Friday, July 1, 2011

Twitter Keeps it Short and Sweet

I admit, I was skeptical of Twitter when I first had to use it for a class on the use of social media in education about two years ago. A microblogging site, with a 140 character limit, didn't seem to be a great way to connect with other people or to express any ideas. Yet, after using the site for a class, I found that Twitter could be a great way to connect with people, learn about things, and even have conversations with other people.

I still use the same Twitter account I started back then, which can be found here. I follow a number of different types of accounts, from celebrities to fellow librarians and students. With this account, the feed of which can be found on the right side of this blog, I post about education, library stuff, conferences I am attending, and any number of other topics.

Indeed, I posted fairly frequently earlier this summer when I attended the FLA conference in Orlando and the ALA conference in New Orleans as the 140 character limit proved to be a great way to ensure short messages. By posting to Twitter, I could figure out who was attending the same panels and sessions along with me, what sessions might be worth checking out, and could also connect with other attendees by having conversations about what we were seeing.

Beyond these uses, Twitter can also be used to teach information literacy better by helping those in the field connect to one another and by helping us connect to library customers. On Twitter, I can follow, talk to and connect with people like Jeff Jarvis, R David Lankes, and organizations like ALA International. By connecting with these people, I can keep up to date on scholarship in the field.

Twitter can also be used to teach information literacy more directly by being used to teach students and library customers about vetting information, connecting with others, and creating content:

  • Vetting: Much like other blogs might present information that is false, by using Twitter, students can learn how to check information for accuracy. 
  • Connecting: Twitter is a great way to show students how to connect with one of the greatest information resource out there, other people. 
  • Creating: Twitter encourages users to create and share content by forcing users to create short messages. 
Twitter messages are short by design but they allow people to connect and keep up with others in a way that traditional blogging does not. The short messages allow people to read content published by numerous people quickly, as opposed to the time that needs to be spent reading long-form blogs. For time-strapped professionals, this can be a great way to keep up with others in the field. 

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