The the ability to access Twitter on mobile phone is causing the nature of communication to change again. While on the surface, instant messaging has allowed individuals to communicate through their mobile phones with others through brief text messages, the community features associated with Twitter bring that type of communication to a whole new level. While instant messaging is about communicating to an individual or to a small group, Twitter is about communicating to larger audiences and keeping up with contacts through Twitter is easy.
For those unfamiliar with Twitter, here is another commoncraft video describing what Twitter is an how it works.
Applications for education? Well there is a lot of discussion on the web right now about how Twitter can be utilized to help students learn. In this video, professor David Parry of the University of Texas discusses how the dynamics of the classrooms have changed and how the the walls of the classroom no longer apply. Using Twitter on mobiles helps to keep teachers and student better connected in the new global classroom. This article from the Read/Write Web discuss how Twitter is fast, is an excellent platform for providing instant updates and it provides for easy two- way communication. Accessing this on mobile phones provides all these benefits from any location on the globe.
In applying this to education, when students are connected with their peers, Twitter can allow study groups a way to communicate with each other or with other students all around the world. In the case of K-12 education, Twitter can even serve as a means to keep in contact with parents about important dates, school emergencies or school events. I have recently been involved in conversations where schools want to purchase a paid service that allows them to communicate with parents using instant messaging. The company providing the service would provide software allowing the school to send instant messages from a computer and maintain contact lists. Twitter already allows all of this and it’s free!
Twitter is changing education in another way as well. I’ve been reading about Twittories and I find the concept interesting. Twittories are collaborative stories where many users contribute 140 characters worth of text to create their group story. Here is a TechCrunch article about it. This may be an interesting way to get reluctant writers or students who have difficulty with writing involved in the writing process as they are participating in story writing but are doing so in small manageable chunks. Mobile twittories allow for students to contribute when their have their moments of inspiration, which may or may not coincide with the school day.
Using mobile web apps is definitely becoming more and more practical on mobile phones. The wide arsenal of tools available for teachers and students is ever growing. In an education system emphasizing differentiated instruction, Twitter is one way students who don’t learn in traditional setting and using traditional teaching techniques can be reached.