Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Online Learning Communities for Teachers - Does Twitter count?

As I mentioned in my previous post I have been working on a draft of my literature review, much of which focuses on online professional development.  Online learning communities are a big part of what I have been reading about, and, as I have been involved in many online communities myself through online courses and chat forums, it got me thinking about what exactly constitutes and online learning community.  Specifically, can Twitter be considered an online learning community?  Why Twitter you ask?  Probably because I have recently delved into Twitter myself (@vpigreenie) and am slowly learning how to navigate this social media tool.

Definition from Wikipedia:

An online learning community is a public or private destination on the Internet that addresses the learning needs of its members by facilitating peer-to-peer learning. ......... In an online learning community, people share knowledge via textual discussion (synchronous or asynchronous), audio, video, or other Internet-supported mediums. 

Twitter definitely is an online community where people are sharing knowledge - via article links, video links, blog links, or just personal feedback and comments. But does it facilitate peer-to-peer learning? I guess the answer is it depends on who you follow and who follows you and what your goals are.  I can only speak from my own personal experience, and in my own Twitter environment, I feel I am learning from others and am hopefully contributing to the learning of my followers. I try to make my own tweets be informative to my followers - sharing interesting articles, thoughts, problems, ideas, etc. related to math, teaching, education policy. And, I know I am learning from those I follow because I end up reading articles and blogs that I otherwise would not be aware of and find out information and facts that I may not have been aware of.  I feel more well informed about the state of education, as those are the folks I choose to follow on Twitter.  And, I do feel that I can express my opinions to these other folks and 'share' freely.

My consensus is yes, Twitter counts as an online learning community forum, though a specific focus makes it more so.  Something to consider if there are teachers out there trying to incorporate Twitter as a learning tool.

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