Everybody's all about the Twitter

I’ll warn you right now, I’m not exactly sure how this fits into the world of education, or whether it has a place at all.  But, if you also read Teach42, or you’ve spent any time in the blogosphere recently, then you’ve definitely been hearing about Twitter in the last few weeks.

So what is Twitter?  It’s an incredibly simple concept.  You type in what you’re doing right now, or any other message (up to 140 characters), hit enter, and then the ‘tweet’ goes into your Twitter feed.  Anybody who follows your feed (your friends) will get instant notification of it, through IM, through a text message on their cell phone, or just when they visit the website.

Sounds silly, I know, but for some reason it’s oddly compelling.  Elizabeth Lane has some ideas about it.

The big "P" word in technology these days is "participatory." But I’m
increasingly convinced that a more important "P" word is "presence." In
a world where we’re seldom able to spend significant amounts of time
with the people we care about (due not only to geographic dispersion,
but also the realities of daily work and school commitments), having a
mobile, lightweight method for both keeping people updated on what
you’re doing and staying aware of what others are doing is powerful.

There’s no question, I am much more in touch now with people who Twitter, than I was when I was just reading their daily blog entries.  I feel much more connected with them.   

I’m not so sure that I buy into Andy’s idea that Twitter could be used to save lives,  but something about these little ‘tweets’ has really caught the attention of quite a few people. 

Want to see what it looks like in action?  Then check out TwitterVision.  It’s a mashup that plots public tweets on a map.   Looking for something local?  Then put your zip code into the TwitterMap and see what people are tweeting about in your area.  It’s currently the top search in Technorati and some people have written some pretty thorough articles about it.

Right now Twitter seems to be going through some growing pains and is lagging pretty bad.  But considering how many people are hitting it, I’m not at all surprised.

So what do you think?  Is there a place for Twitter in education?  Perhaps bite sized updates about what’s going on in class so that parents can follow along?  Or maybe a stream of reminders about upcoming events, concerts, and meetings?  Or is it a complete waste of time?

I created a Twitter account for the DEN already, so if you do decide to check Twitter out, be sure to add it as a friend!


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  1. Heather Sullivan said:

    Don’t know yet about the educational implications….have to think about that one for a while while I tweet away!! This thing is so cool- talk about connectivity! I just created an account & invited my 2 sisters & brother to join who are in California, Boston & Connecticut- I think it will be fun to see them on twittervision. Looking at what so many people are doing in the map view is very intimate in a non-intrusive way.

    I’m thinking that if there is any classroom connection, it should definately be tied to the map in some way- it really helps to drive home the digital-global citizenship role that we need to help our students develop!

    Side note: can we tweet on the DEN account, or just you Steve?

  2. Martha Thornburgh said:

    Just got a grant to do some collaborative projects with classrooms around the world. Would be fun to be able to check in and see what they were doing at different points in the day. Would be great to have it posted on a map like the twittermap. There are other ways to do this… but it might be fun.

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