questioning Twitter

My friend Alec shares some thoughts on Twitter. To be honest, for me, I’m having a difficult time accepting Twitter as a worthwhile tool. I signed up for a Twitter account but never posted anything of my own. I’m having a hard time seeing why I would do so when I could just use my blog to say what’s on my mind. As for the receiving end, the occasional twitter post of interest came through but I felt that most of what I was reading was publicized social chatting. I also felt (perhaps mistakenly) that if someone posts something valuable or insightful on Twitter, it’s bound to end up surfacing to blogs.

Some questions rolling around in my head…

I already use a blog and an RSS aggregator. Is adding Twitter as a tool to post and receive information going to enhance or burden my learning experience? Is it that I need to follow only those who use Twitter effectively to enhance my learning opportunities? If so, what is “effective” twittering and how does it differ from effective blogging? Is the energy required to add Twitter to my toolbox and follow Twitterers worth the payoff? Are really good ideas and resources found often enough on Twitter that never surface in blogs?



27 Responses to “questioning Twitter”

  1. kolson29 Says:

    Well, I found this post via a tweet from @courosa, so if nothing else it increased your readership! I’ve been offered a job, met valuable professional contacts, began classroom collaborations, learned about new tools, joined a bookgroup, and many other things all through twitter. I can’t say that some of the information might not have been repeated on blogs, but why’s that really a bad thing? I can’t possibly read everything in my Google Reader everyday, so most days I just read the posts that people tweet about. How about twitter as post-inspiration? Lord knows we all need that sometimes! The value of twitter comes in the conversations, not just in telling what you’re eating for supper…………..

  2. ehelfant Says:

    twittering is sometimes like cliffnotes for the blogosphere.. you get the gems passed thru…and can decide when to go read the whole thing..

    twitter is a great arbitrator…every one gets 140 characters…you have to move conversation along..

    twitter is also responsive back faster.. ask a question – direct and to the point in 140 or less..and a collective wisdom gives you an answer..

    i love twitter..

  3. Evan Thornton Says:

    Hi Peter,

    Twitter is far more immediate; at tis best it’s like a cocktail party full of people making useful comments and observations… except they are all written down for you to check out further so you won’t forget after you’ve had a few drinks.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a link or thought on twitter, thought “that looks interesting” checked it out and been very glad I did. Blogs and RSS readers are all fine… but still too deliberate- you miss the cool stuff people do as they go along, which is what twitter is for.

    It’s really rewarding to find out about a new tool, quickly ask if anyone else has used it – and get feedback as you start to use it, all back and forth in 5 or 10 minutes

    If you glom on to the right network – contributing your bits as you go, not just lurking – it really is a useful community.

  4. David Truss Says:

    A Tweet from @PaulWalsh “Twitter is a village within the context of the Social Media ‘World’. It’s a socially connected bunch of communities to me.”

    These communities have sent me around the world, visiting presentations (live), sending me to links that inspire me to blog, and all the while entertaining me with wistful side trips that make learning fun.

    I use the plural sense for communities since often I follow a response to an @someone to discover a wonderful lesson outside of my immediate community of Twitter-ers (how do you say that?).

    I didn’t get it? I thought it was a waste of time! Why would I care what you are doing? Why would you care what I was doing? Well the fact is that educators are fascinating people and when you connect to a very linked community of motivated learners you are inspired to learn and share your learning.

  5. Damian Bariexca Says:

    Don’t let the funny name fool you. What I’ve been telling non-Twitterers is that it’s as inane or as valuable as you make it. Since you know Alec, I bet if you were to log in and start following some of the folks on his list, and then some more folks on THEIR lists, and then… etc., you’d have yourself a tight little network of geographically and ideologically diverse, yet progressive thinking educators in a very short period of time. The hundred-plus folks on my “follow” list have served as advice-givers, proofreaders, critics, and general thought-provokers, as well as provided some fun banter along the way.

    Do I spend all day on Twitter? No, I have a job and a life. Do I look forward to seeing what folks have written or linked to throughout the day? Absolutely. I might not agree with everyone in my network, but I value their opinions and contributions. They are an important part of my daily professional (and sometimes personal) development.

  6. Mr. Chase Says:

    I’m more tied up in pownce (, but I started on twitter. The easiest way I’ve been able to think of to describe the usefulness of either is that they are like building your ideal faculty lounge. You can connect to and seek guidance, thoughts, critiques from the people you want to be connected to.

    Vivki Davis recently posted this:

    Strong points, important conversation.

  7. cchausis Says:

    Yup, if not for the post from @courosa, I never would have found my way here. Twitter offers immediate connections to content, answers to questions, solutions to problems, teachable moments, access to live discussions, conversation, and more. And, yes, perhaps some info will later appear in blogs. Someone had compared Twitter to a teacher’s lounge, hosting casual conversations and sharing, whether about the weather, movies, books, food, or just great “discoveries!” I “heart” my Twitter network!

