Supplementing your Personal Learning Network with Twitter
Twitter? A learning tool? Can you really learn 140 characters at a time?
Used correctly Twitter can be a great addition to your personal learning network. First, you've got a account setup on Twitter right? You know the basics of Twitter right? If not, Google "Twitter Tutorial" or "How to use Twitter". This video on How to use Twitter by Howcast isn't bad.
Got it? Great.
Find and Follow Relevant Users
So how do you go about it? Let's say you'd like to learn a bit more about our favorite topic--E-Learning. The core method for learning about a topic with Twitter is to follow users who discuss that topic. To learn about E-Learning, start to follow users who tweet useful information about E-learning.
How do we find these users? OK I'll give you an easy one. Follow us @learningcouncil (click on the link and then click the Follow button)
Find and Follow Relevant Lists
Great, now you are following one account who tweets about E-learning. How do we find more? Time to learn about Twitter lists. Lists allow Twitter users to organize the people they follow into groups. By segmenting your following list into groups, you can then filter tweets from your main stream and just view the tweets originating from a selected list. More importantly, for our purpose, you can also subscribe to other people’s lists.
Want to see what lists we've created for you on @learningcouncil? Click on the Lists menu item, and you should see the Best of E-Learning List (or you can click on this link) If you want tweets from all the people that belong to this list to appear in your Twitter stream just click on the Follow this List button. The cool part of this is as we curate this list (by adding people that are providing great resources or removing people who are generating too much noise) your Twitter stream will automatically adjust. Want to be more selective or just curious about who we have on our list? Click on the Following Tab. Another list worth following is @microassist's ASTD list.
Use Twitter's Search Function
More? You want to find more great users to follow. Well two suggestions. In the black bar on the top of your Twitter page there's a Who to Follow button. Click on it and Twitter will give you suggestions on who to follow. If you spend a bit of time finding great people to follow your Twitter stream should have tweets that are related to our favorite topic E-learning. If you find a user who's not contributing to your learning unfollow them.
Another way of finding great resources is to search the Twitter stream for topics of interest. For example, type in "Elearning" Voila! You get tweets related to Elearning.
The Learning Solutions 2011 conference is in progress right now (yep as I type this article). Want to keep up with tweets from the conference? Search for #LS2011. #LS2011 is the hashtag for the conference. Wait! What's a hashtag? The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages. Go to Twitter's page on Hashtags to learn more.
A little secret about Twitter, if you follow users a certain percentage of them will follow you back. If you start posting tweets on a particular topic, users interested in that topic will start following you. Over time you will build up a network of users who are interested in a topic. If you see someone ask a question, hit the Reply button on your Twitter client and answer it (Twitter has a blog post on replying, if you'd like to learn more). Need a question answered? Ask. Don't be discouraged if you don't get a reply initially (if it's about E-learning try asking us by including @learningcouncil in your Tweet--we'll try to answer or get our followers to answer).
Whew! A long post. Other thoughts on how to use Twitter as part of your personal learning network? Comment or Tweet.