Twitter as a model of learning

For those who don’t know about Twitter, lots of stuff has been written about the Web 2.0 app that asks the question “What are you doing?” The cool thing is that you get a max. of 140 characters for each response or “tweet.” Most school networks block access to the site because it is considered a “social networking” site and apparently those sites are put on the same tier as pornography and hate sites: they are blacklisted via school/corporation/or state filters. But, like most students, everyone does their thing on the web when they get home and twittering for me has been very freeing and lately, I’ve been thinking about how it reflects how we think…

Remember making an outline in your high school English class before writing your paper? I’m not down with that practice; many people I know will jot an outline before writing an essay or giving a speech. But to think that an outline is a great prewriting strategy is probably not true for all people. Many people don’t think in outlines; many people, from my experience, think in bursts. The notion that thinking about a topic or idea should be represented only by an outline, a bulleted list, a complete sentence/paragraph doesn’t seem that accurate. Unfortunately, this thought came to me during a slightly uninteresting talk being given recently (and isn’t that when the brain seems to come up with really cool stuff: when we’re bored?)

I’m siting in a presentation where the person talking was not prepared and was not keeping to the topic at hand and I couldn’t take it anymore…so I pulled out my compostion book (they were on sale at Target for 33 cents and I grabbed a few). I’ve been using my compositon book as my main writing place (or inbox, for you GTD fans). I bring it with me everywhere just in case I have to simply entertain my mind– before I have to hurt someone. Or, less violently, to jot down notes to myself, write, make lists, take notes, write, script lesson plans…

So I’m complaining, you see, in my composition book about the setting and the topic and the speaker and then, perhaps, I try to be really creative, and I try to write something profound (and in this case, I was making comment about how I see an audience member’s “tensing jaw–sometimes relaxing– all the time keeping the smile”…which I found amusing…the words that is). On the next page, I make a connection with the content of my masters exit project (about Aliteracy: the idea that people have the ability to read, but don’t read) and then, my thoughts go to some planning for next trimester for a project that I want to try with a senior writing class. I jump back to something that the speaker who has said something that made me write “What the hell does that really mean?” I give a couple more questions and then end with a completely other thought.

And during this time (in what some people might call journaling or free-form notes or responses) I write this:

Oh, to be able to Twitter right now–it is interesting that Twitter might be closer to reflecting/learning–short burts–than other ways or metaphors.

Some don’t like Twitter because it’s too many conversations going on at the same time. But, perhaps, that’s how learning and talking and living happen: Observation and observation and some reflection and then a short burst of insight based on those observations and reflections. Maybe we try and hold too dearly to the ladder of learning that we call “Bloom’s Taxonomy.” Maybe it’s not that linear and steppy; maybe, it’s a little more like an ellipsis

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4 Comments on “Twitter as a model of learning”

  1. Wolfman-K Says:

    I feel like I should have some sort of insightful comment to put here.

    But I’m not trained in education, at all, in fact I dare say I wasn’t even trained by education. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you layed out.

    But I found it interesting, insightful, and something I wish more educators were thinking about.

    Challenging the traditional model, in anything is a necessary exercise, even if it is just in your head.

    An excellent read Chris, got me thinking.

  2. vergil66 Says:

    Thanks, Wolfman-K.
    As far as having an “insightful comment,” I don’t think that’s entirely necessary…that came a bit later on your comment that educators need to continue to be thinking. Having said that, I wish they had more time to think about things that matter.

  3. Chris Says:

    Hey Vergil,
    Interesting theory. I don’t think I’d consider Twitter the electronic equivalent of a composition book. Your description of using your notebook almost inspires me to carry one around too. Ironically (I do hope this is the correct time to use that word), “On Keeping a Notebook” left me feeling less inclined to keep a notebook than your blog.

    And for whatever reason, I feel like the “bursts” you refer to are symptoms of ADD/ADHD. I might just be neurotic.

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