It began with Orkut. Then Facebook. Followed in March 2006 by Twitter. Created by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has become one of the ten most visited websites on the Internet since its launch. With even unregistered users getting to access tweets, it has rightly
been described as 'the SMS of the Internet'. A blown out manifestation of its potential was evident with the Twitter Revolutions which sparked the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
Twitter has also been adopted as a communication and learning tool in educational settings like colleges and universities. It has been used as a back channel to promote student interactions. Research has found that using Twitter in college courses helps students communicate with each other and faculty, promotes informal learning, allows shy students a forum for increased participation, increases student engagement, and improves overall course grades.
Though its immense power and large scale implications are undeniable, the pitfalls are considerable due to the daily surge of information, the ever-changing timeline of tweets and the potential to miss entire conversations simply by failing to log in at the right moment. Educators can extract the best out of Twitter, by acquainting themselves with the following Apps and tools it has to offer.
1) Through tools like Tweetizen you can create groups, so that like-minded tweeters can join forces to discuss a particular topic or area. A great way to collaborate across time zones allowing others to follow what’s been discussed while they were offline.
2) Another brilliant resource is TweetCube, through which you can upload unlimited images, archives, documents, videos and audio files and share them with other educators. Discussions just became easier!
3) For the ones who find TweetCube complicated and time-consuming, there is a fantastic tool lScreenr, which allows you to enjoy real-time collaboration as it transmits instant screencasts with audio quickly and easily. Just click record, capture your screen and voice and share the link!
4) On Twitter things move so quickly that you're bound to lose track of the thread if you don't log in at the correct time. To avoid this, use TweetDeck to help you keep up with the flow. Since it streamlines and customizes what you see, it is a vital resource to help teachers collaborate, keep up and avoid missing information.
5) It is not possible to login to a computer every time you want to tweet. An app like Dial2Do is handy in such situations as it allows you to tweet whilst on the go by converting voice commands into text and tweets. This great innovation turns tweeting into a conversation, enabling you to keep up with the dialogue even whilst driving or walking.
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