Social networks and web technologies have for some time been used in education. Like business and media, web 2.0 has had a profound influence on the future of what we now call – education 2.0. Both teachers and especially students have been using blogs as well as social networks to get the job done, have fun and learn something in the process.
The end goal is to make education more efficient, but also a little bit less of a task. That’s why microblogging might be the answer to a lot of educator’s needs, and here are a few reasons why:
Share Media and Materials
While wikis are great to share large pieces of information, and Flickr is awesome for sharing whole galleries – most of the time you’re working with small snippets of information. Maybe it’s an article you found somewhere on the web, a link, a photo of something interesting. Organizing galleries or file repositories also takes time. Uploading a file or single photo on the other hand – takes just a few minutes. It took education expert Steve Dembo, the Online Community Manager for the Discovery Educator Network, only 10 minutes to setup his own microblogging network with Shout’Em.
Learning Curve? Just Get It
While students might love Facebook or Myspace, for a lot of teachers classic social network sometimes prove to be a little over their heads. Not to say they won’t learn how to use them, but the learning curve is not really a benefit. A text field and friend list on the other hand, found in most microblogging software, is simple and easy to grasp. Also, with such applications as Twhirl and about hundreds of others, users can access the microblogging network any way he or she wants.
Create a Community and Get Feedback
After the user has started using the community he needs to focus on the forums… Groups… Statuses… Galleries… Wait, where did the learning go? While letting people express themselves in lots of ways is great, it doesn’t mean you need to have special areas to do so. Discussions, feedback and ideas can all be expressed in 140 characters (although Shout’Em does let you specify our character limit ;)). Better yet, 140 charaters makes people get to the point.
Share or Keep Private – It’s Your Choice
Learning is about sharing information, and you can have your network public to anyone seeking the information you offer. This can bring in people who would have never have crossed your path. On the other hand, keeping your user’s information private takes just a flick of the switch. Having your own microblogging network and not just a private Twitter account is an obvious benefit.
Do More with Less
While Moodle and Blackboard are nice pieces of software they are basically the Microsoft Office of the education space. Big, bulky and you need to get the IT department every time you want to change one little thing about them. Most teachers use these systems for their basic, yet most powerful features, such as messaging and file sharing.
Since microblogging networks offer exactly that and nothing more, teachers themselves can setup the networks as they please. No more need to get the IT department’s approval or “advice”. The frugality of having less features also lets you focus on the essentials. In the end it’s about learning and not just passing notes of files.
The basic premise of education is passing knowledge to the next generation. So lets finally stop looking for new bells and whistles and focus on getting students and teachers engaged – with microblogging! You should try out Shout’Em and see if it works for you!