PLN: Harnessing the power of Twitter

Last week, during a break in our meeting schedule, I had a great opportunity to discuss the use of social media in the educational setting with friend, educator and fellow blogger Doug Peterson. On this particular occasion we were discussing our approaches to using Twitter and Facebook to make connections and keep our learning current. Doug captured our discussion eloquently in his recent On Going PD blog post, so I won’t repeat the entire discussion here.

Part of our discussion was centred around capturing and managing the rich source of information, ideas and resources within Twitter. I wanted to pick up on one point as a followup to Doug’s post as I have been using Seemic Desktop extensively over the last couple of weeks since that conversation occurred.

seesmic-logo

Seesmic desktop provides a powerful framework to organize and follow communications. The default setup gives 3 columns showing your main ‘Twitter feed’ – the list of communications from the people you follow along with your posts (like the Twitter ‘home’ screen on Twitter.com, replies, and private 1:1 communications.

With a little experimentation, I was able to streamline and view Twitter information in different ways, focusing on people or concepts.

Lists: People can be viewed as individuals or grouped by lists according to characteristics. For example, if you were following educators, you might have lists for your province or state, country and International etc. Each of these lists can be displayed in their own column within the Seesmic framework.

Concepts: Additional columns can be added to reflect the results of particular searches by filtering against the Twitter public timeline. Searches can be done with key words that you choose, or by the hashtag labels (e.g. #mlearning) which Twitter users include in messages for this tracking purpose. I have been comparing results for similar searches. For example, searches for mobile learning and #mlearning yield different results. It is rather interesting to view these columns side by side.

This approach allows you to become more of a consumer of information. Certainly, there will be ‘noise’ or distractions within the information flow. The Seesmic framework allows me to easily review posts at a glance by person, group or concept and zero in on items that catch my interest for further reading, bookmarking, commenting, responding or resource exploration. 

In my mind, there is no doubt that Twitter is a powerful learning and sharing tool. It is a core component of my daily learning and collaboration. In addition the in information I learn through the people I follow, I use this ‘concept’ approach to augment contacts, knowledge and resources in specific areas such as ipods in the classroom and mobile learning. 

I appreciate all of the Twitter participants who have become part of my PLN. Each day I look forward to the interactions, ongoing learning and collaborating!  See you online!

~ Mark

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