media list.)
Check out this SlideShare Presentation:
How is this useful? And how does it apply to education? Twitter is already being used in education in a variety of ways whether gathering information or getting out ideas. Ideas and inspiration come from different source. Twitter is one of the best ways to get a quick glance at what is happening in a wide variety of areas. Most organizations post links to interesting articles - I've found articles I would never have seen if I didn't find it on Twitter. Students today need to know about what is happening in the world today and mash together that information with what they are learning. Twitter motivates students to find information and share because it is something they enjoy doing (Cooper, 2008). Twitter helps students connect to the real-world learning rather than studying in isolation. Twitter is a great tool for doing this - Twitter Lists improves upon this by helping us sort what we are finding and Listorious is a great tool for finding lists that matter.
And just to add to that, a new application emerged, Twitter Lists Widgets, which allows you to post a specific list to your website or blog (Van Grove, 2009). I tried to use the html code to embed this widget in my blog here - that didn't work as of yet but I'll keep trying. This blog is about making and mashing information together for education. Part of the challenge today for students is finding the information that is relevant and useful, organizing it and then being able to quickly view it without all of it becoming overwhelming. Twitter Lists and Listorious have just made that task a little easier.
Catone, J. (2009, November 2). How to: Use Twitter Lists. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2009/11/02/twitter-lists-guide/
Cooper, C. (2008. August 22). 50 ideas on using Twitter for education. Retrieved from: http://cooper-taylor.com/blog/2008/08/50-ideas-on-using-twitter-for-education/
Van Grove, J. (2009, November 2). Twitter Lists Widget: Embed your lists on your blog. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2009/11/02/twitter-lists-widget/