Create Catalyze Communicate A-Ha Moments
A-Ha Moments

Twitter: When the Bird Chirps, Does Anyone Learn?

Written by: Bill Sherman on Tuesday, 9 June 2009, 11:48 AM

Last week, Mike Prokopeak (editorial director of Chief Learning Officer magazine) teed up an interesting question about the value of social media to learning.

Right now, Twitter–which right now is just passing the peak of Gartner’s Hype Cycle. For the last year many people have asked each other “are you on Twitter?” Now, some journalists and researchers are finally asking: “why are we all talking about Twitter?”

  • Nielsen–explores Twitter’s ongoing post-Oprah struggles with month-to-month retention
  • Harvard Business Publishing–the top 10% of Twitter users produce 90% of the tweets
  • ReadWriteWeb–40% of Twitter users have not tweeted since their first day on Twitter: “Hello, World.” also became their goodbye. Similarly, 25% of Twitter users are not following anyone.
Based on this data, Twitter seems to serve a marketing niche for “pushing information/marketing” but it’s not showing strength for collaboration or cross-communications.
As an instructional designer, I’d consciously be careful with Twitter.
  • It might be useful for communications between an expert (instructor, subject-matter expert, or mentor) and learners. You can quickly tweet links for just-in-time updates.
  • However, I would hesitate to rely on it as a peer-to-peer tool (for group learning or collaborative problem solving). People just haven’t yet adopted the tool in that way.
Every social media offers different potential. Twitter is an effective just-in-time marketing/communications megaphone–CNN and NPR have created excellent newsfeeds through Twitter.
If Twitter makes a good learning tool, the smarter question would be–how can we apply it to our learners and the way they’re likely to use the tool?
  • What if only 10% of learners write tweets? Will that provide enough critical mass?
  • What if 25% of learners choose to follow no-one?
That’s often the problem with new social media technology, we try to apply new tools for all circumstances–whether or not they fit.

Something to say?

You must be logged in to post a comment.

    Wayback Machine Wayback Machine
    Now Reading