  8. brachsmith Says:

    I think the effective part of Twitter is the immediate feedback when you have a question or comment that you need to “get out there”. You know it will be seen by your followers and may get you the precise answer within seconds. I have been able to pick up many valuable resources as well as collaborate with teachers who have similar interests. Living in a rural area with a limited number of tech-savvy teachers can become somewhat stifling when you need a soundboard or catalyst for a technology related project/lesson. I know I can count on Twitter when I need it!

  9. Suzanne Says:

    I find Twitter to be more of an interactive conversation than blogging. When I blog and get comments, it is generally just a conversation amongst a few people. On the other hand, on Twitter, the conversation group seems to be in the hundreds. I also find Twitter to be in real time and blogging takes a day or so. My most valuable links come from my Twitter community.

    I think it is really important for you to follow the right people before you will find Twitter most useful. I found some new twits to follow by visiting coolcatteacher’s blog when she posted who everyone is and what they do.

    Good luck in your journey and take note that I found your blog through Twitter.

  10. Mike Arsenault Says:

    Your comments about Twitter are really interesting to read. I also had “issues” with the relevance of Twitter. I tried it out and gave up on it in a few days. I came back to it over the past summer after attending the NECC conference in Atlanta, GA. USA. Since then I am addicted to it.

    Yes, you can get much of the same information in blogs. But Twitter is much quicker. The power of Twitter is in your network. You need to find others that share similar interests to you (that’s what got me hooked). I now have a network that grows all the time of people I find that I can help and who can help me. The responsiveness of the network is AMAZING!

  11. The EdTech Bach » Sensible Stalking Says:

    […] Rock questions Twitter’s worth as a tool and Alec Couros invited us to chip in. So here’s my […]

  12. Richard Schwier Says:

    I’ve wondered about the value of Twitter too, but I’m becoming a believer. I’ve picked up several things of value, not the least of which has been keeping in closer touch with the flow of thought among several close friends. I really do like the community feel of it.

    I may not stay with it forever, but I find the staccato items very compelling, almost like watching a stock market ticker roll by. If I want to buy stocks, I look for something more substantial than a ticker; same thing with using Twitter in conjunction with blogs. I like them both for the different things they offer.

  13. jepcke Says:

    I have found Twitter to be invaluable as a networking tool, support group, instant info source, and a great way to keep ‘in the know’ about what it happening in edtech (webinars, sites, blogs, podcasts, conferences, etc). One article I read, and have seen referenced many times, said an effective number for a PLN (personal learning network) is around 150. I probably didn’t feel an impact from twitter until I was following about 60+ people. There are those people who post ‘eating an egg’ or something like that, but the benefit is there. Install a twitter client like Snitter, or TwitterFox, or Twhirl and leave it open all day while you are working You’ll be amazed at what you learn, who you help, and the wonderful conversation in 140 character segments that are worth your while.

  14. Jackie Says:

    Well Twitter led me to your question, so it must have some value. Through Twitter I have made connections that go beyond reading and commenting on blogs. I’ve found new tools, jumped into presentations and conversations on UStream that I would have missed had I only heard about it after a blog post, and had some fun too.

  15. Tom Hoffman Says:

    I’m not really into Twitter, but one take away from EduCon for me is that it seems to suit a lot of teachers, at least for their own social interactions. It isn’t very different from blogging or chat, but the specific configuration is just easy and quick enough to make a difference. Overall though, I have enough blogs to read. Also, it isn’t clear how long this lasts before people get sick of it and move on.

  16. catspyjamasnz Says:

    @TomHoffman on one of the EdTechTalk shows over the holidays, all of the edubloggers were actually remarking that this is one of the tools they have stuck with the longest. So we seem to have passed some usage/usefulness milestone…

  17. bvandyck Says:

    For me, the experience that Alec describes in his blog entry says it all. This twitter experience involves my students, my classroom, and my teaching. Because of a small piece of information posted by Alec, I in turn shared it with my students, and one student created content that became featured on the site. Alec took notice of this student’s work and featured it on his blog. Can you imagine the powerful impact this will have on this one student, let alone my entire classroom. No single blog has had this kind of impact on my classroom. The manner in which information is shared transcends the blogosphere. The information shared is instant in access, shared on a more personal level, and often in response to a request. I do not find myself feeling connected with blog authors, on Twitter however, the unique conversation aspect creates a level of connectivity that is lacking in blogs. Twitter is not for everyone, but for me, I’m a fan.

  18. Randy Rodgers Says:


    I completely understand your point-of-view. I am only recently developing a Twitter addiction. Personally, its biggest benefit is that it is a big time-saver over reading blog postings and RSS feeds, of which there are too many to deal with most days. I posted a short post a couple of days ago on my blog about it– It’s become an addiction. Pownce is next!

  19. roadrunner Says:

    I’ll admit I’m new to both spaces, but I find they are both different and both hugely valuable to me. A blog is valuable in its ability to explore issues, positions, and research, to synthesize, analyze, and construct meaning.
    But Twitter is something very different. Twitter is about connecting in real time, and to people with whom you have common interests but might not otherwise meet.
    Today through Educon 2.0 chat I met a few people with common research interests. We are now following on Twitter, and as events unfold we can stay in touch.
    I only got to Educon through Twitter, as I received a tweet from coolcatteacher that it was happening.
    Just one example today of the power of the network on Twitter.
    Blogging is important for asynchronous connections, but Twitter has its own place in the here and now.

    Visit our EC&I 831 class at

  20. Jen Says:

    Unless you get a jump start from someone, it takes a few months to build a network and get anything useful from Twitter. You need to get some people with a lot of followers to send you some replies. Their followers will notice you and add you. So what’s your Twitter ID?

  21. kwhobbes Says:

    Peter, Twitter will become one of your prime sources of information. As you begin to use it more and gather contacts, you will see that these people are doing much the same as you. They are trying many of the same things and have many of the same questions. The connections they will suggest will have you coming back for more and the relationships that you make will surprise you as they become people you look forward to tweeting with and knowing better. I wasn’t sure that it was going to be something worth following but I now use it more than my RSS reader.

  22. Nate Lowell Says:

    “Is adding Twitter as a tool to post and receive information going to enhance or burden my learning experience?”

    Yes. You can’t really have one without the other, can you?

    “Is it that I need to follow only those who use Twitter effectively to enhance my learning opportunities? If so, what is “effective” twittering and how does it differ from effective blogging?”

    Effective is not a term I’d apply to twitter.

    Addictive. Humorous. Profound. Silly. Responsive. Flexible. Aggravating. Provocative. Banal.

    Not “effective”

    “Is the energy required to add Twitter to my toolbox and follow Twitterers worth the payoff?”

    That depends on you. Is there any value in a dinner party with a group of the smartest people you ever met talking about whatever they happen to be thinking about at the time? Sometimes silly. Sometimes profound. Sometimes asking for help. Sometimes just being human.

    Was getting these answers all in a single day worth anything?

    “Are really good ideas and resources found often enough on Twitter that never surface in blogs?”

    Yes. But if you’re just in it for the resources. Don’t.

    I didn’t get twitter when I started. I had to follow enough of them to make it worth installing the client and remembering to log in. I needed to follow people who were doing things I cared so much about that I was grateful (not just willing — grateful) to be able to just listen to what they were saying and doing. Whatever it was. Whenever I could.

    Your mileage may vary.

  23. Open Thinking & Digital Pedagogy » Questioning Twitter Says:

    […] Peter Rock has asked some fair questions about Twitter on his blog. I already use a blog and an RSS aggregator. Is adding Twitter as a tool to post and receive information going to enhance or burden my learning experience? Is it that I need to follow only those who use Twitter effectively to enhance my learning opportunities? If so, what is “effective” twittering and how does it differ from effective blogging? Is the energy required to add Twitter to my toolbox and follow Twitterers worth the payoff? Are really good ideas and resources found often enough on Twitter that never surface in blogs? […]

  24. Vance Says:

    I just parachuted in from a Twitter lead. This posting says that among the benefits of Twittering is that it can drive traffic to your blog. Do you believe that? How many comments are there to this posting so far? I’m trying to understand Twitter myself. There are some clues here: Woops, that may have been more than 140 characters. Better stop now!

  25. Vicki Davis Says:

    Twitter is as useful as you make it. I use twitter quite a bit and find it useful, however, I come no where near the addiction that some claim to have. It is a FAST way to find people who you can collaborate with synchronously for whatever purpose is at hand.

    You can also set up twitterfeed to post the titles of your blog posts into your twitter automatically (and using a facebook app, it will change your status in facebook too.) I automate what I can but find that twitter is a useful source of information.

    It is all about who you FRIEND, however. Who you follow determines the sort of information you get.

  26. gnuosphere Says:

    Thanks to all who’ve offered their thoughts. I’m still questioning the value of Twitter but will reserve judgment until I’ve given it an honest go by building up a network. You can now find me under the handle “petrock”.

  27. Twitter in Education | EDC Blog - News and Commentary Says:

    […] Questioning Twitter (Peter at GNUosphere). “I already use a blog and an RSS aggregator. Is adding Twitter as a tool to post and receive information going to enhance or burden my learning experience?” See great comments. […]

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